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39 Publications

Championing sustainable construction using timber in the Baltic Sea Region

Timber construction can radically cut carbon emissions. The construction sector is accountable for c. 40% of global emissions, a third of which comes from the production of building materials. Replacing concrete and steel with timber offers a huge opportunity to reach the carbon neutrality goals – so what is stopping us? In this policy brief, we uncover bottlenecks in timber construction in relation to technology, public sector and institutional innovation, cultural shifts, and systemic phenomena.  Nordic and Baltic countries have a unique advantage in leading the way, given the vast forest resources available, a long legacy of the forestry industry and wood building, the in-built industrial capacity, and the well-functioning and interlinked supply chains across the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). Yet, decisive policy measures are needed to overcome technical, regulatory, and cultural obstacles. Challenging the status quo and creating a market shift demands holistic and collaborative approaches that can enable systemic change, as well as targeted measures to navigate through country-specific obstacles.  This policy brief is based on the results of two projects: 1) Systems perspectives on Green Innovation (GRINGO) a research study conducted within the Nordic Thematic Group for Green, Innovative and Resilient Regions 2021-2024 and funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers; and 2) BSRWood project funded by the Swedish Institute to enhance collaboration and knowledge transfer across the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). In addition to desk study, interviews, workshops, and study tours with many experts from different organisations and countries served to collect multiple perspectives for how to address the bottlenecks in timber construction.

The Role of 5G in the Transition to a Digital and Green Economy in the Nordic and Baltic Countries: Analytic Report 

The report provides an overview of the status of 5G roll-out and its industrial uptake in the Nordic-Baltic region. The aim is not only to present the roll-out status across the region but also to put these insights into a broader political and technological context. The report describes some of the most relevant testbeds and policy initiatives, provides examples of successful and promising use cases, and highlights existing strengths and ongoing challenges in the Nordic-Baltic region. Juxtaposing these against established goals emphasises areas for possible future cooperation and knowledge exchange between the Nordic and Baltic actors to encourage sustainable innovation and competitiveness across the region.  The report reveals notable variations in the progress of 5G coverage among the Nordic-Baltic countries. Denmark and Finland have made significant strides and surpassed the European Union average regarding 5G coverage, while other countries still face challenges in catching up.   Despite the presence of numerous 5G activities, such as testbeds and innovation hubs, a considerable number of initiatives remain in the testing and prototyping stage. The report indicates that the full potential of 5G for innovation and competitiveness in the Nordic-Baltic region has yet to be fully realised.   With the accelerated digitalisation brought by 5G, the importance of cyber security considerations increases. As 5G networks increase electricity demand, it is essential to consider the environmental footprint and societal effects of their rollout. While 5G has immense potential, it necessitates significant adjustments in various areas, including network infrastructure, systems, applications, data ethics, privacy, and workforce implications. Challenges related to social inclusion further underscore the importance of cooperation and synergy across the region.  The report highlights the need for increased knowledge exchange, the formulation of common roadmaps, and the establishment of guidelines to promote harmonised 5G deployment. Collaborative efforts among stakeholders are crucial for maximising the benefits…

Discussion paper on Digitalisation of Food Systems

The newly published Discussion paper on Digitalisation of Food Systems delves into one of the BioBaltic project focus areas, digitalisation in food systems. Part I provides a concept overview and relevance in Nordic and Baltic countries. Part II delves into the Vidzeme Region case-study in Latvia. We welcome comments and suggestions with any new perspectives! Digitalisation is the process of large-scale adoption of digital technologies and is one contemporary trend affecting all economic sectors and society at large. In food systems, digital technologies have been implemented for decades, but the so-called digital transformation and requirements for more sustainable practices in food value chains have added pressure on the need for a speedy and large-scale implementation of existing and new innovations. The discussion paper provides a conceptual framework of digitalisation in food systems, accompanied by a closer examination of the key issues at hand in Vidzeme region, a case study area in Latvia. The paper aims to gain a better understanding of the current state of and development opportunities of digitalisation, and the role of different forms of collaboration in this context. Furthermore, this paper is meant to spark discussion amongst partners, stakeholders, and a general audience about the technological, institutional and governance aspects that need to be addressed to be able to seize the opportunities of improving food systems via the application of digital tools.

The Nordic Thematic Group for Innovative and Resilient Regions 2017–2020 – final report

This report summarises the work and results of the Nordic thematic group for innovative and resilient regions (TG2) in 2017–2020. The Nordic thematic group for innovative and resilient regions 2017–2020 (TG2) was established by the Nordic Council of Ministers and is a part of the Nordic Co-operation Programme for Regional Development and Planning 2017–2020. Three Nordic thematic groups were established for the four-year period: Innovative and resilient regions, Sustainable rural development, and Sustainable cities and urban development. The thematic groups have been organised under the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Committee of Civil Servants for Regional Affairs, and Nordregio has acted as the secretariat for the thematic groups. The thematic group has not only produced high-quality research on innovative and resilient regions in the Nordic countries but also contributed to public policy with the latest knowledge on the creation and development of innovative and resilient regions across the Nordic countries, with focus on smart specialisation, digitalisation, regional resilience, and skills policies. TG2 has also contributed to research on innovative and resilient regions in the Nordic cross-border context.

Simone Grind: Promoting a self-sustaining lifestyle through community support agriculture

Simone works at Under Tallarna, a small-scale farm initiated by a bunch of young enthusiasts passionate about self-sustaining lifestyle and sustainable living. The farm is managed under the community support agriculture (CSA) model, where the clients become members of the farm. This eliminates the need for intermediaries securing a more fair and stable income for the farmers and a reliable product to the clients. Farming farmers is, however, Simone’s biggest ambition. She organises events for anyone to try out what it is to be a farmer and to learn about sustainable living. This storymap is a part of the BeUBio storymap series – about young people whose business ideas, jobs and other activities lead the way towards a different and more sustainable economic path. With a variety of different examples, young people from across the Baltic Sea Region, inspire new ways of making business while having a positive impact to the environment and society. The overall aim is to build a community of like-minded people, by sharing our stories and inspiring each other. This initiative comes from the BeUBio project, a collaboration between different partners across the Baltic Sea Region pushing for youth participation in the transition to a bio-based economy, and create synergies with other actors and initiatives addressing the SDGs. 

A guide to collaborative mobility solutions in rural areas

Are you living in a rural area? Do you experience unfavourable mobility and accessibility conditions?Do you want to do something about the situation? If the answer is ‘yes’, then this manual is for you. It provides guidance on how grassroots actors and the public sector can work together to tackle mobility challenges in their rural areas. Working together in this way allows you to: gain a deeper understanding of residents’ needs; maximise and leverage the resources available to grassroots and public sector actors; and develop more creative, efficient and cost-effective mobility solutions that are well-used and sustainable in the long-term. Whether you are trying to initiate, coordinate or implement a collaborative mobility solution, this guide will help show you ways to do it. With decreasing and ageing populations in many rural parts of the Baltic Sea Region, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain public transport and other services that depend on mobility, such as care at home and home deliveries. This reduced accessibility of services impacts the quality of life of people living outside urban centres. The prospects for such regions seem grim at first sight. Adverse, self-reinforcing and interdependent processes (e.g. ageing populations, outward migration, unfavourable economic conditions, strained municipal budgets) are pulling many remote regions all over Europe into a self-perpetuating “circle of decline” that has a negative impact on the quality of life in rural areas. Looking more closely, however, there is ample hidden potential just waiting to be developed (in the form of existing social networks, resources and infrastructure), all within reach of local community actors and the public sector. The MAMBA project aims to meet this challenge by promoting sustainable “people-to-service” and “service-to-people” mobility solutions in rural areas. In practice, the MAMBA partners have worked together to improve the integration of existing mobility structures…

Mobility for all in rural areas – Inspiring solutions from MAMBA

This document presents the innovative mobility solutions developed and implemented within the MAMBA project. Each of them is different because they all take advantage of the opportunities and possibilities of the unique local context in the region. As a result, each measure has its own (hi)story, which is featured in this document. These experiences are presented in different styles, mirroring the different people who worked on the ground to promote better rural mobility and accessibility. In that sense, this document intentionally takes the reader on a journey to visit the various MAMBA solutions, where local guides share their experience, talk about the variety of challenges faced, introduce other members of their alliance and present the solutions they discovered. MAMBA stands for “Maximising Mobility and Accessibility of Services in Regions Affected by Demographic Change.” It is a European Interreg project that aims to improve the quality of life in rural areas in the Baltic Sea region through innovative mobility and accessibility solutions. At first glance, the prospects for such regions seem grim. Specific processes (e.g. ageing populations, out-migration, economic problems, strained public budgets, etc.) are pulling many remote regions all over Europe into a “circle of decline”; a self-perpetuating cycle (or circle) that has a negative impact on the quality of life in rural areas. Looking more closely, however, there is ample hidden potential just waiting to be developed in moving towards solutions. This includes strong social networks, creativity, commitment, resources, a collective sense of charity, and the various infrastructures possessed by local community members and/or the public sector. MAMBA showcases how small interventions can make a real, effective change and counteract this (vicious) circle.

BONUS BASMATI HANDBOOK: Process, Methods and Tools for Stakeholder Involvement in Maritime Spatial Planning

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), as with any other type of planning, is not just about the plans and their content, but the process of making those plans. Incorporating expert knowledge and the perspectives of different sea users and interest groups through stakeholder involvement (SI) processes is a central element in the design and implementation of marine spatial plans (MSPs). This handbook explores some of the key issues relating to SI in MSP, including: How to think about involving stakeholders? How to understand their needs? Who to involve? When is the appropriate time to involve them? What methods and tools are needed? What are the drawbacks? And how can a process leader carry out an effective, transparent and fair process? This handbook provides practitioners with some practical answers to these questions by offering a framework for systematically thinking about SI in the MSP process. The ideas and approaches to SI outlined are based on first-hand experiences from planners in the Baltic Sea Region and cover the whole of the MSP policy cycle. Executive summaries The executive summaries outlining the conceptual framework, general principles, methodologies and future directions of the stakeholder engagement in MSP are available in six languages: Danish English Finnish German Latvian Swedish BONUS BASMATI project has received funding from BONUS (Art 185), funded jointly by the EU and Innovation Fund Denmark, Swedish Research Council Formas, Academy of Finland, Latvian Ministry of Education and Science, and Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH (Germany).

Rural perspectives on digital innovation: Experiences from small enterprises in the Nordic countries and Latvia

The Nordic countries are at the forefront of digitalisation in Europe. The Baltic States show a more mixed performance, but still score around or above average on the European  commission’s annual measure of digital progress, the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). Despite this positive development overall, disparities remain with respect to digital development within countries; with rural and sparsely populated areas often lagging behind on the availability of digital infrastructure and the adoption of digital technologies. As such, this project sought to provide a rural perspective on the second goal: Strengthening the competitiveness of our enterprises through digitalisation. Specifically, it aimed to demonstrate how smart, sustainable and inclusive approaches to digitalisation can be used as a tool to increase the competitiveness and attractiveness of rural areas by exploring the challenges and opportunities for small enterprises in rural and sparsely populated areas. The baseline study explored the nature of digital transformation in rural areas and reflected on opportunities and challenges for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in rural areas in each of the Nordic countries and in Latvia. The study was developed through desk-based research conducted by Nordregio and a report prepared by Vidzeme Planning Region which detailed the Latvian context. It provided an overall context for the digitalisation of SMEs in rural areas including sector-specific information on the bioeconomy, manufacturing and tourism sectors. The project was funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers for Digitalisation (MR-Digital), the Nordic Thematic Group for Innovative and Resilient Regions 2017- 2020 and the North Atlantic Cooperation (NORA) and included a baseline study, local workshops and a webinar series. Its primary focus was the Nordic countries and Latvia; however, data is also provided for Estonia and Lithuania where possible. You can learn about project results in digital divide, tourism, manufacturing and bioeconomy through these…