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Strengthening the resilience of EU border regions: Mapping risks & crisis

Natural and human-induced disasters are becoming increasingly extreme and complex, exacerbated by the impacts of climate change in our interlinked economies, and do not respect national borders. This project aims to contribute to strengthening capacities in border areas for disaster risk management. Its overall objective is to improve the tools at the disposal of the stakeholders for managing cross-border risks, both natural and man-made. Unprecedented drought, forest fires, floods, the COVID pandemic and geopolitical tensions are among the examples of adverse events that have caused the devastation of human life, property, environment and cultural heritage. The rapidly changing risk landscape implies that civil protection faces an increasingly diverse range of risks and impacts, and needs to work with an increasingly wider range of authorities, services and partners, across sectoral, geographical and jurisdictional boundaries. The project has the following specific objectives: The best examples of good practices will be selected for further analysis as case studies, so that they serve as an inspiration for other countries, regions and local authorities. With regards to geographical scope, the project will cover 43 internal land borders in the EU, 4 maritime borders and 6 borders in candidate countries. The study covers 12 main types of risks: five natural, two related to health and diseases and five man-made. Nordregio is in charge of the country-level analyses for Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, as well as producing maps relevant to cross-border territories.

BSRWood – Accelerating wood construction across the Baltic Sea Region

The BSRWood project is financed by the Swedish Institute to push the sustainable agenda in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) via wood construction. The BSRWood project boosts collaboration and knowledge transfer amongst a diverse group of partners and stakeholders across the BSR. Activities are organised to identify the key barriers and opportunities and explore possible steps ahead to enable the sector’s development. Replacing steel and cement with wood in construction is an effective way to cut emissions and capture carbon. It also has important advantages over other structural materials: low construction costs, low weight, easy processing, thermal insulation, etc. Hence, wood construction is gaining momentum worldwide as a means to achieve the ‘green transition’. A fast expansion of the sector brings many opportunities to the BSR i.e. exporting technology, generating value locally and quality jobs, and strengthening labour resilience. However, significant efforts are needed to mobilise actors, economic sectors, and society. Several challenges need attention to seize the opportunities of wood construction. Policy and regulatory innovations are needed for the industry to embrace modern technologies and scale up to increase the market share of wood buildings. Also, communication efforts are needed to change the mind-set of policy-makers, builders and citizens in relation to the fears of wood-materials. Increased cooperation between industries, technology providers, research and other players across the BSR will be mutually beneficial in developing the industry. Particularly, technology innovations, environmental practises, quality and safety standards, and expanding the market everywhere. The project organises a number of study tours, workshops and network building opportunities in Skellefteå (Sweden), Latvia and online, via which we strengthen partnerships, share knowledge, explore business opportunities, and exchange ideas. As a result, the project produces strong BSR networks, co-learning events, a list of future actions, and an agenda for future cooperation. Read the story and…

Mapping of labour force and skills supply in the border municipalities of Innlandet, Dalarna and Värmland

The green transition, digitalisation and other structural changes in the labour market are creating demand for new competences, while demographic factors like aging population and migration constantly change the basis for supply. This project will analyse skills supply and competence in the labour market of the Innlandet-Dalarna cross-border region, what development can be seen over the past ten years and what the current trends are based on demographic and labour force data. The focus will be on the border municipalities in the Swedish regions Dalarna and Värmland and in the Norwegian county Innlandet, which include Eidskog, Grue, Kongsvinger, Nord-Odal, Sør-Odal, Våler, Åsnes, Trysil and Engerdal on the Norwegian side, as well as Arvika, Eda, Sunne, Torsby, Malung-Sälen and Älvdalen on the Swedish side.

Nordic transport infrastructure planning – institutional barriers and opportunities for coordination (NORDINFRA)

Previous research points to institutional barriers hampering the planning of cross-border transport infrastructure in the Nordics. This project aims to increase knowledge of the institutional conditions for the development of a more coordinated transport planning in the Nordic region. The project will identify obstacles, point out opportunities and propose measures that facilitate coordination of transport infrastructure planning across national borders. This research project is a collaboration between Nordregio and Umeå University, financed by The Swedish Transportation Administration (Trafikverket). It consists of document studies and interviews with key stakeholders. The project includes a steering group from the Transport Administration and a academic reference group with researchers from Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark. To get in-depth knowledge, three case studies will be conducted, studying three different cross-border transport infrastructure planning objects; the Helsingborg-Helsingør fixed link (HH), the Stockholm-Oslo railway connection and the road and ferry connection stretching from Mo-i-Rana in Norway via Umeå in Sweden and over to Vasa in Finland.

Re-start competence mobility in the Nordic Region

This project aims to explore labour market mobility and the possibility of re-starting and enhancing it in the Nordic region. The core research question is in which regions and sectors we find the largest cross-border labour market mobility. The Nordic Council of Ministers’ vision for the Nordic Region is to become the world’s most sustainable and integrated region by 2030. The vision indicates substantial flows of people, goods and knowledge across the Nordic borders. But during the past years, the pandemic has influenced cross-border mobility negatively. The research questions in the project are: Quantitative and qualitative methods, including case studies in different regions, will be used in the project. The project involves a reference group with informants and stakeholders from Info Norden and cross-border regions.

Marint Gränsforum Skagerrak – external evaluation

MarintGränsforum Skagerrak aims at cross-border and trans-disciplinary collaboration in order to strengthen Skagerrak as a viable environment and a blue growth region, and in parallel to protect the national parks and their role for a sustainable environment. Nordregio has conducted an external evaluation of the Interreg project “Marint Gränsforum Skagerrak”.

Sweden-Norway Cross-Border Mapping

The aim of this research is to help to determine the focus and direction of cross-border collaboration within the Interreg Sweden-Norway programme area for 2021-2027 EU Cohesion policy programme period. The research has the following objectives: Provide background information on the current socio-economic development trends in core regions of the programme area; including, on the Swedish side, the Region Värmland, Region Dalarna, Västra Götalands Region, Region Jämtland-Härjedalen, Region Västernorrland and the Norwegian counties Viken, Innlandet and Tröndelag; Conduct a SWOT analysis of the programme area to identify areas of strength, weakness, opportunity and threats for cross-border collaboration in the programme area; Assess how development trends and SWOT analysis match up with EU Cohesion Policy’s 5 main thematic objectives for the 2021-2027 programme: Smarter Europe; Greener Carbon Free Europe; Connected Europe; Social Europe; Europe Closer to its Citizens; Examine how development trends and SWOT analysis link up with new EU cohesion policy instruments including the European Cross-Border Mechanism, Interregional Innovative Investments and Pan-European Clusters;    Provide recommendations on the future direction of cross border collaboration in the Sweden-Norway programme area. Nordregio is a lead research institution on this project conducting a desk-based analysis of EU, national and regional level policy documents, and semi-structured interviews with key regional level stakeholders.

Sami Youth Involvement in Regional Development

The purpose of the analysis is to provide insight into the priorities and initiatives of Sami youth and Sami education institutions regarding economic development. The findings will be discussed in a comparative perspective, considering the differences and similarities between Sami youth perspectives and education institutions in Norway, Sweden and Finland. The analysis will address the following questions: 1. What are the perspectives and initiatives of Sami youth associations regarding regional economic development? 2. How do Sami education institutions consider and design education programmes to support the linkages between the Sami indigenous culture and regional and rural economic development? The analysis will conclude with recommendations for policymakers and practitioners working with regional and rural development in Sapmi, including opportunities for cross-border collaboration. Recommendations will centre on opportunities for promoting the link between Sami youth and regional and rural development regarding the main Sami business development areas. Sustainable development perspectives concerning the environment (e.g. land use), gender (e.g. the challenge that especially women are moving), and the balance between culture and economic development are integrated into the research.

Evaluation of the Hedmark-Dalarna border committee

The purpose of the project is to evaluate the effects and results of the work undertaken by the border committee Hedmark-Dalarna in the period 2012-2019. The project will also look at the mega-regional effects and impacts based on the developments since the border committee’s establishment in 2012. The committee was established through and Interreg Sweden-Norway project in April 2012 and has since experienced significant changes; both in terms of project models and change of staff and collaboration partners. The added value of the cross-border collaboration is often under discussion. The regional reform in Dalarna merging the county and the county administrative board in 2019 (now Region Dalarna) and the forthcoming establishment of Innlandet County 2019-2020 shows to pertinent changes that may affect cross-border collaborations. Thus, the evaluation of the border committees role in the new enlarged regions is important. Additionally, this would help place the border committee in relative terms of the new regions whilst help indicate what effects regional reforms have for border committees as organisations in general. Another aspect of this project is to evaluate the border committee’s innovative function. This is based on the OECD report from 2013 (Nauwelaers et al., 2013) on the development of innovation policies in the border regions, particularly considering governance structures.

Regional collaboration on service provision and social innovation

The main objective of this project is to identify and analyse good practices that serve as examples for learning and finding tools, methods and approaches to improve service provision. Implemented under the Nordic Thematic Group for Sustainable Rural Development, the project will focus on new and innovative forms of service supply. Case study examples will shed a light on how different services are co-created through different types of inter-municipal, inter-regional and cross-border collaborations, including the involvement of non-governmental organizations / non-profit organizations. The geographical focus is on rural areas in different parts of the Nordic Region. Types of services covered Education: Den Forberedende Grunduddannelsse (DK) & Bergö (FI) Health: Vältel (NO-SE) & Bergö (FI) Transportation: HentMeg (NO) Elderly Care: Bergö (FI) Infrastructure Internet: #Fulltäckning (SE) Infrastructure Road / Tunnels: Tunnel in Isafjördur (IS) Types of collaboration / levels of governance involved Micro-Level: Bergö (Fi) Inter-municipal collaboration: Den Forberedende Grunduddannelsse (Dk), #Fulltäckning (Se), Tunnel in Isafjördur (Is), Hentmeg (No) Cross-border collaboration: Vältel (NO-SE) The project is currently under development and based on close cooperation between Nordregio and the members of the Nordic Thematic Group for Sustainable Rural Development. The results of the study are expected to be presented to the Nordic Thematic Group and at the Nordregio Forum in November 2020. Visit project page here: The project is a part of the Nordic Thematic Group for Sustainable Rural Development.

Health care and care with distance-spanning technologies, e-health and digitalisation

The Nordic countries face similar challenges regarding an ageing population and depopulation of the rural areas. This poses challenges to the traditional health care and care systems. One way of dealing with these challenges is to take advantage of digitalization and distance spanning technologies. The project Healthcare and Care with Distance-spanning Technologies (Vård och omsorg på distans, or VOPD) aims at supporting the development of distance spanning digital solutions in health care and care in the Nordic Region. It was initiated by the Swedish chairmanship program of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2018 and runs until 2020. The objective is to survey the use of digital technology in health care to display best practice and analyse regional development effects. The project has published 24 distance-spanning solutions for healthcare and social care. This publication contains the 24 most relevant digital solutions in healthcare and care in our five Nordic countries. What they have in common is that they are widespread; meaning that they are already implemented in many places, the solutions work and have a proven track record. Another distinguishing feature of these solutions is that they are a collection of different digital services that make a big difference, positive contribution, to many people daily life around the Nordic region. Nordregio is responsible for conducting case studies in the Nordic countries: Sogn og Fjordane and Luster kommune, East Iceland and Fjarðabyggð and Fljótsdalshéraði, Västerbotten and Storuman, Nord Denmark and Morsø Kommune, South Karelia and Lappeenranta.  More information is available at the project website: The following categories of distance solutions in health care and care are included in the survey:• Remote treatment – health care treatment provided from distance (incl. telemedicine, treatment and consultation via online tools and self-treatment)• Remote monitoring – monitoring from distance (incl. sensors, cameras, reminders and data…

Territorial Impact Assessment for Cross-border Cooperation

This project aims at developing and testing a methodology specifically tailored to assess ex-post territorial impacts of Cross Border Cooperation programmes. Nordregio is leading a case study territorial impact assessment of the Interreg V-A Sweden-Norway Programme. This will involve working closely with Managing Authorities and programme area experts in the development of an intervention logic for assessing programme area challenges, needs, objectives and indicators to measure the impact of the Sweden Norway cross-border programme. The project will provide policymakers and practitioners with a tool for developing and measuring programme indicators for the next programming period.

Business Financing in the Arctic

The way forward to crack the code to an efficient, well-coordinated business financing system, covering the Arctic as a whole. The purpose of this project is to enable the Arctic businesses to access potentials in commercial transportation opportunities in the Arctic, closer integration of the Arctic business community with the world market, easier access to natural resources, increase in tourism etc. Insufficient finance the missing link to business growth The Arctic regions contain many promising opportunities for development – culturally, demographically, commercially and economically. This project aims to support an economic growth that respects traditional values and environmental concerns to benefit all of the Arctic communities. The Artic regions have a lot in common but are also very different. First, they are all sparsely populated. This means that economies of scale are difficult to reach, adding transportation or communication costs the other costs of production. Second, even though the geographical extension is huge, total population sizes are small and divided between the different countries and regions. An analysis of business financing opportunities A growing business sector depends on many factors – sufficient demand, transportation and communication possibilities, technologies and competent labour. These factors are all recognized and analysed with the aim to understand how to overcome the barrier of lacking and insufficient business financing in the Arctic. In the field of financing, the central challenge is to develop well-functioning financial ecosystems. This will take some years, but some initiatives may be effectual already in the short run. We already know – from our work in many remote regions – that interregional and cross-border collaboration, pooling of resources and better coordination and targeting and finetuning of existing instruments towards the specific local and regional framework conditions can help improve and build up business culture and investments climate significantly. Key steps in…

Transport for Regional Integration in Border Regions (TRIBORDER)

The TRIBORDER project aims to analyze the potential challenges of planning and developing transport connections across the borders in the Nordic region. The project activities will contribute to the work of the Nordic Thematic Group for Sustainable Cities and Urban Development, 2017-2020. Nordregio tasks within the TRIBORDER project consist of three main activities that all have a shared focus on public transport projects, planning in the context of cross-border regions and urban-rural relations. The first activity will investigate the local reception of the fast rail connection between Oslo and Stockholm. Nordregio researchers will look at the existing literature on consequences of new high-speed rail stations in small and medium sized cities and will conduct interviews with local actors in the regions of Värmland in Sweden and Østfold in Norway. The second activity will analyze effects of the ferry connection between Umeå and Vaasa on their surrounding urban regions. The study will include different factors such as commuting, labor market and cross border integration. The third activity will focus on the public transport system in the cross-border region of Greater Copenhagen. It will analyze connectivity and urban planning in relation to public transport. The examples of public transport projects in the three case study regions of Värmland-Østfold, Kvarken and Greater Copenhagen are chosen in order to illustrate the potential challenges of planning and development across national borders in the Nordic context. The border committees in these three areas are active partners in the projects along with Nordregio and members of the Thematic Group for Sustainable Cities and Urban Development. The project will contribute to a better understanding of the urban-rural relations at play in small and medium sized Nordic cities, and thereby contribute to the fulfilment of one of the overarching goals of the Thematic Group for Sustainable Cities and Urban…

PanBaltic SCOPE

The objective of the project is to contribute to more coherent maritime spatial planning (MSP) strategies in the Baltic Sea region (BSR) and to build lasting macro-regional mechanisms for cross-border MSP cooperation. To achieve the overall objective the project shall: – Build on the results and experiences from a series of MSP-related projects in the Baltic Sea Region, in particular the Baltic SCOPE project (2015-17), as well as on the national MSP processes; – Establish a Planning Forum for cross-border cooperation; – Facilitate and carry out concrete cross-border activities at different geographical levels in the Baltic Sea Region to meet the needs of the national MSP processes and to support the Member States in successfully implementing the MSP-directive; – Develop approaches and tools at pan-Baltic level to contribute to coherent MSP in the BSR. Coherence is achieved gradually, as countries are at different stages of MSP development and have different needs; – Support practical implementation of an ecosystem- based approach in MSP in the BSR; – Develop methods to build better marine spatial planning processes with land use spatial planning processes to emphasize the land-sea interactions influencing the development of the coastal areas as well as the status of the Baltic Sea; – Share best practices and build new knowledge to inform and support MSP in the BSR. Nordregio roles 1) As leader of Activity 1.1.5 Lessons Learned, Nordregio provides feedback on progress to planners throughout the lifetime of the project, and conducts an overall assessment oflessons learned: A Lessons Learned Report with the focus on a) solutions on improved cross-border cooperation, b) stakeholder mobilization and integration, c) advancing the implementation of the EBA, d) data sharing, e) Land-Sea Interaction; 2) Leading of WP 1.3. Integrating Land-Sea Interaction into MSP. This WP is to identify and practically work with important…

ESPON Cross-border Public Services

A European-wide survey will be developed to collect coherent data on the implementation of cross-border public services (CPS) in Europe.

The potential of Smart Specialisation for enhancing innovation and resilience in Nordic regions

Drafting Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (S3) has become an ex ante condition to access the EU Structural Funds for the 2014-2020 program period. This implies that for the first time, the fundamental goals of territorial cohesion through EU regional policy has become ‘welded’ with the objectives of innovation and competition (Bellini, 2015). The idea of S3 is not new – neither in general nor specifically in the Nordic context. Specialisation in the form of prioritisation of regional strengths and opportunities as well as multi-actor collaboration have been promoted and applied in many Nordic regions. However, there is still lack of understanding of added-value of S3 implementation in the Nordic context. The current study builds on the priorities identified by the Nordic Thematic Group for Innovative and Resilient Regions: Public support mechanisms Mobilization and (re)organization of relevant innovation actors within regional innovation systems (i.e. universities, intermediaries etc.) ‘Nordic model’ of smart specialization and its added-value Green transition Phase 1, a thorough knowledge and policy overview of smart specialisation in the Nordic Region has been completed and a preliminary report was presented to the thematic group in November 2017. Attempting to get a systematic overview of how the Nordic regions have adopted and adapted the concept of smart specialisation in their respective regional innovation strategies, it becomes evident that there is a significant knowledge gap for understanding how these countries might position themselves in comparison to their Nordic counterparts. This is particularly relevant for future collaborative cross-border work, as well as for identifying whether there is a specific ‘Nordic model’ of smart specialisation, considering both the presence of natural resources and the governance frameworks in place supporting innovation. Cross-sectoral collaboration has the longest tradition in Sweden and in Finland, implying that the most extensive S3 strategies can be found in these…

State of Lapland

Under this commissioned work by the Regional Council of Lapland in Finland, Nordregio produces a report entitled as ‘State of the Lapland Region’, which is based on the model of Nordregio’s State of the Nordic Region 2016 Report (available here). State of Lapland Region includes maps, data and a future-oriented analysis of the development trends in the Finnish Lapland, focusing on the following themes: Demography Labour market Economy Regional Potential index Data and analysis will be generated from 2008 onwards and emphasis will be given to comparing the Finnish Lapland to other regions and municipalities in the North Calotte region (i.e. Norrbotten in Sweden, Finnmark, Troms and Nordland in Norway, and Murmansk in Russia) as well as in the wider Nordic Region. As the analysis and visualisations of the State of the Lapland Region will be based on harmonised cross-border data, the report will make it possible to identify municipalities in the neighbouring Swedish and Norwegian regions with similar characteristics as Lapland’s municipalities, providing a starting point for possible cross-border cooperation and learning from each other on e.g. how to tackle similar issues related to regional development. The report will contribute to a foresight project undertaken by the Regional Council of Lapland and serve as an evidence-based feed-in to the development of regional strategies in Lapland. Read the report “State of the Lapland Region” here.

ESPON COMPASS (2016-2018)

Comparative Analysis of Territorial Governance and Spatial Planning Systems in Europe (COMPASS) is an ESPON Applied Research Project, which will provide an authoritative comparative report on territorial governance and spatial planning systems in Europe. The project will substantially improve the knowledge based on territorial governance and spatial planning, and in particular, their role in the formulation and implementation of EU Cohesion Policy. ESPON has published the final repost of the project and all of its volumes. These can be found here.    The ESPON COMPASS team at the kick off in Delft in September 2016. Nordregio has an important role in the project as a leading Nordic research institute on regional development and urban planning specialised in international comparative and collaborative research. The main tasks for Nordregio are to lead the development of the methodological framework, to provide expertise, knowledge and analysis on spatial planning and territorial governance in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Nordregio will also conduct one of the case studies; contribute with maps and general expertise regarding comparative planning research and EU policies related to territorial governance and spatial planning. The objectives of the ESPON COMPASS project are: to describe and explain changes in territorial governance and spatial planning systems and policies across Europe since 2000, and the reasons for these changes with particular reference to EU directives and policies; to identify good practices for the cross-fertilisation of spatial and territorial development policies with EU Cohesion Policy; to recommend how national and regional spatial and territorial development policy perspectives can be more effectively reflected in EU Cohesion and other sector policies, and vice versa. The envisioned outcomes of the ESPON COMPASS project are: a structured comparative analysis of territorial governance and spatial planning systems in all 28 EU Member States plus the four ESPON Partner States…

Towards coherence and cross-border solutions in Maritime Spatial Planning (Baltic SCOPE)

Pressure on maritime space is increasing and while addressing environmental issues remains high on the agenda, blue growth is gaining political salience as an essential area for promoting economic growth and competitiveness. The project has come to an end and more information including the publications can be found here. Economic activities in the Baltic Sea Region are rapidly increasing. The emergence of new activities, such as the development of offshore wind farms, has enhanced competition for sea space and added additional pressure to the sustainable utilization of sea areas. As both national and sectorial interests increasingly overlap, there is need to adopt a more holistic approach in the development of processes and practices for the sustainable management of maritime spaces. In response to these developments, the EU launched the 2014 Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP), directing all EU Member States to establish and implement national Maritime Spatial Plans. Projects such as Baltic SCOPE, financed by DG Mare, contribute to this process by supporting national planning authorities in the development of common processes designed to seek solutions to transboundary issues in the Baltic Sea Region. The Baltic Scope project is coordinated by the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SWAM) and focuses on two case studies (see map) in which partners from Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Latvia and Estonia discuss and develop potential solutions to cross-border MSP issues in an attempt to increase the alignment of national maritime spatial plans. As one of the main partners in the project consortium, Nordregio´s central role is to examine stakeholder interaction in the two case studies (through participant observation and the implementation of a Delphi survey) in order to distil lessons learned and highlight good practices in cross-border MSP policymaking processes. This is done by adapting and applying the concept of territorial…