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13 Ongoing Projects

Measuring Urban Sustainability in Transition (MUST): Co-Designing Future Arctic Cities in the Anthropocene 

MUST project seeks to organize wide-ranging collaborations among the international Arctic research community that will facilitate convergent research on the natural, social, and built environment transitions taking place in and around Arctic cities now and in the future. Arctic cities face multiple challenges from a changing environment, deteriorating infrastructure, and new pressures on the governance system. The key drivers behind these challenges are the changing climate, the accelerating energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables, demographic pressures, and demands for equity. In order to respond effectively, policy makers need a clear set of indicators that will help them measure changes in the natural environment to devise infrastructure and governance strategies that will assist Arctic cities to achieve future prosperity. A long-term research agenda and platform around Arctic urban sustainability as well as using cities and indicators as the centralizing organizing theme helps to integrate diverse theories and empirical evidence with new data. The focus on Arctic urban spaces and inclusion of Russia and other international partners addresses areas that need more attention. Creation of the indicators will establish a solid foundation for starting community conversations, clarifying values, measuring both the status quo and progress going forward, and understanding the linkages among the various elements of urban sustainability in extreme climatic conditions. The indicators introduce a shared vocabulary and explicit measures and assumptions that will allow studies across a variety of disciplines to validate, challenge and speak to each other. This collaboratory effort builds on previous NSF-funded work that developed a database measuring 128 indicators across 19 topics in 46 Arctic cities providing a snapshot of current conditions. This effort will make it possible to develop theories and test hypotheses in the natural, social, and urban planning sciences by adding historical data to the existing dataset making it possible to explore…

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…

Electric aviation and the effects on the Nordic regions 

The Nordic countries have ambitious plans to turn electric aviation into a reality in the Nordic countries in the near future. But how would this impact regions and local communities? This project​ analyses the effects of electric aviation on Nordic regional development. The Nordic regions share similar challenges of accessibility and mobility for remote and rural regions. Since the first-generation electric airplanes are small and have a limited range, they would suit many remote areas in Nordic Region. The time saved using electric aviation instead of car or rail can be extensive because of the geographies of water and mountains you must cross or pass. The increased mobility and accessibility have the potential of creating effects in regions and local communities, such as access to public services, and the establishment of companies or job opportunities. The effects can, however also be negative for some communities since increased accessibility also provides the possibility to leave the areas for work or education in other regions. Further, electric aviation can contribute to the green transition. The project investigates the effects on regions and local communities of implementing electric aviation. It will also contribute to the discussion of electric aviation as a sustainable transport mode for remote regions and highlight the contribution to Nordic mobility and sustainability. The study will explore the following research questions:​ Investigate the benefits and disadvantages of implementing electric aviation in regions and local communities in the Nordic region in terms of time saved, accessibility, work opportunities and skills for businesses, the public sector, the tourism sector and citizens. ​ Investigate environmental and climate impacts in regions and local communities.​ Investigate what kinds of infrastructure and energy capacity are needed to implement electric aviation in an efficient manner in order to respond to local needs. ​ Investigate critical factors for…

Systems perspectives on green innovation (GRINGO)

The project aim is to uncover existing bottlenecks for sectors/businesses engaged in green transitions. To do this, we investigate the role of change agency processes, and the way in which policies and framework conditions impact on green transition changes in sectors/businesses across the Nordic Region. These policies and framework conditions may refer to e.g., national, and regional innovation policies such as smart specialisation strategies and regulations, but also opportunity spaces for innovation, and individual actions. This project should reveal some of the bottlenecks to innovation, that connect, enable, or impede change and the green transition, from a systemic perspective. The project will depart from the point of businesses as change agents and their change processes as part of the green transition, in specific innovative and green sectors. Project objectives: To understand the role of businesses as change agents in green transitions. To understand how systems and place-based innovation policies influence transformative processes within sectors. To understand what bottlenecks to innovative change needs to be resolved in order to facilitate green transitions in different sectors. Nordregio’s researchers will conduct three qualitative case studies from across the Nordic Region. The project will result in a report and policy brief in 2024. A discussion paper will be published in June 2022, followed by a webinar on innovation and the green transition in the autumn of 2022. Discussion paper on “The Systems Perspectives on Green Innovation”

Accelerating wood construction across Nordics and Russia

This project has been halted based on the Nordic Council of Ministers’ decision to discontinue collaboration with Russia and Belarus, announced on the 4th of May. The project aims at supporting sustainable and innovative production and use of wood-based building materials across Northwest Russia and the Nordics. Using wood in construction provides multiple benefits to nature and economies. It is by far the most effective way to cut emissions and capture carbon. It also promotes a transition towards green economies, boosts business exchange opportunities and adds value locally. This project focuses on influencing skills development, facilitating business relations and catalysing processes through the exchange of knowledge, technology and practices across universities, businesses and authorities. Activities will be held in Arkhangelsk, Karelia, Murmansk, St Petersburg and the Nordics from December 2021 until December 2022. The project is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

A Just Green Transition in rural areas: local benefits from value creation

Rural areas can play a very important role in the green transition as far the majority of natural resources are located here. There may, however, be a real risk that the rural areas end up working merely as instruments to national and international agendas and as engines for the urban areas without any real local benefits for the rural communities and rural populations. So, how to make green transition just for all parties? The main objective of this research project is to examine a just green transition in rural areas in theNordic region and explore measures on how local value creation can be ensured from the greentransition in the rural communities. Focus rests on two interrelated pillars: Energy transitions and related land use planning and measures to rurally proof them, Value created out of these transition efforts for the benefit of rural areas. A literature review will outline key concepts and working definitions, and a Discussion paper will be published in spring 2022. Nordic policy priorities and challenges are compiled in a Policy Overview and Policy Brief in the summer of 2022. Place-based examples of just and/or unjust transitions will be explored in case studies around the Nordics during the summer and fall of 2022. The results will be discussed in workshops and partnerships for green transition will be supported by experts and compiled in report and disseminated during winter of 2022-2023. This project is part of the Nordic collaboration and the Thematic group: Green and Inclusive Rural Development in the Nordics (2021-2024).

Not Just a Green Transition (NJUST) – Examining the path towards a socially just green transition in the Nordic Region

Not Just a Green Transition – Examining the path towards a socially just green transition in the Nordic Region (short name: NJUST) contributes to a just transition towards a climate neutral Nordic Region. The researchers explore perceptions among those experiencing the change first-hand and focus on how to best support the Nordic people and especially potentially vulnerable groups, primarily unemployed and those at risk of unemployment as well as older adults, children and persons with disabilities. Towards a strong knowledge base and policy relevanceThe starting point will be to create a knowledge base where a literature review, policy review and analyses of spatial and socio-economic effects of green transition policies will be conducted. The project will send out surveys and perform sentiment analyses to explore how people experience the ongoing green transition on an individual level. Based on the knowledge base, a policy proposal toolbox will be created and disseminated to the relevant policymakers across the Nordic countries and self-governing regions. The toolbox shall contain policies and measures to reduce the potentially negative spatial and social impacts of the green transition. All publications will be openly available on Nordregio’s website. A big collaboration effort: focus groups and dialogue meetings to validate the resultsThe project interacts with labour market representatives, unions and civil society actors, invites vulnerable group representatives to join focus groups and dialogue meetings and reaches out to citizens via surveys. Nordic and national policymakers are the main target group for the project results and special communication efforts will be channelled to these groups. NJUST invites all stakeholders annually to join an open event to share and build knowledge. The first event takes place in August 2022 and more information will be available here during the spring. The NJUST project works closely and reports to several Committees of Senior…

BioBaltic – Nordic-Baltic cooperation within bio-circular-economy

The project aims at deepening Nordic-Baltic cooperation around bio-circular-economy. Both – Nordic and Baltic countries are rich in biological and renewable resources and have a long tradition in utilizing these resources for generating economic growth through the traditional sectors, such as forestry, agriculture, and fisheries, as well as related sectors including food processing, tourism etc. This project provides a platform for generating awareness of different bioeconomy models through peer-to-peer learning and building networks across Baltic and Nordic countries. This collaboration will enable knowledge generation and exchange among multiple actors, including youth. The collaboration will focus on different aspects of bioeconomy transition, including financing aspects, industrial partnerships and symbiosis or the opportunities of digitalisation. A two-way learning channel will be established between each Baltic country and the Nordic Countries through Nordregio. The ‘Mobile Learning Hubs’ (MLHs), coordinated by the NCM offices in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, will collect and disseminate practical and scientific knowledge on bio-circular-economy, in collaboration with local actors. Discussion paper on Digitalisation of Food Systems

Local ownership in transitions towards sustainable energy systems

Lokalt ägandeskap i omställning till hållbara energisystem Local ownership in transitions towards sustainable energy systems is a three-year research project that will explore the role of local ownership in facilitating successful energy transitions in Sweden. Additionally, the project will focus on how local ownership can be facilitated through for instance public participation processes or community energy projects. Local and citizen ownership are highlighted by the EU as important for the energy transition. A qualitative, participatory research design will explore these subjects. Case studies and a knowledge exchange network are used to co-create knowledge with stakeholders on how to foster participation and ownership in energy transitions with the goal to produce consistent policy recommendations. The Swedish Energy Agency funded project will increase knowledge on the role of local ownership as a contributor to transitions towards sustainable energy systems.

Smart Specialisation Västerbotten

Nordregio and Norrum support Region Västerbotten in their work of revising their Regional innovation strategy and developing a Strategy for Smart Specialisation.   During the last years an increasing amount of regions in Sweden had developed or refined their strategy for smart specialisation. It is a method and a tool to increase the region’s competitive advantages by identifying local strength. The process is based on a multi-actor model (EDP) that brings together actors to jointly discuss which strategic areas that are most favorable for the region in terms of strength, finances, and resources. The model is an interactive process that focuses on innovation and collaboration to develop new activities, anchor decisions, and strengthen the actors involved in the process. It results in common priorities for smart specialization that will benefit the entire region. In the mission, Nordregio and Jukka Teräs at Norrum will provide Region Västerbotten with support in their smart specialisation process by proving analysis of opportunities and challenges of identifying smart specialisation areas, by performing semi structured interviews with stakeholders in the region and by organising focus group interviews where the results from the interviews are discussed. The mission started in 2020 and was prolonged because of the Covid-19. The project will be finished at the end of 2021.

DigiBEST

DigiBEST is an interregional cooperation project for policy improvement of SME’s competitiveness promotion co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and Norwegian national funding through the INTERREG EUROPE programme. The overall objective of the project is to support and promote SMEs competitiveness through digital transformation of SMEs in rural European territories by proposing solutions to enhance their capacity to use advanced technologies and new innovative business approaches for promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe and its regions. Nordregio was engaged as an external expert to provide a peer review of the work of the Latvian project partner. We undertook this task on behalf of the Norwegian project partner, Trøndelag County Council, and worked in partnership with a similar expert from Austria. The ultimate aim was to provide recommendations to support SME digitalisation in Latvia based on experiences in Norway and Austria.

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”.

Update of the VASAB-LTP for the Territorial Development of BSR

This project aims to update the strategy VASAB Long Term Perspective (LTP) for the territorial development of the Baltic Sea Region – BSR. The revision of this transnational strategic spatial planning document on territorial integration builds on relevant topics of existing VASAB LTP (1994, 2009) and will incorporate a future-oriented perspective. The revision will consider current and future trends that are likely to influence the territorial development of the macro-region. The update of the long-term vision is envisaged as an iterative and participatory process involving a wide range of relevant stakeholders. Together with Spatial Foresight, Nordregio will develop a background synthesis report that will cover the experience and lessons learned from the current VASAB long-term perspective; important trends shaping future developments in the Baltic Sea Region and key relevant policy documents to which the long-term perspective need to relate to. This report will be fundamental to guide the new spatial vision that will endeavour for a sustainable, inclusive and digital Baltic Sea Region in 2040.

Ensuring inclusive economic growth in the transition to a green economy

This research project analyses how the Nordic countries can accelerate the green transition towards a climate-neutral economy. All Nordic countries have committed to ambitious goals for the green transition of their economies. At the same time, they are experiencing economic declines due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They also face structural challenges such as population ageing and population decline, which are particularly pronounced in rural and remote areas. This research project will contribute to the discussion on how to restart the Nordic economies and accelerate the green transition towards a climate-neutral economy while ensuring that these processes are inclusive. Nordregio is responsible for several working packages: WP1 will analyse the distributive effects of climate policies. This will include analysing how gaps between richer and poorer population groups and regions have developed since the last economic crisis (Task 2) and how such differences might be affected by ongoing and planned climate policies (Task 1). The project will also explore how socio-economic gaps between regions link to emerging ‘geographies of discontent’, where people in more peripheral communities across Norden develop a fear of being left behind. WP2 shall contribute to our understanding of the regional preconditions in which the green transition takes place. First, this will include a comparative analysis of the different countries’ regional policies (Task 3). We will analyse which types of policies have the best effect in strengthening economic development outside of the bigger city regions. Second, this WP will analyse how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the conditions and progress of the green transition and offer recommendations on how to move forward (Task 4). Nordregio is also in charge of the administration and communication of the project. The project is led by the Nordic Council of Ministers’ finance sector (MR-Finans) in cooperation with the regional sector (MR-R) as well…

Territorial Just Transition Plans for Gotland and Norrbotten

This project is a consultancy one and is being led by TrinomicsNordregio has been hired to support Tillväxtverket in the process of putting together the Territorial Just Transition Plans (TJTP) for Gotland and Norrbotten regions. Nordregio’s role in this project is to contribute to institutional, administrative and growth-sustaining structural reforms in Sweden, in line with Article 4 of the SRSP Regulation. The specific objective of Nordregio’s contribution is the finalisation of one or more territorial just transition plans for Sweden (Gotland and Norrbotten). The TJTP are the main governance mechanisms supporting the Just Transition Mechanism, which is a policy instrument linked to the European Green Deal. The Just Transition Mechanism focuses on those regions and sectors that are most affected by the transition to a climate-neutral economy given their dependence on fossil fuels, including coal, peat and oil shale or greenhouse gas-intensive industrial processes.

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.

Study on taxation in support of green transition

The objective of this study is to map tax measures (taxes and tax incentives) targeting greenhouse gas emissions as well as harmful subsidies across the EU (and beyond). The Commission wants to understand what tax measures countries use to reduce GHG emissions. While there is quite a lot of discussion on some measures, e.g. on carbon taxes, and there is no comprehensive overview of the measures out there. Nordregio supports Ecorys and W-IF-0 (Austrian Institute for Economic Research), in this study for DG TAXUD. Nordregio will carry out analyses for these countries: Denmark Iceland Norway Sweden The aim is to gain an overview per country of: what measures exist what their key features are what their effects are which ones are functioning particularly well

SeMPER-Arctic – Sense Making, Place attachment and Extended networks as sources of Resilience in the Arctic

This project proceeds without a Russian institutional partner, based on the Nordic Council of Ministers’ decision to discontinue collaboration with Russia and Belarus, announced on the 4th of May. SeMPER-Arctic gathers local stories of changes, shocks, upheavals and their aftermaths in the face of climate change in three Arctic communities. Nordregio is involved in gathering regional development and public policy narratives and ensure impact maximation of the research results. The local narratives of resilience will be gathered in three Arctic communities: Uummannaq in Western Greenland, Ittoqqortoormiit in Eastern Greenland and Tiksi in Yakutsk, Russia. Two external types of stories will be collected: regional development and public policy narratives and environmental science narratives. The purpose is to analyse how the two external narratives interact with local narratives of resilience in order to assess their impacts. The objective is to develop a narrative centred, locally rooted, place-based understanding of resilience within arctic communities. As such resilience and narrative analysis are the central framework in SeMPER-Arctic which will contribute to the knowledge base on global environmental change through locally guided enquiry of what it means to be a resilient arctic community in the 21st century Nordregio gathers the regional development and public policy narratives relevant for Uummannaq and Ittoqqortoormiit. In parallel, North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk gathers the narratives in Tiksi. Nordregio leads the work package on impact maximation of research results in collaboration with the local partner Arctic Business Circle. Through local workshops, the aim is to engage into action the SeMPER-Arctic research findings. Visit the subsite of the project here: https://nordregioprojects.org/semper-arctic/

NORDGREEN – Smart Planning for Healthy and Green Nordic Cities

How are human wellbeing and access to green spaces integrated into city planning? The aim of NORDGREEN is to support integrated planning efforts for urban sustainability by developing and implementing smart planning and management solutions for well-designed, high-quality greenspace that promotes equity, health and wellbeing. The starting points are the connection of green space accessibility and public health effects, the social sustainability challenges of segregated and densifying cities, and the need for strengthened links between citizen participation and implemented plans. NORDGREEN involves sets of local and regional health and greenspace data, Public Participation Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS) applications and surveys, and analysis of ongoing planning and management. By examining the health-greenspace nexus with the help of environmental psychology and epidemiology data, the knowledge base for public health strategies and policies on greenspace planning, management and design will be strengthened. By applying methods of PPGIS, the understanding and integration of citizens’ needs, demands and use of greenspace into the planning process will increase and the links between citizen participation and implemented plans will be strengthened. NORDGREEN includes participatory co-production with cities and citizens – and pays attention to socio-economically vulnerable citizen groups. It uses both quantitative and qualitative methods and materials and involves six cities and towns from four Nordic countries – Aarhus (DK); Stavanger (NO), Vilhelmina (SE), Täby (SE), Espoo (FI) and Ii (FI). Studying and supporting greenspace planning in practice in the six cities will increase the understanding of how different approaches to planning and management influence the outcome, with particular focus on health, social sustainability and co-production. The research will result in co-created, scalable and transferable knowledge-based planning and management tools for the six cities, as well as for other cities in the Nordic region and beyond. Visit the project website for updates and to learn more: nordregioprojects.org/nordgreen/

Legislation and policies of urban green areas in the Nordic countries

The aim with the project is to gain an overview of which instruments – i.e. legislation and examples of national policies, that are associated with and regulates urban greenery, green spaces and green values in urban areas in each of the five Nordic countries. The project aims to briefly describe what the identified instruments specifically regulate or their guidance. The project will also provide examples in concrete projects, plans or programmes when it comes to developing, preserving and protecting green urban areas. The project limits itself to the five Nordic country’s planning legislation and related environmental legislation (e.g. the Environmental Code in Sweden) or other relevant legislation. Two European countries’ legislations and policies will also be mapped.