9 Ongoing Projects
ESPON TERRES aims to unpack territorial resilience to support spatial planning and urban development, strengthening the absorptive, adaptive and transformational governance capacities of European regions in the context of long-term multi-crisis trajectories. The project aims to guide the future generation of EU Cohesion and sectoral policies by providing a conceptual and analytical framework for characterising “territorial resilience” as a multi-dimensional and dynamic concept. The notion of territorial resilience developed in ESPON TERRES overcomes current policy paradigms to emphasize a lasting shift towards learning capacities, institutional innovation, cultural norms, and community values. Regional resilience is understood as a capacity not just to absorb and adapt to external shocks (‘bouncing back’ perspective) but also to address the transformational capabilities to deal with and be ready for both present and impending crises (‘bouncing forwards’ approach). These principles contribute to improving the understanding and to unlocking the opportunities implicit in the concept of territorial resilience, overcoming policy and research siloes through fruitful dialogue among researchers (the scientific level), policy-makers (the normative level) and practitioners (the operational level). The specific activities in the ESPON TERRES project are as follows:
Cross-border cooperation between Sweden and Norway
The study aims to provide knowledge on how cross-border cooperation issues have been addressed in the regional development policy in Sweden and Norway, highlighting some key opportunities and challenges. The study is based on a review of key steering documents and qualitative interviews. It will result in recommendations on how cross-border cooperation between Sweden and Norway can be further strengthened. Cross-border cooperation provides important development opportunities for Sweden and Norway. Region Värmland has for a long time prioritized cooperation with Norway. Bilateral cooperation agreements have been signed with the Norwegian neighbouring counties and joint projects have been implemented. Region Värmland and its Norwegian neighbours contribute to maintaining trust and cohesion in the Nordic region by promoting common values such as culture, democracy, equality, inclusion, non-discrimination, and freedom of expression. The study is based on a review of the national steering documents for regional development, as well as qualitative interviews with representatives of relevant actors at the national and regional levels, academia, regional networks and organizations.
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.
Democratising jUst Sustainability Transitions (DUST)
The HORIZON EUROPE project Democratising jUst Sustainability Transitions (DUST) aims to develop new participatory instruments in sustainability transitions that enhance citizen participation and trust in democratic governance. It aims to recognise the voices of least-engaged communities by focusing on regions dependent on energy-intensive industries which will be affected by sustainability transitions. We will conduct research using mixed methods in 8 case study regions in Europe, including Region Gotland and Region Norrbotten in Sweden, to investigate the factors enhancing or hindering citizen participation. Participatory experiments will also be conducted in 4 of the case study regions where just sustainability transitions pose great challenges. In these experiments the project will test the potential of innovative design-led territorial and digital tools for citizen participation. The project outputs will be a collection of evidence-based instruments, methods, good practices, and knowledge packages for a comprehensive and just transformation. Nordregio is responsible for the implementation of the UNESCO futures literacy lab, an innovative participatory tool that give citizens the opportunity to reframe future developments via new anticipatory assumptions and questions on just sustainability transitions. Participants discuss alternative future scenarios for transitions, which will then inform regional designs and forecast the impact of ongoing and upcoming sustainability transition measures. The case of Norrbotten will be developed in close collaboration with the partner Hela Sverige Ska Leva Norrbotten as well as national, regional and local governance bodies and other civil society organisations.
On increasingly strained housing markets, affordable housing development has become a key concern in housing policy in the Nordic countries. Public policy explicitly states that new housing should be provided in many price and rent segments with the aim of reaching wider shares of the population, as well as contributing to socially mixed neighborhoods. In the project Strategic Housing, we wish to generate new knowledge on measuring housing market inclusiveness and use this to understand local housing market dynamics and to stimulate cities to develop a more active and comprehensive housing policy. The larger part of the project focus on Norwegian cities and towns, but Nordregio’s share in the project is an outlook on neighboring countries and how they plan for a more inclusive housing supply. One subproject investigates cities’ involvement with the housing needs of mid-income groups. Mid-income households are often depicted as the real losers when it comes to finding new housing as they can neither afford housing on market terms nor are entitled to public support. Here, we take a look at if, how and why the cities of Copenhagen, Hamburg, Oslo and Stockholm plan to expand housing supply attainable to mid-income groups. In a second subproject, municipal requirements to include affordable housing in otherwise market-rate housing developments are investigated. The very different forms such requirements take in Denmark, Norway and Sweden are described and analyzed in relation to housing and planning systems. In the third sub-project, we analyse two shared ownership and two cooperative rental models from legal and economic perspectives to see to what extent, and subject to what risks, these intermediary tenures add to housing opportunities of lower and mid-income groups.
Laks og ligestilling/Salmon and equality
For most of the Nordic countries fisheries and aquaculture are important economic sectors. The blue fields of the seas in the Nordic Region are however a sector traditionally male-dominated and statistics on gender ratio and female presence reveal gender-segregated labour market. The Nordic partners observe this gender imbalance in the sector as problematic on many levels. This motivates the project Laks og ligestilling, in identifying the need to uncover reasons for what contributes to the gender imbalance. This project analyses what hinders or promotes improved gender balance in fisheries and aquaculture in the Nordic Region. The project aims to contribute to improved knowledge basis on equality questions in fisheries and aquaculture, and other new emerging blue economies across the Nordic countries. Parallelly it is to raise increased awareness of the need for more equal gender balance in the business and the recruitment of female skills. More specifically the project research output shall improve knowledge of which measures have proved effective in increasing gender equality within the sector. On the basis of the comparative analysis, we aim to build a knowledge basis for useful competence and exchange of experience. Lastly, the result from the comparative research will be presented in policy recommendations on measures likely to increase recruitment of women both as owners and practitioners in the sector. The project’s focus is to uncover active actions and measures that contribute to increased gender equality and more balanced representation of both males and females. Also to generate an overview of existing statistics on gender ration among employees and employers in the fisheries and aquaculture sector and to identify gaps across division of labour and strata within the sector. Project MilestonesM1: Statistical collection and harmonization of data to make comparative – Value Chain analysis for Blue Bioeconomy from gender perspective – and stakeholder…
Digital inclusion in action
This project will contribute to an inclusive digital transition in the Nordic-Baltic societies by promoting collaboration, dialogue, and knowledge sharing between practitioners and policymakers in the different countries and autonomous territories. The Nordic and Baltic societies are among the most advanced in Europe on digitalisation and they continually rank high on the European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). Digital literacy, digital skills and competences are all necessary to participate in the digital economy and society. With increased digitalisation, there is a risk that some groups lacking certain skills could be excluded, among these are elderly people, people with disabilities, persons with low or no education, young people between 15-25 as this group often struggle with communicating digitally with the public sector , immigrants that lack language skills, and people residing in rural areas. Digital exclusion can result in consequences such as people not having access to and receiving public services, lack of information about public services, social inequality, and social exclusion. Furthermore, COVID-19 has transformed the everyday lives of our citizens and businesses, increasing the importance of accessible, reliable, and usable digital public services. The project will develop a clear understanding of the key aspects that make up digital inclusion in the Nordic-Baltic region, including the potential effects of these aspects on different societal groups. The methods used will be both qualitative and quantitative such as data collection, literature review, surveys, case studies and interviews as well as seminars with networks of digitally vulnerable groups. An important part of this project is the close collaboration with a Nordic-Baltic reference group on digital inclusion, public agencies, civil society groups, and other research projects working with digital inclusion. Furthermore, the project will develop maps that can visualise the status on access and capability in the Nordic-Baltic region and publish…
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: Nordregio will lead the study in collaboration with Nordic Energy Research and the University of Akureyri between May 2022 and December 2024.
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.
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…
Service provision and access to services in Nordic rural areas – secure, trusted and for all ages
Nordic municipal and regional authorities play a central role in delivering key public services in areas, such as, health, education, and social care. Yet, public authorities have faced several challenges, including demographic change caused by an aging population and uneven population development, lack of access to labor force and adequate skills, long periods of austerity after the 2008 financial crisis, and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Public service delivery trends in the Nordics points to the increasing spatial concentration of physical services as well as the increase of web-based and digital solutions. Based in dialogue with the Nordic thematic group for Green and Inclusive Rural Development, which is a part of the Nordic Co-operation Programme for Regional Development and Planning, the objective of this project is to analyse how essential service needs for different types of societal groups and ruralities can be understood and defined, and how solutions to rural service provision challenges can be organized. It shall also address what role public policies play to ensure that adequate actions are in place for ensuring good rural public or co-created services. Finally, the project shall develop and share valuable input to policymakers and planners at national, regional, local, and cross-border level on safe, secure and trusted service delivery models and partnerships across different Nordic rural and sparsely populated communities. The project tasks are outlined as following: Step 1 of the project includes a desk study on what are essential future services for different societal groups in Nordic ruralities. The essential service needs will be compared with existing rural development policies, and perspectives from national and regional experts, to identify prioritisations and policy improvements. This will result in a report on essential services in the Nordic Region. Step 2 will map Nordic service provision, including methods and tools used for cooperation and involvement…
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.
ESPON Covid: Territorial impacts of Covid-19 and policy answers in European regions and cities
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented crisis of social, political and economic systems throughout Europe and the world. Since March 2020, European countries, regions and cities have taken diverse measures to try and contain the spread of the virus. These measures, while aiming at easing pressure on the health care systems, have had far-reaching impacts on many sectors of economic activity across the continent. Policymakers at all levels of governance require territorial evidence to be able to develop policy measures to cope with the immediate effects of the pandemic in the short-term and to manage its long-term impacts. This applied research activity sets out to contribute to the delivery of such territorial evidence by analysing the geographical patterns of the Covid-19 pandemic from its onset until as far as possible into 2021. The project also examines regional policy responses to Covid-19 and whether the pandemic has created a window of opportunity for regional authorities to take regional strategies and policies in new medium and long term directions in relation to the just transition, green transition and smart transition. The project will answer the following key research questions: What does the geographical pattern of the Covid-19 pandemic look like across European regions and cities and how has it evolved since the beginning of the pandemic? Are there specific territorial and/or socio-economic characteristics that can entail a higher risk of death/more severe course of disease and/or higher probabilities of negative socio-economic impacts? Which factors explain best the level of exposure of cities, regions and functional urban areas to the Covid-19 pandemic? How can different exposure levels in different types of territories be explained? To which degree have poverty, social inequalities and social exclusion been affected by the pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures? Can local wealth conditions, poverty or inequalities explain why territories are more or less affected…
Combatting long-term unemployment post-Covid – focusing on immigrants in the Nordic countries
As the Covid-19 pandemic slowly fades in the Nordic countries, many people, especially immigrants, are still unemployed. Most notably, the number of long-term unemployed (12 months or longer) men and women is increasing. Data shows that the probability to find a new job decreases the longer the unemployment period prevails. Unemployed immigrants are often in a more disadvantaged position than natives as they might have limited work experience in the host country and smaller professional networks. Women from outside Europe are also less likely than natives to have a higher education, which further reduces their job opportunities. Special attention and targeted support measures are therefore important to facilitate the labour market (re-)integration of immigrants on the Nordic labour markets. Project aims, goals and deliverables Overall, the project aims to build a more systematic knowledge base about immigrants’ experience of long-term unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Which groups are more affected than others, and which policies and measures are planned or implemented in the Nordic countries to speed up their labour market re-integration? The project will also facilitate Nordic knowledge exchange and knowledge building between key actors thereby ensuring Nordic added value. First, we will gather data on the number of long-term unemployed immigrants in the Nordic countries, and – if possible – consider gender, age, level of education, region of origin, and sector of previous employment. Second, in close cooperation with “Clearingcentralen” (www.integrationnorden.org) and their Nordic expert group on labour market integration of immigrants, the project will identify and discuss ongoing efforts in the Nordic countries and regions: highlight good examples, evaluated success factors, lessons learned, as well as planned measures for the near future. The project will be concluded in a concise and reader-friendly report showing the results of the quantitative analysis, and a description of…
Re:Urbia project focus on the state and development of suburban housing estates in Finland. The research project analyses multidimensional segregation processes in these suburban areas from the perspective of residential migration, schools and the attraction and holding power of suburbs, and re-conceptualises planning solutions and services in the suburbs. Nordregio’s participation in the project is related to providing up-to-date knowledge about the socio-economic state and development of suburban housing estates constructed during the 1960s and 1970s. The work package is based on updating and further extending the analysis of Finnish suburban housing estates based on Nordregio Senior Research Fellow Mats Stjernberg’s (2019) PhD research. This, together with surveys conducted in selected estates, will provide new knowledge about the development of these types of areas both in Finland overall as well as in the partner cities of the consortium (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Jyväskylä). Re:Urbia is part of Lähiöohjelma, funded by the Finnish Ministry of Environment for the years 2020–2022 for promoting positive development in suburbs. The project is led by the University of Helsinki, and also includes researchers from Aalto University as well as practitioners from the partner cities of the consortium.
Welfare Institutes in Sparsely Populated Areas (WIiSPA)
This project aims to define the concept and map already existing WIiSPAs in the Nordic countries and the autonomous territories of the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland. The concept WIiSPA (Welfare Institutes in Sparsely Populated Areas) has been used in some recent projects that strive for a stable and available welfare sector in sparsely populated areas of the Nordic Region. There are a few established WIiSPAs, such as Centre for Rural Medicine in Storuman and Norwegian Centre for Rural Medicine (NCRM) in Tromsø, there are also other ongoing initiatives in Akyreyri and other parts of the Nordic Region. Ideally, a WIiSPA should cover both health care and social care in an integrated manner, including home care services. In addition, by coordinating meetings and activities between the identified WIiSPAs and actors that are interested in developing a WIiSPA, this project tries to establish a Nordic network that drives development in health care and social care in the Nordics, with a special focus on sparsely populated areas, recruitment and competence supply, and the digital transformation of health care and health care services into a more integrated system. The long-term goal of this project is to promote an accessible, secure, and stable welfare in sparsely populated areas of the Nordics, which creates a basis for regional development, social sustainability, and a well-functioning labour market in these regions. In this project, Nordregio is responsible for defining the concept of WIiSPA and mapping already existing WIiSPAs and similar initiatives in the Nordic Region, including related research environments, academic actors, and national policies and goals. In addition, based on the results, Nordregio will support the Nordic Welfare Centre in its activities to develop an action plan for collaboration and networking between the Nordic WIiSPAs and actors that are interested in developing a WIiSPA.
Waste Management in High North – new cross-border business opportunities (WANO)
WANO is a four-year project that studies cross-border business and innovation opportunities in the waste management sector in the Barents Region and High North. The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway. Waste management in the northern latitudes is often more challenging than in the more central regions. Under the Arctic climate conditions with large distances between settlements and to the recycling facilities, and relatively smaller markets and volume of produced waste, there are special needs for developing new innovative solutions for waste management. The main objective of WANO is to examine conditions for creating cross-border business opportunities in the High North through the study of waste management systems. WANO develops an analytical framework to study cross-border business and innovation cooperation in the field of waste management (municipal and industrial waste) in the neighboring cross-border regions of Troms & Finnmark and Nordland (Norway), North Ostrobothnia (Finland) and Norrbotten (Sweden). Collected data will be compared and set into relation with Nordic benchmarking, including the cases from Finland and Sweden.
Integrating immigrants into the Nordic labour market – The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic
Nordic countries have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has taken a substantial toll on economic growth and employment level. Immigrants may have been disproportionately affected, even though Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden already face serious challenges in integrating immigrants into their labour markets for several years. This project aims to make a contribution to further research into the consequences of the pandemic. Current data and statistics on unemployment trends in the Nordic countries shall be presented in order to obtain a comprehensive overview of the current labour market situation of immigrants. The project shall revisit and update the main findings, conclusions and policy recommendations of the 2019 report ‘Integrating immigrants into the Nordic labour markets’ in the light of the pandemic. Target groups The target group of the project includes national, regional and municipal authorities who are involved in integrating immigrants into the Nordic labour market. The recommendations on how to support labour market integration during the pandemic and going forward may also be relevant for civil society organisations, employers’ organisations, chambers of commerce and other actors in the Nordic region and beyond who are working with refugees and other immigrant groups.
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.
En bättre sits – evaluation
The project aims to evaluate and shed light on the latest period in the transport policy process En bättre sits. En bättre sits is a transport policy process administered by Mälardalsrådet, to influence the infrastructure planning and investments in the region to further regional development. Nordregio is commissioned to conduct an evaluations study focusing on a timeframe between May 2018- May 2020. The study aims: To shed light on the collaboration En bättre sits and describe the process and effects of the strengthened collaboration between actors involved. Place the process within the research context about governance models in regional development and planning Analyse what has worked well and less well, in order to show opportunities for improvement in the internal governance processes and further development in En bättre sits. Highlight the process En bättre sits as a relevant/good example for international co-operation and contribute to the dialogue on how to develop governance models in regional development. The last process period of En Bättre sits includes eight regions and municipalities in the regions as well as several other public and private actors.