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A guide to collaborative mobility solutions in rural areas

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

Mobility for all in rural areas – Inspiring solutions from MAMBA

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

Maximising mobility and access to services in rural areas

Demographic change and limited public funding in remote rural areas threaten the accessibility of goods and social services in many countries in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). The MAMBA project aims to meet this challenge by promoting sustainable “people-to-service” and “service-to-people” solutions in rural areas. These guidelines seek to provide feasible policy recommendations for national, regional and localgovernment bodies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and transport service providers.They offer insights into overcoming legal, financial and governance obstacles to rural transportsolutions, and aim to improve and maximise both mobility and access to services in rural regions. They are based on what has been learned during the three-year project in the nine regions involved, which have tested pilot schemes and established mobility centres. The pilot actions were part of the MAMBA project co-funded by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme and included legislative, economic and social analyses.The main recommendations for maximising mobility and access to services in rural areas are: Develop long-term mobility planning tools Improve social inclusion and access to services Try out innovative solutions using smaller vehicles Support grassroots initiatives Combine trips to save resources Establish conditions that guarantee mobility Make mobility-related procurement easier inrural areas Take risks and come up with innovative solutions Go digital. MAMBAThis document is the official output O5.4 of MAMBA (Maximising Mobility and Accessibility of Services in Regions Affected by Demographic Change). MAMBA is a transnational cooperation project part-funded by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund under the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme 2014–2020). The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union, the Managing Authority or the Joint Secretariat of the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme 2014–2020. About this guidance document:These guidelines are based on the pilot…

Demographic change and labour market challenges in regions with large-scale resource-based industries in the Northern Periphery and Arctic

Low population density, low accessibility, low economic diversification and abundant natural resources are common characteristics of Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) areas. At the same time, ageing populations and the emigration of young people are key challenges facing many communities. The REGINA1) project provides local and regional practitioners with a deeper understanding of demographic and labour market trends and challenges in NPA regions in Finland, Greenland, Norway, Scotland and Sweden. Alongside social impact management and increasing local benefits associated with large-scale natural resource industries, ‘demography and labour markets’ form one of the three strategic planning pillars of the Local Smart Specialisation (LS3) concept, as developed in the REGINA project. This report describes this pillar from a planning and policy perspective. In Section One, the essential concepts and issues related to demography and labour markets are introduced, followed by an analysis of the current demographic and labour market situation in the communities participating in the REGINA project in Section Two. Sections Three and Four offer tools and approaches to help practitioners further understand the local demographic and labour market situation in their communities to support evidence-based policymaking. They describe examples of policies to improve demographic trends and labour market conditions that have been applied in other NPA communities and regions.

Local and regional experiences of remote work and multilocality

This report is the second outcome of the project Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024. Its primary aim is to provide a deeper understanding of how the spatial trends associated with increased remote work are affecting Nordic municipalities and regions. It explores the usefulness and reliability of available statistical data for understanding the effects of increased remote work at the regional and local level. Further, it draws directly on the experiences of regional and local stakeholders to understand the effects, challenges and opportunities, and planning responses associated with increased remote work.    Overall, this report supports the central finding of the first – that there is great potential for Nordic cooperation in developing strategies to address the challenges and make the most of the opportunities associated with increased remote work for Nordic regions and municipalities. For national policymakers, understanding the nature of the changes that have occurred since the pandemic, and the degree to which these changes relate to increased remote work, is a real challenge. At the local and regional level, the nature of the challenges and opportunities experienced appears to be fairly similar between the countries. Collaboration at both levels could be incredibly valuable in strengthening both national and local efforts to make the most of the opportunities increased remote work offers for Nordic people, places, and planning in the long term. The project Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024 was commissioned by stakeholders from the Nordic Co-operation Programme for Regional Development and Planning 2021-2024. This report received additional support from the Finnish Chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers under the direction of the Nordic Ministers for Regional Development.

Discussion paper on ‘The Systems Perspectives on Green Innovation’

The newly published TGC Discussion paper A conceptual review on the systems perspectives on green innovation deals with the theoretical foundations and empirical approaches for studying green innovation. This discussion paper is meant as an open invitation to discuss methodological approaches and the implications of the green transition for innovation policy. We welcome comments and suggestions with any new perspectives! The discussion paper is written as part of the Systems perspectives on Green Innovation (GRINGO) project, conducted by Nordregio within the work programme of the Nordic Thematic Group for Green, Innovative and Resilient Regions 2021-2024. GRINGO aims at uncovering existing bottlenecks to innovation that may impede change and the green transition, from a systemic perspective. To do this, the project investigates the link between agency (the role of different actors) and innovation. The discussion paper is the outcome of the first phase of GRINGO, which explored key concepts, their application, and their theoretical and policy traditions. It conceptualizes the terms ‘systems’, ‘innovation’ and ‘green’ and reviews them in the context of the ‘green transition’. The paper provides an overview of how the academic debate has developed around the drivers of innovation, from the old structure-agency discourse to the relevance of systems, place, and purpose. Furthermore, the paper elaborates on how innovation policy has been framed and changed over time based on that evolving understanding on innovation. Finally, the current policy climate surrounding green transitions, is discussed, which has risen expectations on the potential of innovation policy in addressing the complex societal and environmental challenges of today. The second phase of the GRINGO project will focus on empirical case study work on selected sectors in the Nordic countries. The results of this work will be available during 2023. We welcome comments and suggestions with any new perspectives!

Just Green Transition – key concepts and implications in the Nordic Region

This discussion paper is based on a literature review of the just green transition in a Nordic, European and OECD setting, via the lens of three interrelated dimensions within this concept: transition, green economy and social justice. Like all countries around the world, the Nordic countries are facing climate change and the transition towards a more sustainable future.  All Nordic countries and self-governing territories are in the process of implementing national, regional and local strategies and policies aimed at mitigating climate change and its effects on society. The transition to a more sustainable future has implications for the economy, for example different economic sectors and their composition and how we interact with and govern natural resources and biodiversity. This process is often referred to as the green transition. One key component of the green transition is how it can unfold in a just way that protects communities, territories and specific social groups from the potential negative consequences of such policies – or enables their involvement in or empowerment by such processes. The discussion paper starts by outlining the aim and the guiding questions. There then follows a section presenting the research methods and sources of material. Section 4 presents a review of the concepts transition, green economy and social justice, along with an overview of the overarching concept of the just green transition. This is followed by a discussion of its key implications in the Nordic Region. The section concludes with proposals for working definitions of concepts for the NJUST project.

Discussion paper on Digitalisation of Food Systems

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

Welfare institutes in sparsely populated areas

This working paper is a part of Welfare institutes in sparsely populated areas (WIiSPA) project. The overall purpose of it is to clarify and determine the definition of WIiSPA and identify WIiSPA actors in sparsely populated areas (SPAs) in the Nordic Region and beyond. Underpinning the concept of WIiSPA is the belief that the stable provision of health and social care services is crucial for regional development. In other words, a well-functioning welfare sector with effective and accessible services is a prerequisite for regional growth across different sectors in SPAs. Another important objective is to promote the development and revitalisation of welfare services in rural areas through networking and knowledge-sharing with other WIiSPA actors across the Nordic Region. Since SPAs in the Nordic countries often face similar challenges, this pan-Nordic WIiSPA network would facilitate the implementation of results and recommendations based on Nordic welfare and regional development projects. WIiSPAs would benefit from the experiences of projects like iHAC/iVOPD, which in turn would contribute to the development of health care and social care services in SPAs of the Nordic Region – with a focus on distance spanning solutions, integration of health and social care services, and recruitment and skills supply. This working paper aims to shed light on the following project objectives: What components, stakeholders, and visions could constitute a WIiSPA; what elements are necessary for creating a WIiSPA? (Definition of WIiSPA) Identifying existing and potential WIiSPA clusters in the Nordic countries and beyond; their prerequisites, strengths, and eventual lack of components for creating a WIiSPA (Mapping of WIiSPA) How could a network of identified WIiSPA clusters best be developed? (WIiSPA network) The results of this working paper are based on academic research, short interviews, and roundtable discussions. The material includes academic articles, information from websites and notes from discussions with local stakeholders. The concept…

Active and healthy ageing: Heterogenous perspectives and Nordic indicators

The aim of this report is to emphasise why there is a need for a more heterogenous perspective on active and healthy ageing. A range of relevant indicators exist at the European and national levels, but comparable data across the Nordic countries remain limited. By considering key concepts and available common Nordic indicators, this report provides outlooks on active and healthy ageing among diverse senior populations and explores the possible contribution of intersectional approaches in future analysis and policy-making across the Nordic region. This report focuses on heterogenous perspectives regarding active and healthy ageing. There are many phases of old adulthood, and the older Nordic population is far from homogeneous. An individual’s lifelong health depends on numerous factors such as income, educational level, physical activity, dietary habits, sexual preferences, ethnicity, family situation, and living and housing arrangements. How these aspects intersect creates different challenges and possibilities for active and healthy ageing. This report explores the possible contribution of intersectional approaches in future analyses and policy-making across the Nordic region. The report is part of the Nordic Welfare Centre’s project Age-friendly and sustainable societies in the Nordic region. The study was conducted in parallel with the report Indicators for Active and Healthy Ageing in the Nordic Region. Possibilities and Challenges.  The main outputs are two research reports. This one is titled Active and Healthy Ageing: Heterogeneous perspective and Nordic indicators and another one is Indicators for Active and Healthy Ageing in the Nordic Region: possibilities and challenges. Both of them were presented at Nordregio´s and Nordic Welfare Centre´s launch webinar “Grasping the diversity among older adults” on 6 April 2022.

The missing multiplier

How to use public procurement for more sustainable municipalities This policy brief is based on the final installment of Nordregio’s three Localising Agenda 2030 webinars held in March 2022. It aims to highlight the lessons learned from front-runner municipalities, as well as inspire local and national decision-makers to invest in and build capacity for sustainable procurement processes. The Nordic countries enjoy high standards of living, but they also stand out in global rankings as over-consumers of natural resources with major challenges to realising SDG 12 – Sustainable consumption and production. With several billions spent on public procurement each year in the Nordic countries, procurement is a powerful tool to leverage sustainability at a large scale.  This is also reflected in a report from the Nordic Council of Ministers (2021) where public procurement is referred to as ‘the missing multiplier’, emphasizing that public procurement can impact all 17 SDGs while addressing 82 percent of the targets. In this webinar, the municipalities of Gladsaxe, Denmark, and Vantaa, Finland, shared how they have altered local procurement processes to align with sustainability goals. Together with panellists from the National Agency for Public Procurement in Sweden, the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) in Norway, and KEINO in Finland, the discussion addressed how other municipalities can use public procurement to strengthen sustainability practices and SDG mainstreaming across the Nordic Region.  

What’s in a voluntary local review? 

Developing meaningful indicators to measure local Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) progress in the Nordics This policy brief is based on the second of three webinars on Localising Agenda 2030 in the Nordics. It aims to highlight the shared experiences between Nordic municipalities and inspire local and national decision-makers to invest in and build capacity for measuring and reporting on SDG localisation. Establishing meaningful indicators that correspond with local sustainability strategies towards 2030 requires considerable technical and operational resources on the part of Nordic municipalities. Therefore, implementing SDGs at the local level, in addition to determining how to report on SDG progress, remains a challenge. Nevertheless, several places across the Nordic Region have come a long way since localising efforts began after Agenda 2030 was launched by the UN in 2015. In recent years, there has been momentum around Voluntary Local Reviews (see Box 1). These reports have proven valuable as a holistic process and documentation to track SDG progress and governance.  During the webinar session, the cities of Espoo, Finland, and Helsingborg, Sweden, offered their best practices on developing and applying local indicator sets and shared how they went about conducting their respective VLRs. Panel experts from the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS) and the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities (Samband) also joined the discussion. The challenges of developing comprehensive methodologies suited to the local context, working across departments, and coordinating with fellow Nordic municipalities to report on common targets were among the topics addressed during the session. 

Steering towards a sustainable future  

How to integrate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and navigate goal conflicts at the local level This policy brief is based on the first of Nordregio’s three Localising Agenda 2030 webinars in 2022. It aims to highlight the shared experiences between Nordic municipalities and inspire local officials and decision-makers to invest in adaptive leadership and smart steering tools. Nordic front-runner municipalities in SDG achievement often have two things in common: committed leadership and a holistic steering process encompassing the Agenda 2030 framework. With 8 years remaining, the integration of the SDGs into local strategies will require leadership willing to revise budgeting systems, alter ways of working, transform conflicting interests into synergies, and serve the needs of the local community. Steering tools are an important foundation in many Nordic municipalities to govern sustainable development in a systematic way. Without them, efforts to address pressing social, economic, and environmental issues can be futile or, a minimum, difficult to monitor.   During the webinar, municipal leaders from Finspång, Sweden, and Kristiansund, Norway, presented their tested tools and learnings, followed by a panel discussion with Kópavogur, Iceland, and Espoo, Finland, addressing several questions: How is sustainability work organised within the municipalities to achieve genuine progress? How do mayors and officials collaborate to build commitment and momentum around Agenda 2030 in all departments? Which are the main barriers and success factors to efficiently integrate the SDGs into local planning and budgeting tools – and turn goal conflicts into synergies?  

Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024 

This report is the first outcome of the project Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024. This report provides a broad understanding of the current situation (May, 2022) regarding remote work in the Nordic countries, particularly in relation to potential urban and regional development effects. It provides insight into emerging trends in the countries based on Nordic research, statistical data, and stakeholder interviews. Further, it considers the national level policy frameworks that “set the stage” for the development of remote work practices in the Nordic countries. Our findings suggest that higher levels of remote work are likely to be maintained in the long term in all Nordic countries, at least to some degree. Importantly, however, there is little evidence to support a large-scale shift towards a “remote first” mindset among Nordic workers or workplaces. This means that, for the majority of workers and workplaces, the most likely scenario will be some form of hybrid arrangement. The effectiveness of these arrangements in promoting wellbeing and quality of life for workers, as well as the extent to which collaboration and innovation thrive under hybrid conditions, will both be key factors in determining whether remote work remains more common in the long term. From a spatial perspective, the patterns of migration, mobility and multilocality observed in the Nordic countries during the pandemic support the idea that increased remote work will have implications for planners in Nordic cities, regions, and rural areas. Daily commuting became less common and internal migration patterns suggest that this has been accompanied by a willingness to travel further. Some rural municipalities also appear to have become more desirable. This is evidenced by the slowing, or even reversal, of trends towards population decline and also by increased demand for and use of second homes. If these trends continue, they…

Selvforsyning af fødevarer i fem nordiske øsamfund

How can increased self-sufficiency contribute to more sustainable and resilient food systems? This report – in Scandinavian – dives into this question and presents case studies from five Nordic island communities. Hvordan kan en øget selvforsyning af fødevarer bidrage til at skabe mere bæredygtige og resiliente fødevaresystemer? Det spørgsmål har Nordregio, Norsk institutt for bioøkonomi (NIBIO) og Búnaðarstovan på Færøerne undersøgt i projektet “Selvforsyning af fødevarer i nordiske øsamfund” i de fem nordiske øsamfund Bornholm, Færøerne, Grønland, Island og Åland. Formålet med dette projekt har været at øge indsigten i, hvorvidt og hvordan en højere grad af selvforsyning med fødevarer kan bidrage til mere bæredygtige og resiliente fødevaresystemer i de fem nordiske øsamfund Bornholm, Færøerne, Grønland, Island og Åland. Til dette formål har vi udregnet selvforsyningsgrad og dækningsgrad med fødevarer for hvert af de fem samfund baseret på tilgængelige data, kortlagt arbejdet med selvforsyning og lokale fødevaresystemer, samt beskrevet udfordringerne og mulighederne som lokale aktører fremhæver ved at øge selvforsyningsgraden. En række gode eksempler fra de forskellige øsamfund er indsamlet og beskrevet til inspiration. De anvendte metoder er indsamling af data over produktion, forbrug, eksport og import af fødevarer. Interviews og fokusgrupper med lokale aktører i de fem øsamfund og skrivebordsanalyse af fødevare- og landbrugsstrategier, politiske dokumenter og rapporter om de lokale fødevaresystemer. Projektet er udført i samarbejde mellem Nordregio, Norsk institutt for bioøkonomi (NIBIO) og Búnaðarstovan (Landbrugsstyrelsen på Færøerne) i perioden juni 2021 til februar 2022. Se webinaret (optagelse): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gm_qB4vPbtA