Remote Work in Smaller Towns: Possibilities and uncertainties
Has remote work post-pandemic expanded the influence of Nordic capitals on surrounding towns? Through case studies in five Nordic towns, the report focused on how remote work opportunities influence small-town attractiveness, population retention, and planning strategies. It explores the effects on populations, urban-rural landscapes, and planning needs. The findings reveal a shift in population dynamics, with people moving from capitals to smaller towns, leveraging remote work’s flexibility. This shift presents opportunities and challenges for regional development, highlighting the need for further research to navigate the complexities of remote work’s long-term implications. Despite remote work becoming common, the study found little proof that remote work opportunities have made these towns more attractive. Remote or hybrid work can attract new populations and highly qualified personnel, enhancing towns’ attractiveness without necessarily increasing the population. Ongoing research is needed to fully understand remote work’s potential and inform policy and planning to attract new residents and visitors.
Remote Work in Rural Areas: Possibilities and uncertainties
This study investigates the role of remote work in enhancing the resilience of rural and remote municipalities in the Nordic countries, highlighting the shift towards hybrid work models. The report presents six case studies, each detailing the context, challenges and opportunities associated with remote work. The study found that many public authorities lack formal remote work policies, relying on pre-existing or pandemic-developed frameworks aimed at work-life balance. The research points to remote work’s potential for attracting and retaining residents and skilled workers, crucial for rural development, despite challenges like the need for improved digital infrastructure and the absence of formal policies. Initiatives like co-working spaces and the focus on enhancing regional attractiveness through quality of life and infrastructure investments are seen as key to leveraging remote work for sustainable regional development. However, the study also notes obstacles such as legislative issues and the need for comprehensive strategies to fully realise the benefits of remote work for rural revitalisation. Remote work offers a pathway to sustainable development in Nordic regions by introducing new skills, enhancing business innovation, and improving public services, which helps combat out-migration and boosts quality of life. For maximum impact, investments in digital infrastructure, supportive work environments, and regional attractiveness are crucial, paving the way for a more vibrant and sustainable future.
WANO policy brief
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. WANO focuses on cross-border business and innovation cooperation in the field of waste management, including municipal and industrial waste, in the regions of Troms, Finnmark and Nordland (Norway), Lapland and North Ostrobothnia (Finland) and Norrbotten (Sweden). The project identifies key actors, technologies, innovation trends, and cross-border collaboration possibilities in the Arctic waste sector. Among the lessons learned so far which are highlighted in this policy brief are that waste management in Norway has already taken important steps to promote innovation and cooperation but that there is a demand for additional knowledge-based expertise among the waste management actors in north Norway. Cross-border initiatives are welcomed in north Norway by the actors. The big hindrance seems to be “know-who”: the Norwegian actors need more information about the actors across the border in north Finland and north Sweden.
Fragile communities finding strength from the inside
Discover Dalir, Iceland, where co-creation has breathed new life into the community focusing on involving diverse social groups. This storymap highlights the Fragile Communities project in Búðardalur, a small town in Dalir, Iceland. The project aimed to prevent the decline of remote municipalities through community empowerment and tourism development. It encourages local participation in addressing issues like housing and infrastructure, and seeks to improve local well-being and identity through workshops, grants, and cooperative projects. It also details Dalir’s unique approach to adapting to population decline and the importance of community mobilization and identity rediscovery.
Ensuring Gender Equality in Nordic Blue Economy
For most of the Nordic countries, fisheries and aquaculture are important economic sectors. Their labour markets are however male-dominated, and strongly gender-segregated. This report serves as a critical resource for understanding the current state of gender equality in the maritime sector. It offers actionable recommendations for policymakers, industry leaders, and educational institutions to promote gender equality and harness the potential and value of women in this field.
Monitoring Digital Inclusion in the Nordic and Baltic Region
This discussion paper defines digital inclusion, exploring whether it is a process or state, its focus on services or users, and its role as a human right or service. It identifies key barriers to digital inclusion such as access (internet connectivity, device availability) and capability (digital literacy, language issues). These barriers particularly affect demographic groups like the elderly, disabled, less educated, rural residents, and immigrants. The paper is a part of the “Digital Inclusion in Action” project, examines digital inclusion in the Nordic-Baltic region, aligning with the EU’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). Authored by the Digital Europe consortium, its goal is to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing among practitioners and policymakers. The paper suggests two main strategies for enhancing digital inclusion monitoring. Initially, it advocates for increased cooperation among Nordic-Baltic countries to standardize monitoring practices and facilitate knowledge sharing. In the longer term, it recommends aligning more closely with the EU’s DESI framework to integrate digital inclusion monitoring and benefit from a broader knowledge base for benchmarking and learning.
National Digital Inclusion Initiatives in the Nordic and Baltic Countries
This study assesses digital inclusion policies in the Nordic and Baltic regions, focusing on how digital inclusion is defined and monitored. Covering policies published after December 2021 and considering earlier ones that are still in effect, it found 33 strategies, with 19 new ones. Despite the increased focus, a unified definition of digital inclusion across these regions is absent. The study notes similarities in understanding digital inclusion, yet distinct national challenges highlight the need for context-specific approaches. Monitoring digital inclusion remains fragmented, lacking standard criteria. The study suggests a more coordinated approach to enhance digital inclusion strategies. While countries like Sweden and Denmark initiate structured monitoring, the overall approach to digital inclusion varies, reflecting diverse national challenges but also offering opportunities for collaborative learning and policy development.
Urban Agriculture for a Resilient Future
This final report from the project FutureUA presents seven urban agriculture initiatives that tell stories about how different actors have engaged with or support the practice of growing food in cities. In the report, we discuss the future of urban agriculture across different themes, namely (1) cultivating change in connection with innovation and legislation, (2) cultivating community in connection with culture, and (3) cultivating knowledge in connection with education and science.
Between hand-outs and stand-outs: Opportunities for policy support for just green transitions
This policy brief addresses the challenges and opportunities of the green transition in Nordic rural areas, emphasizing the need for more fair approaches. It underscores the significance of involving local communities in renewable energy projects. The urgency of climate change, economic shifts, and recent energy crises has highlighted the need for the green transition, with a particular focus on Nordic rural areas playing a key role in developing renewable energy. However, there’s concern that this transition might increase existing differences between urban and rural areas. Evidence suggests that people in rural regions feel they might be neglected, which could put fair green transitions and the achievement of climate goals at risk. The policy brief from the Just Green Transition in Rural Areas project emphasises the need to involve local communities in green projects to encourage a sense of ownership and fairness. It calls for early community involvement, clear communication, inclusive compensation strategies, recognition of non-monetary benefits, and using the flexibility of rural municipalities to their advantage. As Nordic rural areas face multiple changes, collaboration across different sectors is vital to ensure fairness and effectiveness in green initiatives, potentially making rural areas pioneers rather than followers in the transition. The policy brief is based on the case study report “Can local value creation induce a sense of justice during green transitions? A study of six rural areas in Denmark, Finland, and Norway.”
Employers’ perspectives on hiring immigrants – Experiences from the Nordic countries
This report dives into the perspectives of Nordic employers on hiring low-skilled immigrants. Its objective is to uncover both opportunities and challenges faced by employers and to explore potential solutions for a more inclusive recruitment. The Nordic Region faces significant challenges in labour market participation, with a notable gap between native-born individuals and migrants, particularly affecting women, those with lower education levels, and non-EU citizens. Paradoxically, the region is at the same time grappling with severe labour shortages across various sectors. This report was produced in close collaboration with the Nordic Welfare Centre as part of the Nordic Programme for Integration of Immigrants. It aims to inspire Nordic employers, staffing companies, and public-sector and civil society organizations to collaborate on creating inclusive solutions for the labour market. Existing research predominantly focuses on individual-level obstacles faced by migrants, such as limited language skills, low education, and a lack of work experience in the host country. This study seeks to shift the spotlight onto the role and responsibility of employers in fostering the successful integration of immigrants into the labour markets. Employers participating in this study express a belief that the long-term benefits of hiring immigrants outweigh the initial challenges. However, obstacles exist, ranging from structural and organizational barriers to individual challenges like language proficiency. Success is attributed to diversity management, committed leadership and collaboration with public-sector entities and third-sector actors. The literature review and interviews reveal that employers are driven by the need to address labour shortages, especially in sectors like healthcare and hospitality. The benefits of hiring immigrants include a diverse workforce, improved productivity, and positive community impact. The findings in this report underscore the commitment of many employers to instigate positive change. Their motivations extend beyond mere workforce gap filling, reflecting a desire to contribute positively to the local…
Green and healthy Nordic cities: How to plan, design, and manage health-promoting urban green space
This handbook is the culmination of the NORDGREEN project, which develops and implements smart planning and management solutions for well-designed, high-quality green spaces that promote health and well-being. Researchers and practitioners worked alongside one another in six Nordic cities, and the handbook provides practitioners with a TOOLBOX of adaptable methods, models, and guidelines for delivering health-promoting green spaces to consider in their own contexts.
Kan bogemenskaper bli en möjlighet för fler? – Vilka möjligheter och hinder finns i den vetenskapliga litteraturen?
Denna policy brief är baserad på ”Hur kan förutsättningarna för att fler ska kunna bo i socialt hållbara bogemenskaper förbättras?" Rekommendationerna i policy briefen utgår från resultaten av litteraturstudien och de potentiella lösningar som framhålls i dem.
Hur kan förutsättningarna för att fler ska kunna bo i socialt hållbara bogemenskaper förbättras?
Denna studie undersöker möjligheten att utveckla bogemenskaper till en ekonomiskt mer åtkomlig och socialt inkluderande boendeform för en bredare del av befolkningen i Sverige. Syftet är att bidra med ökad kunskap om hur de svenska förutsättningarna för att fler ska kunna bo i socialt hållbara bogemenskaper kan förbättras.
Championing sustainable construction using timber in the Baltic Sea Region
Timber construction can radically cut carbon emissions. The construction sector is accountable for c. 40% of global emissions, a third of which comes from the production of building materials. Replacing concrete and steel with timber offers a huge opportunity to reach the carbon neutrality goals – so what is stopping us? In this policy brief, we uncover bottlenecks in timber construction in relation to technology, public sector and institutional innovation, cultural shifts, and systemic phenomena. Nordic and Baltic countries have a unique advantage in leading the way, given the vast forest resources available, a long legacy of the forestry industry and wood building, the in-built industrial capacity, and the well-functioning and interlinked supply chains across the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). Yet, decisive policy measures are needed to overcome technical, regulatory, and cultural obstacles. Challenging the status quo and creating a market shift demands holistic and collaborative approaches that can enable systemic change, as well as targeted measures to navigate through country-specific obstacles. This policy brief is based on the results of two projects: 1) Systems perspectives on Green Innovation (GRINGO) a research study conducted within the Nordic Thematic Group for Green, Innovative and Resilient Regions 2021-2024 and funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers; and 2) BSRWood project funded by the Swedish Institute to enhance collaboration and knowledge transfer across the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). In addition to desk study, interviews, workshops, and study tours with many experts from different organisations and countries served to collect multiple perspectives for how to address the bottlenecks in timber construction.
Nordic cycling policy: National objectives, mechanisms, and actors in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden
This paper reviews how Nordic countries are working to improve cycling via policy and planning. It takes a national-level approach to review cycling objectives, mechanisms and key actors in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden.
Rooting for the Rural: Changing narratives and creating opportunities for Nordic rural youth
This policy brief delves into the importance of understanding and supporting the priorities of young people in Nordic rural regions to ensure these communities thrive. It highlights the importance of addressing challenges that keep youth from staying in rural areas and engaging with those unsure about their future there. Serving as a comprehensive guide for policymakers, the policy brief contextualises the report from the Nordic rural youth panel “From Fields to Futures: 40 action points for rural revitalisation”. The brief examines academic discussions, prevalent narratives, and youth engagement efforts, emphasising the Nordic Rural Youth Panel’s 40 proposed actions to revitalise rural areas. The paper investigates what young people need and want, their aspirations and ideas, and the solutions they present to policymakers that could attract them back to rural areas. It also explores ways to create and enhance opportunities for rural youth to realise their potential and contribute significantly to their communities, thereby changing the existing narratives about young people in rural areas. Lastly, the policy brief stresses the importance of considering diverse youth perspectives in policymaking to promote inclusive and sustainable rural development in alignment with the Nordic Vision.
Gen Z Agency: Mobilising young people to strengthen Nordic rural areas – What we did and how we did it
This discussion paper outlines the project Gen Z Agency: Mobilising young people to strengthen Nordic rural areas, highlighting what we did and how we did it when engaging young people to tell us what policy and decision-makers need to do to revitalise Nordic rural areas. The discussion paper emphasizes the significance of understanding the priorities of young people in Nordic rural regions to shape thriving communities. Individuals in their twenties and thirties play a crucial role in the future development of the Nordic region, facing decisions about careers and settlement. The project, “Gen Z Agency,” places young people at its core, aiming to gather their aspirations and solutions for revitalizing rural areas. The Nordic Region’s vision for 2030 focuses on sustainability, integration, and making it the best place for young people. Recognizing youth as rights-holders, the project aligns with the Nordic vision to improve well-being and enable youth to be heard. Youth involvement is crucial for sustainable and inclusive regional development, especially in rural areas facing challenges like an aging population and youth migration. The paper stresses the importance of understanding diverse experiences and perspectives among young people in addressing these challenges. The voices and engagement of young people are central for strengthening Nordic rural areas and promoting their well-being. The project seeks to uncover what is needed for young people to envision a future in rural areas, exploring solutions and enablers for them to live and work there. In pursuing social and environmental sustainability, the active involvement of young people in policy formulation is essential.
Visualizing Future Migration Scenarios for Europe
The FUME project investigated how migration has shaped Amsterdam, Rome, Copenhagen, and Krakow, using data to understand segregation patterns. The findings indicate that despite variations in size, foreign population structure, and migration history, residential segregation, measured using grid cell level data, is surprisingly similar in three cities – Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Rome. However, Krakow stands out as an exception due to its recent immigrant influx and a smaller migrant population. Even in Krakow, there’s a noticeable downward trend in the dissimilarity index, reflecting a more even allocation of migrants across the city. The storymap includes population estimates and projections by foreign status for cities, which allows decision-makers to use the data in a very flexible way. To achieve this, cutting-edge methods were used such as machine learning and the most available spatially detailed data that is available is collected. The harmonized set of historical data and results of multi-scenario demographic projections allows researchers to study not only past spatial distribution, but also possible futures of spatial processes in cities under different national and regional scenarios; not only those related to population and migration (e.g., changes in the size and structure of mobility flows), but also scenarios of urban development (e.g., investments in infrastructure, housing, transport).
From Fields to Futures: 40 action points for rural revitalisation
The Nordic Rural Youth Panel has synthesized a report outlining 40 actionable recommendations for making rural areas in the Nordic region more attractive for young people. The recommendations address the ongoing trend of young people moving to cities, highlighting the need for better public transportation, various housing options, and education that connects to local job markets in rural areas. The panel wants to change the common view that success and a good life can only be found in cities, and highlight the potential and vibrancy of rural areas. The report expands on several key areas: Developed with input from 25 young people across the whole Nordic region, the panel’s recommendations serve as a guide for creating appealing, dynamic, and sustainable rural communities, ensuring young people are at the centre of these efforts.