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366 Publications

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.

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…

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.

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).