Nordregio carries out research on rural development from a social science perspective considering the different aspects of sustainability for rural, remote, and sparsely populated regions across the Nordic countries.

We contribute to knowledge building and rural development policies in different ways. Firstly, we carry out comparative research on socio-economic and environmental issues through both quantitative analyses and qualitative studies. Secondly, we analyse the challenges and opportunities associated with the diversity of rural areas, which helps build the knowledge base on rural issues by highlighting good practices, making policy recommendations, and fostering collaboration across sectors. Nordregio’s research in rural development for the upcoming 2021-2024 period will provide answers to the present challenges and potential areas of development with rural areas. This research will focus on large societal transformations related to the wellbeing of people, economic opportunities for businesses, development of skills and the functioning of labour markets, integration of newcomers, and the overall quality of life and sustainability of rural communities.

The future opportunities of rural areas are connected to value creation in diversified economies, the utilisation of the abundance of natural resources, and the development of human and institutional knowledge about the management of a just and green transition, benefitting local communities and regions and contributing local solutions to mitigate climate change. Further, there are still challenges connected to regional social and economic imbalances between urban and rural areas in terms of population growth and access to jobs and services. Achieving a socially just and green transition is also of primary importance for the future of rural areas.  Finally, our research contributes to ensuring social sustainability through the inclusion of groups with different cultures, gender, age, or education within local communities