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38 Ongoing Projects

Robust Regional Preparedness

Regional policy or policies for municipalities can play a key role in enhancing civil preparedness. They are part of implementing efficient solutions for sustainable green transitions, as well as ensuring the provision of food, raw materials, energy, and access to services to citizens, both in stable times and during crises. This project explores how regional policy can best contribute to ensuring civil preparedness and resilience in the Nordic regions. To achieve robust and resilient Nordic regions, structured collaboration between national authorities, regions, municipalities, businesses, and civil society is needed. Cooperation across local, regional – and sometimes also national – borders is essential to ensure security and good living conditions in Nordic cities, towns and sparsely populated rural areas. Analysing and understanding how Nordic countries address civil preparedness within subnational policies can also foster Nordic learning. The project aims to investigate how Nordic regional policy can best contribute to ensuring civil preparedness and robustness in Nordic regions during crisis periods. It will focus especially on policies and good practices addressing food security, energy provision, raw materials, and access to public services. As the regional policies and governance structures in the Nordic countries differ regarding roles and responsibilities, the study will also explore interactions between different governance levels and stakeholders in the managing crisis preparedness. Structured around three key stages, the project will: The findings and insights from the project will be summarised in a policy brief and a collection of local and regional good practices to enhance civil preparedness and resilience across the Nordic regions.

ILLUQ – The impacts of permafrost thaw in the Arctic

ILLUQ is the Inuvialuktun word for partner and cuts to the heart of this interdisciplinary project. Through a wide partnership it provides an holistic assessment of the impacts of permafrost thaw on the health of humans, animals and ecosystems. Accelerating permafrost thaw in the Arctic drastically changes the ecosystem as a whole, which, in turn, impacts the everyday life of local communities and Indigenous populations. Yet many of the phenomena reported in the scientific literature and media are treated in isolation from other social, economic or cultural processes.   ILLUQ specifically focuses on the impact of climate change on populations living on permafrost in the Arctic. It targets the missing link between studies performed by scientists, engineers and consultants in local communities and solutions with local stake- and rightsholders. It focusing on the long-term implications of decision-making in the context of permafrost thaw, a time frame generally overlooked in existing governance frameworks. As such, ILLUQ will provide the first stake- and rightsholder driven assessment of the impacts of permafrost thaw on pollution, health and ecosystem services in the Arctic.  Work Packages Activities will be articulated around nine interlinked work packages with the first five covering the provisioning, regulating, and cultural elements of ecosystem services, and another summarising and synthesising the knowledge gained. In each of these five first work packages, the work starts with stakeholder engagement to set the stage for participatory research. Each of these work packages concludes with a task focused on One Health impacts related to the specific ecosystem services. Another work package synthesizes the knowledge gained on One Health in the earlier work packages and makes it available to local and European stakeholders. A further one synthesizes the results from participatory research and devises solutions (including nature-based solutions) together with local stake- and rightsholders. The final work…

Green Energy Meets Blue Food

Nordic countries have set up ambitious climate and energy targets and offshore renewable energy will play a key role in enabling the green transition in the Nordic Region. The European Green Deal underscores at the same time the importance of minimal harm to the environment and the contribution to nature conservation, with for example the EU Biodiversity strategy 2030 including more ambitious targets for protecting marine areas. Furthermore, our seas in the Nordic Region are also an increasingly important resource for food supply.  Offshore renewable energy, not least wind energy, is crucial for the green transition in the Nordic Region but its expansion poses challenges such as conflicts over space. Hence, there is an increasing need for enabling enhanced coexistence with other sectors, not least with blue food sectors such as fishing and aquaculture. Governance frameworks, in particular marine spatial planning, are crucial for managing conflicts, promoting collaboration, and for enabling possibilities for sustainable coexistence at sea.   The Nordic Council of Ministers have initiated several projects to address sustainable marine economy and coexistence issues. The “Green Meets Blue project”, financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers for Fisheries, Aquaculture, Agriculture, Food and Forestry (NCM FJLS) and running for two years (2024-2025), aims to contribute to a common knowledge base for the Nordic countries, by contributing with an increased understanding of sustainable coexistence between renewable energy (focusing on offshore wind energy) and marine food sectors (focusing on fisheries and aquaculture).    The project will give better insights on how Nordic countries and self-governing territories in the Nordic Region can effectively tackle potential conflicts between the green and blue sectors, promote synergies and better enable cooperation and collaboration. The project seeks to investigate existing conditions on how trade-offs, conflicts and synergies are managed between these sectors within marine spatial planning frameworks from a governance…

Young Nordic Food Producers – Growing Food(ies)

This project focuses on addressing the declining interest among young people in pursuing careers in the whole food value chain, including agriculture, livestock farming, fisheries, and forestry from farm and sea to fork, including related fields like processing, foraging, and hunting across the Nordic Region. Food production constitutes a significant value chain in all Nordic countries, with favourable conditions for agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, and further processing. Despite relatively high self-sufficiency influenced by climate conditions, access to marine areas, and suitable agricultural land, the sector faces challenges. There is a noticeable decline in youth interest in pursuing a career in those sectors, leading to fewer producers and an increased average age of 55.3 years in a predominantly male workforce. The project aims to identify innovative solutions to generate interest in careers within food production, covering agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry, and other relevant parts of the value chain, from land and sea to table, including veterinary studies, butchery, and fish processing. The research questions focus on the challenges faced when choosing food production as a career path, how to best support existing and upcoming food producers, and what support mechanisms are necessary for fostering innovation and new thinking among new food producers, as well as improving existing support mechanisms. The project will involve a comprehensive approach, including forming a reference group of young people from relevant organisations to ensure youth involvement and validate the project’s findings. The results will be relevant for educational institutions, interest organisations, and policymakers within food production in the Nordic countries, contributing to understanding and addressing the challenges faced by the food production sector, thereby paving the way for new opportunities and inspiring the next generation of food producers.

Education and young adults in Nordic rural areas (EDYNORA)

The “Education and young adults in Nordic rural areas” (EDYNORA) project addresses the crucial role of education in retaining and attracting young people in Nordic rural areas. Although education is vital for rural development, highly skilled individuals frequently migrate to urban areas in pursuit of better opportunities. Urbanization introduces imbalances such as population decline and economic disparities between urban and rural regions. This highlights the need to customize educational opportunities in rural areas to align with the needs of young people and local communities. The educational opportunities in regional centres are crucial for strengthening ties between young adults, regional labour markets, and local communities, potentially influencing young people’s decisions to stay or return to rural areas. EDYNORA investigates the impact of education, particularly higher education and vocational training, on the mobility decisions of youth and young adults. The goal is to enhance understanding and identify innovative approaches that align education with the needs and motivations of rural youth, ultimately strengthening their ties to local labour markets. The research aims to address three key questions: The project implementation involves surveys, gathering statistics, and exploring innovative approaches through focus group interviews and case studies across the Nordic countries and Åland.

ESPON TERRES

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:

Fulfilling the Transformative Potential of Nature-Based Solutions (Transform-IntegrateNBS)

At the heart of Transform-IntegrateNBS is a new "integrative lab" method, tested across six case studies in Norway, Poland, Spain, and Sweden. The method is designed to address complex, interconnected socio-environmental challenges while ensuring the equitable involvement of all relevant governing bodies and societal stakeholders. To overcome the significant challenges facing global envornments our project suggests a comprehensive strategy to implement NbS by studying 1) multiple interconnected challenges, 2) government entities and the stakeholders involved and affected by decision making, and 3) different ways society and individuals can change.

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.

A common Nordic labour market 70 years and beyond (70 ys and beyond)

The aim of the project is to produce a report which will consist of three parts: one chapter looking back at the role of the common Nordic labour market agreement from 1954 for Nordic labour market integration, one chapter looking forward on the Nordic labour market integration and a final chapter containing an analysis and conclusions for a more integrated Nordic labour market. In the first chapter the role of the agreement for the overall Nordic cooperation will be analysed, as well as its role for the Nordic countries’ international competitiveness. Data on migration and commuting between the Nordic countries over the period will be examined, including characteristics of the mobile labour force (e.g. gender, age, citizenship, education, profession, business sector). The effects of the pandemic to maintain the common labour market, as well as expected long-term effects on labour market mobility across the Nordic national borders will be explored. The second chapter of the study will be more looking into future. We will start by giving an overview and status of supply and demand in the Nordic labour market.  We will then explore in which sectors and regions we find the largest potentials for a more integrated Nordic labour market. The current lack of labour and skills mis-match that is found in many sectors and regions and whether a more integrated Nordic labour market can contribute to solving those problems will be explored. The third and final part of the report will focus on how cornerstones of the common Nordic labour market can contribute to the fulfilment of the vision that the Nordic Region will be the world’s most sustainable and integrated region by 2030. This part will be developed in dialogue with stakeholders from the EK-A, employers’ organisations and trade unions (Council of Nordic Trade Unions), labour authorities…

Employers’ role and responsibility in the integration of refugees and migrants

The overall aim of the project is to give a Nordic knowledge base on the role of employers in the process of integrating refugees and migrants in the labour market. The project will further highlight some promising examples of when the integration process has been successful. Labour market participation is central in the integration process of refugees and migrants. Research shows that it is difficult for refugees and migrants to find jobs, especially for low-skilled, non-EU born and women. The labour market integration of people born outside the EU is on average about 17 percentage points lower than that of people born in the EU. The recent crises, the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine, have not improved the situation. At the same time, the Nordic countries are suffering from labour shortages and are trying to attract hands and brains from abroad. Successful integration of migrants in the labour market presents an opportunity for our societies. Employers have an important role to play in integration. This project examines the status of this role in the Nordic countries, addressing the following questions: To what extent have companies, organisations and other employers hired people with an immigrant background? What are their experiences of the benefits and obstacles? To what extent is discrimination against immigrants widespread in the labour market and workplace? What can the governments and municipalities do to support companies in employing migrants? To provide a reply to these questions, the project will be articulated in three main steps. A thorough literature review will explore benefits and challenges experienced by employers in the Nordic region in the integration process of migrants and refugees. Then, based on interviews with employers and competent authorities, the project will also present concrete examples of promising practices and policies to increase labour market integration. Finally,…

Policy Recommendations to Maximise the beneficial Impact of Unexplored Mobilities in and beyond the European Union (PREMIUM_EU)

How can the individual benefits of migration translate into societal benefits for the regions people leave behind? PREMIUM_EU will use original research to find out why and offer tailor-made policies that counter the migration patterns which harm remote regions. Migration is a contentious issue in many parts of Europe, and policies that are seen as too favorable to migrants often face opposition from local communities. Shifts in labour sectors, housing shortages, integration tensions. These are some of many concerns receiving countries have about migrant flows. On the other hand, many remote regions face the opposite reality. People are moving and no migrants are arriving to replace them. When highly skilled workers migrate out of a region this can have negative impacts on the economy and social fabric of the region. Loss of talent and expertise combined with an aging population leaves communities in crisis. What will PREMIUM_EU do? PREMIUM_EU is built on the premise that spatial mobility, or the ability of people to move freely between different regions, can offer new opportunities to both sending and receiving regions. Europe’s population would shrink dramatically without migration. This project seeks to identify the positive effects of migration that are often overlooked.The lengthy acronym outlines the goal concisely: “Policy REcommendations to Maximise the beneficial Impact of Unexplored Mobilities in and beyond the European Union”. There are three research milestones that come together to achieve the main goal, which is a Regional Policy Dashboard. A palette of concrete policy actions that European regions can choose from. Project milestones Nordregio is leading the policy analysis and AI-generated policy dashboard during the third milestone, as well as leading communications throughout the entire project, including publications, events/conferences, stakeholder engagement, press, research newsletters etc. How does PREMIUM_EU work? Led by Leo Van Wissen, Senior Researcher and former director…

Sustainable Nordic Remote Labour Markets (SUNREM)

SUNREM explores how local labour markets in remote areas of the Nordic Region are impacted by global megatrends like demographic changes, growing tech needs, climate change, and globalisation There is already a shortage of workers and a mismatch between supply and demand in many remotely located job sectors. Facing an aging population and fewer young people entering the workforce, a loss of skilled workers to urbanisation, lacking infrastructure to support tech-changes, remote regions will struggle to survive without answers to the growing pile of difficult questions about the future. To add to this, climate change may have a disproportionate impact on remote areas. These places are often hit by more frequent and severe weather events that can disrupt economic activities and infrastructure. This in turn affects the security, safety and health of local communities. These global megatrends present new challenges but also new opportunities for remote labour markets, particularly in terms of transitioning to more sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices. What is SUNREM? This project specifically focuses on the green transition. Our aim is to expand knowledge about the correlated opportunities and challenges facing remote local labour markets in the region, as climate change continues to shake up otherwise stable sectors. The project takes its point of departure from case studies in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Åland, using both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. The project’s findings will be circulated through various outputs, including research reports, scientific articles, stakeholder engagement, and policy recommendations to promote sustainable labour market participation in remote areas. How SUNREM works? A collaboration of researchers from Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Åland come together to compare case studies, identify best practices and facilitate joint discussions on sustainable labour market participation in remote areas. Researchers are responsible for coordinating different work packages, ensuring close cooperation and integration throughout…

Nordic Cycle Power Network

Globally, more and more people are opening their eyes to the role of the bicycle in the fight for a green and healthy future. A new UN resolution has proclaimed the bicycle as a tool to combat the climate crisis. Knowledge sharing across countries is an essential element in using the bicycle to strengthen the green transition for the transport sector in the Nordic countries. Planners across the Nordic Region have begun to share knowledge in informal networks, which currently rely on personal relationships and voluntary resources, but a formal network has yet to be established.  The purpose of the Nordic Cycle Power Network is to activate a knowledge-sharing network among municipal and regional planners working to improve conditions for cycling. The network will identify measures that can be implemented in the Nordic Region to facilitate and enable a significant increase in biking trips to replace car use and drive down CO2 emissions from land-based transport.  Through several thematic workshops and study visits, the network will exchange knowledge that can strengthen municipal and regional bicycle strategies. The project will also produce a Nordic Cycling Agenda to summarise findings from the workshops and share good practices beyond the network. The project cooperates with the European Cyclist Federation in Belgium to facilitate network activities and disseminate results throughout Europe and beyond. 

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.  

Strategies to address rural labour shortage

The Nordic region faces a significant labour shortage challenge in many countries and places. Recruiting skilled workers to fill vacant jobs has become a common regional development issue for rural and cross-border areas. The project aims to fill knowledge gaps about strategies to address rural labour shortage, regional variations, and sectors that are particularly affected. The post-pandemic labour shortage situation in Nordic rural areas can be attributed to several reasons, such as decreasing rural population numbers and the retirement of ageing permanent rural populations. Moreover, rapid social transformations, including the green transition, automation, and digitalization, have led to structural changes that impact the Nordic rural labour markets. To ensure sustainable rural areas where men, women, and youth thrive, it is crucial to match the necessary occupational groups with their competencies. There is a lack of understanding about the common challenges of labour shortage in Nordic rural areas, as well as the strategies and solutions currently in use. This project aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the situation by collecting statistical data, producing visualizations, and facilitating discussions to fill these knowledge gaps. A cross-Nordic workshop will be arranged to discuss nuances, strategies, and solutions to the issue. National experts will also contribute with country-specific knowledge about rural labour shortage strategies and regional variations. The results will be summarized and published in a report. The project will address the following questions: The project is expected to promote Nordic knowledge exchange and to have a positive impact on development strategies that ensure robust regions and labour markets in the Nordic region.

Smart Adaptation to Rural Realities: Approaches and practices in Nordic municipalities and regions 

The project’s starting point is the current out-migration and population decline facing many rural municipalities. Smart adaptation refers to approaches that public authorities take to adapt their activities to changes in population. The project aims first to identify and describe smart adaptation strategies in rural governance across the Nordic region, both regarding written documents and concrete policy decisions. Secondly, the project facilitates Nordic learning and knowledge sharing between municipalities and other actors working with rural governance.  The research questions addressed include: The project may also reflect on smart adaptation strategies to manage other demographic changes, such as spatially concentrated population fluctuations or shocks. The project will develop a working paper around smart adaptation, including how it is defined and how it has been addressed in previous studies. The research team will also identify Nordic municipalities working with smart adaptation strategies to manage long-term population shrinkage. These shall serve as cases to study smart adaptation from a Nordic lens. The selected municipalities will then participate in and contribute to five workshops arranged (one) in each Nordic country to discuss how they work with smart adaptation, their experiences, and what others can learn. Experts such as researchers, local and regional authorities associations, and policy officials at the national level will also be recruited to the workshops. Representatives from Nordic municipalities and regions will also be invited to a Nordic workshop to learn about smart adaptation strategies and practices and participate in discussions about smart adaptation. The project will publish a policy brief with policy recommendations to local and national-level politicians. A scientific article will also be submitted to a peer-reviewed, open-access scientific journal. The academic article is to share the results with an academic audience and ensure that the project results can inspire future studies and interact with the international research audience to add to the…

Socially sustainable rural tourism

Recent Nordregio studies show that all Nordic countries aim for sustainable tourism development in their national strategies. Many ongoing Nordic tourism studies focus especially on economic and environmental aspects of sustainable tourism. This research however aims to look further into the concept of sustainable tourism development from a sociocultural perspective. The project will examine what the Nordic countries consider social and cultural effects in tourism development to be, and look into which possible indicators are used to measure the social dimension of sustainability in the ongoing quest of the Nordic countries for sustainable tourism development. This will include for example analysing tourism contributions and costs for regions and more rural areas, effects on employment, working conditions, provision of services, culture and arts, preservation of heritage, perception and preservation of nature, transport, housing and general tolerance towards tourism. This project will therefore produce a knowledge overview of how social and cultural aspects are considered in Nordic tourism development, both on a national level as well as regional and local levels. This will include a policy overview to pinpoint in which ways the social dimension of sustainable tourism development is being considered, and if and how, indicators are used to illustrate positive and negative impacts on the social and cultural dimensions of sustainable tourism. Also, how social and cultural identities are used to support sustainable tourism will be explored in the project. The in-depth qualitative part of the study would focus on social aspects of tourism such as the value creation of the tourism industry, the insecurity of the often very seasonality of tourism work, the role of tourism jobs as entry-level work and the lower-educated, employment of migrant workers in tourism-related industries and benefits and costs of tourism for societies beyond economic and environmental aspects.

Early career mobility in the Nordic region

Recent Nordregio studies show a difference in migration intensities and patterns between adults in their 20s and 30s. The aim of the project is to understand the migration drivers from the university towns and urban areas in the Nordic region, targeting adults in their early careers. The project will put an emphasis on urban-to-rural migration, addressing cross-cutting themes such as gender and the green transition.  It is no surprise that the net migration to university towns and urban areas is positive for people in their 20s while the migration patterns of people in their 30s are much more diverse. But where do young people migrate to after their studies?   Data shows that  people in their „early career“ leave capitals and university towns and move to rural and intermediate municipalities that are close to larger urban municipalities, but also some more peripheral   How could migration trends be supported and enhanced through regional development policy? By understanding the migration drivers of young people, regional actors could better prepare and respond to potential opportunities of positive migration flow to rural and remote areas. To support these opportunities for Nordic regional development, the project will explore the determinants of migration in the Nordic region and seek to identify the motives and drivers of early-career urban-to-rural migration.                    This research project builds on and contributes to several currently running Thematic Group projects examining migration and mobility in the Nordic countries, including the projects Re-Start Competence Mobility in the Nordic Region (Lundgren et al, 2021-2024), and Remote Work and Multilocality (Linda Randall et al, 2021-2024). The project is funded by the Nordic Thematic Group for Green, Innovative and Resilient Regions (2021-2024). 

Youth for Sustainable Living

This project will increase awareness about the sustainable development goals among youth in the Nordic countries. The project collaborates closely with existing organisations encouraging youth to take climate action and inspire peers to live more sustainably. The project is expected to have public impact through information, inspiration, and demonstration of necessary behavioural and cultural changes. The Nordic Region will be the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030 according to the Nordic Council of Ministers’ vision for Nordic co-operation. The Nordic countries are at the forefront of work on sustainable development and progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, we have to address several challenges, in particular, associated with ecological sustainability. The Nordic countries have unsustainable production and consumption patterns, and this project will focus on working towards SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. The project Youth for Sustainable Living collaborates with established organisations working with youth and sustainability. Through cooperation, events, campaigns and other activities, the project aims to increase knowledge of SDG 12 and encourage youth to take concrete climate actions. The project shall also provide youth with a platform to discuss and disseminate knowledge about sustainable development and promote networking with like-minded peers. During 2023 the project will participate in the following events: Sustainable living in the Nordic Region The project is part of the programme Sustainable living in the Nordic Region. The programme consists of six projects that will make it easier to live in a climate-friendly way in the Nordic Region. It is a cross-sectoral Nordic collaboration between the Nordic councils of ministers for gender equality and LGBTI (MR-JÄM), environment and climate (MR-MK), fisheries, aquaculture, agriculture, food and forestry (MR-FJLS), education and research (MR-U), culture (MR-K), and Nordic co-operation (MR-SAM), as well as NORDBUK and the Expert Group…

Small Town Attractiveness

The aim of this project is to explore current Nordic planning practices and strategies to enhance small town attractiveness. Urban attractiveness is a highly subjective value. As Hidman (2018) points out: “[Attractiveness?] What is the term intended to mean? How is the term understood in local contexts? How is the term transformed into buildings, parks, squares, streets, homes and other built environments?” In this project, we examine smaller Nordic towns that are considered attractive places to live and work in by the many. However, attractiveness has been studied from many angles in the Nordic countries over the years. In smaller town studies, employment opportunities are often in focus. Here, we explore a different emphasis, focusing on town characteristics that attract and retain population outside of work hours, which can be influenced through urban planning. More precisely, we explore the nexus Public space – Housing – Connectivity. Public space concerns the outline of urban space and architecture, services and living town centers, leisure and culture as well as blue-green infrastructure. When it comes to housing, a diverse and qualitative housing supply that fits present and future populations and its strategic localization is in focus. Digital and physical connectivity is important both within the town and with other towns and rural areas. Tying it all together, the connections between housing, public space and workplaces/schools​ that makes the urban structure are important. The project will explore current discussions on attractivity in the five Nordic countries and illustrate these with case studies of five towns.