National support initiatives 

The Nordic countries have ambitious cross-sectoral national targets (e.g. climate, biodiversity, segregation, etc.) that require necessary actions to be taken in urban areas and city-regions. The aim of this project is to provide a Nordic comparative overview of different national initiatives (e.g. agreement-based approaches), national funding mechanisms, regulatory measures, and the demand for national support measures, that appear in the evolving planning landscape in the Nordic countries, and assess their green and social implications on regional and local development in urban areas.

Despite the ambitious national targets, the Nordic states have limited power to influence local level planning priorities, whereas municipalities have the most influential competences when it comes to regulating land-use as well as in a range of policy areas with implications on sustainable urban development.

This raises the questions of if, how, and to what extent central governments, can, should, and have the willingness or tools to support and collaborate on the development and implementation of different kinds of local urban development projects.

It also raises questions of if, how, and to what extent local and regional planning authorities need or would like further national support on the development and implementation of local urban development projects. One key aspect for national support initiatives is thus to both understand the regulative and national support aspect (top-down) and the needs aspect (bottom-up), to achieve the national cross-sectoral targets. 

At the same time, other types of planning approaches which change the conditions for local level planning are emerging. For example, agreement-based planning approaches which include Stadsmiljöavtalen in SE; byvekstavtaler in NO and MAL-agreements in FI. Common to the emerging planning approaches is that they may limit or challenge conventional planning processes and deliberative local planning approaches. The inclusion of citizen participation in planning processes highlights the role of the civil society and public when initiating concrete projects and practising decision making. More knowledge is needed on the green and socially inclusive impacts of national support measures and regulatory measures on local development and on locally situated collaborative planning efforts in Nordic spatial planning.  

It is important to further understand the diversity of the ongoing initiatives which includes central government interventions and private nation-wide stakeholder mechanisms in local and regional land-use development. This will therefore be examined by studying different components of involvement of the national level and other stakeholder involvement (supportive and regulative) in local level spatial planning. The focus will be to further understand the relationship between national, regional and local level planning authorities.  

The project is part of an assignment from the Nordic Thematic Group for Urban Development in the Nordics.

More information about the project and the Nordic Thematic Group for Urban Development in the Nordics can be found here.