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Regional disparities on the rise: taking stock of the trends shaping the Nordic Region

State of the Nordic Region 2024 is out! The 20th edition takes stock of the latest development trends on demography, labour market and economy across the Nordic countries and regions.

The Nordic Rural Youth Panel publishes 40 action points for making rural areas attractive for youth

Many rural municipalities are experiencing population loss as young people move away, without returning. Is there a way to attract young people to stay and move back to Nordic rural areas? Yes, if you improve public transportation, offer diverse housing options and dynamic educational opportunities connected to the local job market, says the Nordic Rural Youth Panel. There’s a belief among youth that success and a good life are only achievable by moving to a city, which can make rural places feel less valued. However, there’s a growing interest in changing this narrative and showing that rural areas are full of opportunities. To combat stagnation in Nordic rural areas, 25 young people from the Nordic Region came together in a Nordic Rural Youth Panel to discuss key solutions for making rural areas more attractive to youth. They offer concrete action points for policymakers and decision-makers in rural areas and push for changes that would make young people want to stay and build their lives there. “We believe their suggestions can play a part in bringing life and vitality back to these rural communities”, says Research Fellow Mari Wøien Meijer who has been leading the project at Nordregio. The Nordic Rural Youth Panel is calling for affordable and efficient public transportation, advocating for diverse and affordable housing options, and demanding dynamic educational opportunities with clear pathways to the local job market, including innovative remote work solutions. They also highlight the need for public spaces and activities that bring people together, helping to create strong community ties. The panel’s recommendations are unique and represent a great opportunity for policymakers to get first-hand information directly from young people. The young people themselves have been involved in setting the agenda from the beginning and have worked together on the themes and recommendations during several…

Nordic youth panel recommendations shared with regional ministers and the OECD at recent events

How can rural areas become attractive for youth? The Nordic Youth Panel has the answer. The panel’s recommendations were presented at a recent webinar on regional attractiveness organized by OECD, and for the Nordic Ministers of Regional Affairs in Reykjavik during a meeting last week. Research Fellow Mari Wøien Meijer had the possibility to present the work of the Nordic Youth Panel during the webinar “Enhancing regional attractiveness for resilient development: a dialogue amongst practitioners”. The webinar was arranged by the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities and gathered various practitioners and experts to discuss enhancing regional attractiveness for resilient development. The event aligned with the OECD’s ongoing efforts to understand and promote regional attractiveness due to evolving global challenges like climate change, technological shifts, and the quest for more strategic globalisation objectives. Key drivers of regional attractiveness are attracting talent, investors and visitors to regions grappling with challenges like outmigration. In the Nordic region, many rural municipalities face demographic challenges with ageing populations and the migration of young people to urban areas, resulting in less diverse labour markets and services. Adapting to these trends while attracting young residents is challenging due to the superior educational and employment opportunities in cities. This situation leads to reduced funding for services, especially for the elderly and youth, further diminishing the appeal of rural areas and creating a vicious cycle of decline. What can we do to make rural areas more attractive for young people? Key areas of focus as identified by the Nordic Rural Youth Panel include improved transportation options, affordable and diverse housing, accessible education linked to local labour markets, mental and physical health support, funding for public meeting spaces, and communication using accessible language and platforms. “The Nordic region’s aim is to become the world’s most sustainable and…

Zooming in on Gen Z: What’s next for the Nordic Region?

The upcoming Nordregio Forum 2023, set to take place in Reykjavík and online in October, turns the spotlight on the young generation of the Nordic region. This year’s forum aims to delve into the perspectives of young Nordics, as they navigate career choices, sustainability challenges, and where to settle down. The choices of these young individuals will significantly influence the Nordic region’s future development. Given this, understanding their aspirations, mobility trends, and views on sustainability is crucial for integrating their perspectives into effective policymaking and planning. During the event, young representatives participate in panel discussions to elevate the opinions of youth on topics such as ‘Youth as partners in the green transition – building sustainable communities’ and ‘What does GenZ need to stay in the Nordics? Nordregio Forum serves as an essential gathering for professionals and policymakers in the Nordic countries, offering a platform to discuss regional, rural, and urban development, share knowledge, and influence policy agendas. “This year’s Nordregio Forum is not just about recognizing the fresh ideas from our youth. It’s crucial we bring them to the decision-making table, ensuring their voices are not just heard but are influential. We are actively working with them for a sustainable Nordic future”, says Rolf Elmér, Director of Nordregio. The event is slated for October 17th, 2023, with physical participation at Iðnó in Reykjavík, while a broader audience can join online. As youth prepare to shape the region’s direction, the forum presents a unique chance to listen to their voices and weave their insights into upcoming strategies. Registration is currently open for those keen to join the dialogue and shape the Nordic region’s path forward. Summary of Nordregio Forum 2023 Programme: Opening remarks by the moderator and Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, the Icelandic Minister of Infrastructure Session 1: Entering the Nordic labour market…

Introducing PREMIUM_EU: A new project to prevent brain drain in Europe

Can research and AI-generated policies counter migration trends that tend to harm vulnerable regions? A new project kicks-off an ambitious attempt to find out. People are no longer bound to their birthplaces and are instead choosing to move to other parts of the world in search of better opportunities. In Europe, this has led to a phenomenon known as brain drain, where highly skilled workers leave their home regions in search of better jobs and quality of life. This has left behind areas of Europe that are struggling to maintain their population and attract new talent. PREMIUM_EU is a project that seeks to enlighten and find alternative ways to turn this imbalance around. Why study migration’s effect on 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. 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. What is PREMIUM_EU? The lengthy acronym outlines the goal concisely: “Policy REcommendations to Maximise the beneficial Impact of Unexplored Mobilities in and beyond the…

Maps from the State of the Nordic Region at the 22nd Nordic Demographic Symposium

Dr. Timothy Heleniak, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio, will participate in the 22nd Nordic Demographic Symposium in Norway to present the State of the Nordic Region 2022 report. The overall topic of the conference is Covid-19 demography. The scientific program of the Symposium demonstrates the generally relevant, multidisciplinary nature of demography and brings together a wide range of cutting-edge research on fertility, mortality, and migration, with links to broader socio-economic and health dynamics. “In the Symposium, I will be presenting a poster based on the State of the Nordic Region 2022, which focused on the impacts of Covid-19. I hope to bring a spatial perspective that is often lacking in demography,” says Heleniak. The poster features nine maps highlighting findings from the State of the Nordic Region 2022. The Nordic Demographic Symposium is the meeting of demographers, social scientists, and students in the population from the Nordic Region. It was initially planned to be held in June 2021 but had to be postponed a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more about the event here. Read the State of the Nordic Region 2022 report here.


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Nordregio at the “Population Dynamics and Climate Implications in the Arctic” webinar

Nordregio researchers Timothy Heleniak and Justine Ramage will present at the “Population Dynamics and Climate Implications in the Arctic” webinar. They will participate in a panel discussion on Arctic Population Dynamics and share their insights based on Nordregio projects ”Polar Peoples in the Future: Projections of the Arctic Populations” and “Atlas of population, society and economy in the Arctic”. The webinar will provide a forum for experts and attendees to: Identify human geography data which provides a foundation for examining the changing environment in the Arctic Explore Arctic demographic trends, including outmigration, urbanization, and settlements, and their broader impacts Discuss participatory and other local mapping processes conducted with indigenous peoples to better understand human security issues in the Arctic region Webinar speakers and the WWHGD Working Group Support Team will highlight and share relevant methods and data during the event. You will also have the opportunity to collaborate with other participants, share data, and pose questions to the speakers. The webinar is sponsored by the World-wide Human Geography Data Working Group and hosted by the Office of the Geographer of the U.S. State Department. The WWHGD is co-led by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Department of State. Find more information and registration here.