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Nordic finance ministers discuss Nordregio research

On June 3 and 4, the Nordic finance ministers convened in Stockholm to address shared economic challenges. Key topics included the economic and political management of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the subsequent energy and inflation crises in the Nordic region.

Enhancing economic competence in Åland: Insights and strategies for policy enhancement

How can Åland improve its economic competence to manage future challenges? A new policy briefing on the topic emphasises the island’s importance of addressing contemporary megatrends, including demographic shifts, globalisation, digitalisation, and climate change. The article is a contribution to the Centrum Balticum Policy Briefing series and is written by Anna Lundgren, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio, and co-author Jukka Teräs at NORCE. Åland, the autonomous region with slightly over 30,000 inhabitants in the Baltic Sea, is both an island economy and strongly interconnected with its neighbours in the global world, for example through international shipping, trade, tourism and international networks. In this policy briefing, the authors explore the implementation of the EU Structural Funds in Åland (2014-2020) and discuss how Åland can improve its economic competence to manage future challenges. The development of firms is closely linked to the macro-level economic development of the region, and to release systemic benefits and foster sustainable development, it is important to analyse current megatrends and engage with stakeholders from different levels of government. Moreover, to improve the organisational, technical and learning capabilities in a small economy such as Åland, attracting talent and competence and fostering place-based solutions is important. Read the policy briefing here.

How will climate policies hit Nordic wallets and welfare in the future?

How we consume, how we travel, how we heat our homes. Many far-reaching changes will be necessary to prevent further climate change. But who will end up paying for them? Spanning across timezones and academic fields, Nordregio launched the report with a widely anticipated online event last week, with the title: “What impact do climate change policies have on Nordic economies, industries, and households?”  The newly launched report is the first of four parts to the project Ensuring Inclusive Growth in the Transition to a Green Economy (EnIGG). The primary focus of this project is to look closer at vulnerable regions and population groups in a time where Nordic economies face grand transitions and looming climate change realities. Ambitious climate goals will not be met for free, but who will pay the highest price for them? This question was the central theme of the launch event. The report is based on a complex model that measures the impact of climate policies on GDP, industry outputs, employment and cost of living at national and regional levels.  The model, called Nordic-TERM, is a newly developed and covers almost the entire Nordic Region.  Professors Peter B Dixon and Maureen Rimmer demonstrated this model by showing the audience what happens when you estimate the impact of  three central greenhouse policies: The key finding is that ambitious climate policies related to transport and energy can be implemented without causing significant disruptions to the Nordic economies. With the exception of Sweden, these policies would not be sufficient to meet climate targets, but they would go a long way in reducing emissions without significant sectoral or structural effects. Ending the presentation with this insightful perspective on the value of this report, the audience was led straight into the panel debate, moderated by Kirsi Heikel, renowned journalist and…

New Nordic study on regional policy and instruments for economic recovery

Nordregio researchers analysed regional policy and examined policy instruments to deal with economic shocks and crises across the Nordics. The study contributes knowledge and experience about the Nordic countries’ regional policies and efforts to deal with economic recovery in regions or municipalities. How do countries define regional policy? What responsibilities do actors in the multi-level system have at different levels? How do actors at different levels interact to handle economic shocks or crises? These and many other relevant questions are the focus and receive answers in this study. According to Nordregio Senior Research Fellow Anna Lundgren, what is considered as regional policy, rural policy, and regional development policy differs between the Nordic countries. Regional policy is also complemented with sector policies, such as labour market policy, infrastructure and tax policy, which affect regional development on a large scale. The implementation of regional policy takes place in multi-level governance frameworks adapted to the institutional structure in the individual countries.  -The systems to deal with economic shocks or crises in the Nordic countries are place-based and include actors and measures from national, regional and local levels. Well-functioning multi-level governance cooperation and trust among actors are key factors in dealing with economic shocks or crises, says A. Lundgren. The study is based on document studies and semi-structured interviews with representatives from the regional political system at the national and regional levels and with experts in the field.  Read the publication here (in Swedish).

Nordregio at the Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research

Nordregio Research Fellows Anna Karlsdóttir and Ágúst Bogason will participate in the 29th Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research. Called “Shaping mobile futures: Challenges and possibilities in precarious times’ this year’s conference focuses on finding ways out of the vicious circle of irresponsible production and consumption while also moving towards a more sustainable future for tourism. Finding tools and methods needed to manage this tourism in an ever-changing world is another main aim of the event.  The Nordregio Research Fellows will facilitate and lead several sessions, Anna Karlsdóttir being in charge of the ‘The importance of slow food and what it means for gastro tourism and slow travels’ session. Ágúst Bogason will present Nordregio’s and CRT’s research on Sustainable Tourism Planning at a session named “Methods measuring sustainability effects of tourism development for benefit of local communities and rural areas”.   “Few sectors have been impacted more by the ongoing pandemic than the tourism sector. International travel almost came to a full stop and the entire chain in the tourism sector has been affected. A few rural places have experienced their best seasons yet because of increased domestic travel during the pandemic, while the traditionally more visited destinations and regions have been hard hit. As the world is slowly opening up again, the question remains how tourism will develop in the coming years?” says Ágúst Bogason. According to the researcher, many people feel the longing to travel freely again, and all tourism-related businesses eagerly await the arrival of visitors. But going ‘back to normal’ is not an option from a climate perspective. There are, therefore, many challenges as well as opportunities for the tourism sector of tomorrow. And research on the subject must play a pivotal role for the tourism sector to develop more sustainably. During the conference, Nordregio’s partners at CRT (Centre for Regional…

Second-home population needs more attention in Nordic policy and spatial planning

About half the population of the Nordics has access to second-homes and use them during the summer or winter seasons and weekends. Regular retreats to rural areas by people from the towns and cities have an impact on small towns and municipalities. But it is lacking attention in policy and spatial planning. These and other issues facing small towns are analysed in a recently published book “The Routledge Handbook of Small Towns”. Nordregio Senior Research Fellow Dr. Elin Slätmo has contributed with a chapter about urban-rural integration through second-homes. The chapter ”Urban–Rural Linkages” is based on an analysis of Nordic statistics and qualitative fieldwork in five Nordic municipalities. It seeks to investigate if and how second homes and seasonal tourism are being embraced as part of the Nordic spatial planning and policy agenda. It also looks at the implications of second homes and seasonal tourism for urban–rural integration throughout the Nordic region. “There are several ongoing processes that enforce the urban-rural blurring when focusing on second homes in the Nordic countries. The dynamic between the urban and rural is continuously created by activities such as multilocality and mobility towards second homes,” says Dr. E. Slätmo. According to the researcher, it is crucial to actively include the second-home population into local policy and planning. Because these people are using infrastructure and services in the areas they inhabit, and they contribute to the local economy and social life in rural areas. But the variability of the population due to second-home usage or tourism is still largely ignored in policy and spatial planning in the Nordic countries. The book also addresses issues related to the development of small towns and their role for regional growth in different countries. Read the chapter here. The book is available here.


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Nordregio contributes to a new book on the future of EU Cohesion Policy

European Union (EU) Cohesion Policy remains vital for enhancing regional economic growth and reducing socio-economic disparities between European regions, particularly those regions facing industrial decline or in isolated rural areas. To shed light on ongoing and future challenges, a new book, ‘EU Cohesion Policy and Spatial Governance’ has been published, including a chapter by Nordregio. The book examines the economic, social, and political impacts of EU Cohesion Policy within different policy and planning fields. It identifies the multifaceted and dynamic nature of the policy and shows how it is interlinked with other policies, targeting unresolved questions of strategic importance in territorial governance, urban and regional inequalities, and social aspects and wellbeing. In a contributing chapter, Nordregio Senior Research Fellow, Dr. John Moodie, explores the role of EU marine spatial planning (MSP) policies and practices in creating greater coherence within European sea basins. “The chapter argues that while EU MSP initiatives have helped build social capital and consolidate networks, particularly between national planners, more permanent transboundary MSP structures and cross-sector collaboration are needed if there is to be increased alignment and coherence in MSP in the future”, says Dr. J. Moodie. The Nordregio contribution builds on recent projects including, Baltic SCOPE, Pan Baltic Scope, and Bonus Basmati, which examined the nature of governance and stakeholder engagement in transboundary MSP processes.

Why is Nordic co-operation struggling during the pandemic?

Insights on Covid-19 impacts from the perspectives of cross-border communities During Covid-19, free movement of people and services, and trade across borders has been drastically disrupted. Despite existing co-operation agreements, the Nordic countries took uncoordinated actions to protect themselves. Border closures have heavily affected lives in border communities. How could Nordic co-operation recover after the pandemic by integrating the resilience approach and focusing on cross-border communities? Nordregio – Nordic Institute for Regional Development – launches a report that gives an overview of the situation in Nordic border communities following border closures. Results point to the need for a quick recovery and re-engagement in the Nordic Vision 2030, which states that the Nordic Region is to be the most sustainable and integrated region in the world. Fragility of border communities and Nordic co-operation Since the introduction of the Nordic Passport Union in 1954, long before the establishment of the Schengen Area, Nordic citizens could travel without passports and reside freely in any Nordic country. Virtually borderless societies established strong connections with neighbouring countries. This allowed people to easily access goods, services and larger labour markets across Nordic countries. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries took unilateral actions to protect themselves, moving away from the Nordic Vision. Since then, border closures inflicted significant social, economic and political impact on the border regions: ‘Hard‘ borders re-emerged and border guards were deployed to stop border crossings. Border closures separated families and friends, and disrupted access to work, education and basic services. The closed Svinesund bridge connecting Sweden and Norway and a fence erected in the middle of Victoria Square between Haparanda and Tornio (Sweden-Finland) created a shock reaction in the communities which haven‘t experienced anything like it since World War II. Great economic losses resulted from a sudden absence of border shoppers…

Open call for picture submission

Help Nordregio to visualise life in the Nordic cross-border areas during COVID-19 Do you live in a Nordic cross-border area? Or have you visited any of these areas before or during the pandemic? Maybe you took a bunch of pictures there? The cross-border communities are facing many challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic and closed borders. Life is not the same any more – many have had to change their daily life and work routines. Nordregio researchers are working on several projects in relation to this situation and you will hear about them very soon. To complement the studies and raise awareness about the current challenges, we would like to ask you to contribute with pictures from Nordic cross-border regions. Guidelines for submission: The submitted picture is made by the person who is submitting; One person can submit up to 5 pictures; The pictures are taken in cross-border areas in the Nordics; The caption describes the location, time and situation portrayed; If people are portrayed in the picture, and their face is recognizable, their signed consent to publish a picture should be provided; If people in the picture are under 18 years old, the parents’ signed consent to publish the picture should be provided; The pictures size is min 1 MB – max 16 MB; The picture formats are jpg, jpeg, png. Share your pictures by the 5th of March! The pictures will be used to illustrate Nordregio’s scientific publications and communications material related to the studies. The submissions are not subsidized but a clear reference to the author will be made. If you have any questions or concerns, please, contact

Nordregio is hiring: Head of GIS Department

Nordregio is inviting applications for a senior position as Head of GIS Department. Working at Nordregio means an opportunity to become part of a truly international research environment with a focus on sustainable regional development in the Nordic region and beyond. It offers significant career development potential in terms of enhancing your competences through applied and policy relevant research, achieving an international network of contacts, as well as getting extensive experience in team and project management. You will also get rich opportunities to collaborate with regional and municipal stakeholders in the Nordic countries. Nordregio is currently seeking a new Head of GIS Department with: Expertise in GIS, geo-data, quantitative analysis, and applied research in the field of regional development. Experience in leading a team and managing projects as well as a successful track record in grant applications. Knowledge in geographies and socio-economic trends in the Nordic Region and beyond. A drive for working in teams and in an international applied research environment. Eagerness to present and disseminate results to different stakeholder groups, both orally and in written format. Competences and qualifications As Head of GIS Department, you both lead and manage the GIS-team by planning and organising tasks and activities, communicate with each team member and contribute to their development. You are also a project manager with responsibilities to attract, initiate and lead externally funded research and innovation projects. The geographic scope of your field of interest includes a European and international perspective and expert knowledge in at least one of the Nordic countries. We appreciate abilities in external networking and in communication with stakeholders. Internally we appreciate analytical and creative skills, complemented by abilities to both cooperate and work on your own. For this position, you have at least 6 years of relevant work experience and an extensive network…

Apply to the Nordic Arctic Co-operation Programme

The Nordic Arctic Cooperation Programme of the Nordic Council of Ministers has opened up its call for new project applications for financial support in 2021. Deadline for sending in proposals is 1st February 2021 (12:00 CET). The aim of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Arctic Cooperation Programme 2018-2021 is to create sustainable and constructive development in the Arctic and for its people based on the four P’s: planet, peoples, prosperity and partnerships. The programme is administered by Nordregio, with one round of applications per programme years.

16 Dec: How regional policies are greening the EU Social Housing sector?

Welcome to the Final Conference of Social Green project online Pathways to Greener Social Housing in Europe on the 16th of December at 10-12.30 (CET). This event seeks to provide an enjoyable experience for everyone promoting interaction and boosting shared learnings from the Social Green projects around EU. Social Green partners will disseminate the results & benefits from the implementation of the regional Action plans. Read more about the event and sign up: More about the Social Green project:

Stronger cross-border cooperation after the pandemic

Cross-border activities came dramatically to a halt in the spring of 2020 as a result of measures adopted to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. The ability to work, socialise, do business and use services across borders is an integral part of daily life in border communities all across the Nordic countries and Europe. Since the pandemic hit, border communities have faced extraordinary challenges as national borders were suddenly closed and various other restrictions were put in place. These obstacles were at the centre of attention at an online event “Strengthening cross-border communities: Lessons from Covid-19” organised by Nordregio together with the Bothnian Arc and Svinesund cross-border committees on the 12th November 2020. By Páll Tómas Finnsson, Communications consultant at Finnsson & Co Increased awareness of the value of cross-border cooperation “In times of crisis, it’s always possible to find opportunities,” said Martin Guillermo Ramírez, Secretary General of the Association of European Border Regions. He gave a European perspective on the challenges facing border regions, not only because of the pandemic but also in light of political developments such as Brexit and the increasing nationalism throughout Europe. In his talk, Ramírez emphasised that the current challenges should be regarded as an opportunity to further boost cross-border collaboration in the future. “Many of the nation states in Europe decided to close their borders to contain the pandemic, but in some cases, they were reopened less than 24 hours later because of the high level of interaction in the border areas,” he explained. According to Ramírez, the situation has brought the importance of integrated border communities higher up on both the national and European agendas. “This represents an important turn of events, considering that we started the year with the announcement that there would be a budget reduction for cross-border cooperation in…

Bioeconomy – a super force for the Nordic region?

A new article written by Nordregio researchers shines a light on the benefits and advantages of bioeconomy for regional development in the Nordic region, showing that many new jobs were created over the past years in rural areas When we speak about bioeconomy, we refer to a model of economy built on land- and marine-based natural resources including eco-system services and biowaste. In a newly published article, “Bioeconomy – a driver for regional development in the Nordic countries”, Nordregio researchers Karen Refsgaard, Michael Kull, Elin Slätmo and Mari Wøien Meijer analyzed employment statistics and empirical cases to show the ways in which the new bioeconomy contributes to more environmentally and socially sustainable economic growth. The article, “Bioeconomy – a driver for regional development in the Nordic countries”, was published on October 9th, 2020 and can be viewed as a first attempt at understanding and identifying the regional economic and social impacts of the new bioeconomy, such as the fact that it creates many jobs, from below 15% to above 22% of all jobs, especially in rural areas. However, developing a bio-based and circular economy signifies that a team effort must be made, education, research and bioresource-suppliers, NGO’s and in particular together with the public sector having to work together. Furthermore, institutions need to go through a range of innovations. To learn more about the impact of bioeconomy in the Nordic countries, read the full article.

Webbseminarium – Återhämtning efter covid-19 på Åland: Kapital och Kompetensförsörjning

Den 9 september bjöd Ålands landskapsregering in till lärandeseminarium som anordnas i samband med utvärderingarna av Landsbygdsutvecklingsprogrammet (LBU) och Strukturfondsprogrammet. Seminariet med namnet ”Återhämtning efter Covid-19 på Åland: Kapital och kompetensförsörjning” behandlade de ekonomiska och sociala konsekvenserna av Covid-19, hur Åland ska återhämta sig med tanke på kapital och kompetensförsörjning samt vad LBU-programmet och strukturfondsprogrammet 2014-2020 och kommande EU program 2021-2027 kan tillföra? Seminariet hade 65 deltagare och modererades av Elin Slätmo och Jukka Teräs, seniora forskare på Nordregio, och författare av utvärderingarna tillsammans med ÅSUB. Diskussionen inleddes med att Sölve Högman och Susanne Strand, byråchefer på Landskapsregeringen gav sina perspektiv på hur LBU- och strukturfondsprogrammet kan stötta återhämtningen på Åland. Enligt Sölve Högman finns det mycket att lära av jordbrukssektorn eftersom resiliens och återhämtning är en del av vardagen för lantbrukarna som varje år påverkas av väder och klimat. Inom LBU-programmet finns därför stöd inbyggda, även om dessa kan behöva omformas för att bli mer långsiktiga. Susanne Strand, ansvarig för strukturfondsprogrammen, menar att Åland, som alla andra stater och områden med EU-program, i nuläget funderar på kommande programperiod och undersöker vad det finns för behov i regionerna. Huvudtalare för seminariet var Peter Wiklöf från Ålandsbanken. Peter Wiklöf förklarade att Åland vanligtvis brukar klara sig bättre genom kriser än fastlandet Finland eller Sverige men att krisen åsamkad av Covid-19 varit annorlunda. Den åländska arbetsmarknaden, med generellt låg arbetslöshet, har fått uppleva permitteringar, framförallt på grund av minskad turism och minskad efterfrågan på varor. Dessa perspektiv bekräftades senare med statistik från Jouko Kinnunen från Ålands statistik- och utredningsbyrå, ÅSUB, som presenterade siffror på hur Ålands ekonomi och arbetsmarknad påverkats av Covid-19. Några slutsatser är att det är turism- och transportsektorn som har drabbats hårdast och att det framförallt är unga på väg in på arbetsmarknaden som påverkas mest. Både Jouko Kinnunen…

Online workshop 24 September: NordMap in a nutshell

We are happy to invite you to the 3rd online NordMap workshop on 24 September at 9 am, where you will get a change to be introduced to NordMap in a nutshell and get familiar with the tool in 30min. During the workshop we will show you how to: Find the statistics and infographics for regions Create maps and share them with others Find similar regions and municipalities Use time series to see change over time Play around with map colours or design map in favoured spectrum   Sign up here: And visit Nordmap here:        

A pressing problem: Are the rural housing markets frozen?

In many rural areas, the market val­ue of houses is low – often considerably below the cost of construction. As a consequence, it is very difficult to obtain the loan to build or buy. This ‘freezes’ the market and has a negative impact on rural development overall. So, how could the rural housing markets improve in the Nordic countries? A new Nordregio Report and Policy Brief, shed light on the role of financing, the part played by municipalities, and the potential benefits of a larger rental market. Via interviews, a picture of the predominant challenges facing the Nordic countries emerges, and the specific nature of these challenges is described in five case studies. Based on these, we have identified various mitigating measures at national and municipal level. Both the Report and Policy Brief are part of the work of The Nordic Thematic Group on Sustainable Rural Development 2017-2020. Please join the online event Nordregio Forum in November for thematic discussions. Report 2020:7 Rural housing challenges in the Nordic region POLICY BRIEF 2020:4: Breaking the downward spiral::Improving rural housing markets in the Nordic Region 

Online workshop 27 August: Learn to make maps in 30min!

NordMap is easy and free to use web-mapping tool – We are happy to show you online on 27 August at 9am, and it only takes about 30min! Are you studying or working with regional development and planning? Or perhaps just interested in regional and municipal differences when it comes to ageing, employment figures or the economy in the Nordic Region? All topics related to State of the Nordic Region are included in NordMap and data continuously updated. NordMap is easy to use and you don’t need any previous mapping experience. Sign up here: And visit Nordmap:          

Fiscal Frameworks report and webinar now available

The report Fiscal Frameworks and Fiscal Sustainability in the Nordics was launched via a webinar on Friday the 3rd of April. The report was commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers and written by Lars Calmfors. Timothy Heleniak of Nordregio provided a background note and Nordregio organised the webinar launch. The topic is highly relevant as the issue of fiscal frameworks and public finances have come into new light due to the current outbreak of Covid-19. The report was written before the outbreak, but the recorded presentation and panels shed light on the issue. The video presentation can be found here. The video panels are here. Presentation by Lars Calmfors The report is available for downloading here.  

New report: Building affordable homes

Why does the contemporary Nordic welfare state lack affordable housing? Nordic cities are segregated, and new housing development, application of diverse forms of tenure, and housing subsidies are examples of tools that can either worsen or reduce segregation, depending on how they are used. The focus of this publication is primarily on new building for low-income and vulnerable groups, often referred to in English as ‘affordable housing’, that is, housing for groups on the market’s periphery who suffer from high barriers. The financial aspects of housing are central, especially as regards new-building costs, subsidies, social housing models, and affordability. The market seems unable, on its own, to supply enough suitable housing for students, young people, low-income groups, and newly arrived immigrants, among others. This is of political interest since it challenges the whole idea of the Nordic welfare model, and social cohesion and equality as characteristics of the Nordic region. This report is the result of work done for the thematic group Sustainable Cities and Urban Development.