Cities worldwide share challenges posed by the effects of urbanization and centralization. These relate to among other things smart growth and the challenge to reduce the environmental burden. On this page, you can learn about our latest projects related to urban planning.


Publications on urban development

Green infrastructure, and the existence of green areas and their spatial connectivity, is increasingly considered an asset for regional and urban development. The multifunctional qualities and attractiveness of green areas is an important growth factor, as it influences enterprises and people in determining e.g. issues of relocation.

Bringing the attention back to the city centre: “A dominant idea in urban development today is that the city centre should be a place for events and experiences rather than, for example, simply a public or political space. This belief makes the development of centres primarily about municipalities collaborating with real estate interests, business owners and event organisers on topics ranging from signage to large-scale new developments.”

Regeneration of brownfield sites into attractive urban areas is often considered both an opportunity and a challenge by cities: providing chances for resource-effective use of hard-made surface, while being challenging in terms of costs, technical issues, fragmented landownership and contamination issues.

City-regions are important arenas for addressing the many challenges associated with urban sustainability, inclusiveness and attractiveness. This synthesis highlights some of these key challenges, indicates where there is potential to develop more sustainable and co-ordinated planning and policy-making.


Sustainable Cities and Urban Development

The Nordic thematic group for sustainable cities and urban development 2017-2020 aims to help to improve national, regional, local and cross-border strategies for sustainable cities. Find out more about the thematic group.

Transport for Regional Integration in Border regions (TRIBORDER)

The TRIBORDER project aims to analyze the potential challenges of planning and developing transport connections across the borders in the Nordic region. The project activities will contribute to the work of the Nordic Thematic Group for Sustainable Cities and Urban Development, 2017-2020. Find out more about TRIBORDER.

Urban-rural flows of seasonal tourists – local planning challenges and strategies

Reviewing the contemporary Nordic research on planning for second homes and seasonal tourism in the Nordic countries it is clear that the role of seasonal flows of people and the second-home phenomena is still not fully understood. Further research on multi-residentiality and the flows of people travelling to rural areas for leisure and recreation is needed. Therefore, in this study the focus is on seasonal tourism and second homes as a spatial planning challenge in the Nordic countries. Find out more about the project.

The Impact of Participation: mapping and developing the scope, forms and impacts of the communicative turn in urban planning (TIPTOP)

There are various ways to create basis for good planning decisions. Today a key issue is how to involve and interact with citizens. However, there is still no empirical evidence on exactly how participatory practices influences planning processes, how frequently they are deployed and how they are designed. In view of the promises of the communicative turn, this lack of research is striking, and there is a clear need to elaborate how a democratic urban planning process can be envisioned and how current participatory practices can be developed. The purpose of this project is a) to provide a knowledge base derived from a systematic mapping of implemented participatory initiatives in order to reveal the mechanisms involved in achieving just, legitimate and efficient processes, and b) to enable a transfer between this knowledge and interventions in key planning institutions. Find out more about TIPTOP.

Adapting European Cities to Population ageing: Policy challenges and best practices

The population in the European Union (EU) is undergoing a process of population ageing with implications for public spending, services, the labour market and many other areas of public and societal life. The project analysis challenges and adaptation to ageing population in eight European cities. Find more about the project.

Södertörnsmodellen, stage 3

A shift towards economic, green and social sustainability in urban development demands new forms of collaboration between citizens, local authorities, businesses and the academia which adheres to local needs and preconditions. A lack of knowledge regarding these needs and conditions may result in actions and priorities in urban development that have severe social and economic consequences for society. Södertörnsmodellen envisions urban development that facilitates equality, prosperity and resource efficiency. Find out more about Södertörnsmodellen, stage 3.

Sino-European innovative green and smart cities (SiEUGreen)

SiEUGreen aspires to enhance the EU-China cooperation in promoting urban agriculture for food security, resource efficiency and smart, resilient cities. Nordregio is leader of the work package: “Support to Institutional and Social Structures for creating resilient cities with urban agriculture” and contributes to other working papers as well. Find out more about SiEUGreen.

GRETA – Green infrastructure: enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services for territorial development

The collaborative ESPON project GRETA aims to develop a comprehensive knowledge base for enhancing green infrastructures to benefit territorial development in different European regions and cities. Find out more about GRETA.

RELOCAL (Resituating the local in cohesion and territorial development)

Location matters. Where one is born and raised (still) determines to a considerable extent one’s opportunities and constrictions and it also impacts on one’s personality. After a long period of catching-up for most of the disadvantaged regions, inequalities among regions within Member States are now growing again. Find out more about RELOCAL. 

Agenda 2030

The project analyzes the implementation of the Agenda 2030 at the local level in the Nordic countries. In September 2017, the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) adopted the Generation 2030 programme that will facilitate co-operation on the challenges faced jointly by the Nordic countries in achieving the United Nation’s Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Find out more about Agenda 2030.

Improving Urban-Rural connectivity in non-metropolitan regions (URRUC)

This project aims to develop a transport policy toolkit for stakeholders to support transport policy decision-making and enhance connectivity between urban and rural areas across Europe. Find out more about the project.

Nordic Sustainable Cities – Export Efforts

The project aims at following-up, observing and documenting the efforts of joint Nordic export platforms in three markets: China, India and North America. Find out more about the project.

Territorial Impact Assessment for Cross-border Cooperation Cooperation

This project aims at developing and testing a methodology specifically tailored to assess ex-post territorial impacts of Cross Border Cooperation programmes. Find out more about the project.

Territorial Evidence support for European Territorial Cooperation Programmes

The project analyses 12 selected European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programmes. Nordregio’s role is to review existing and develop new indicators which contribute to more efficient measurement of the impacts of ETC programmes. Find out more about the project.

Social Green – Regional Policies towards Greening the Social Housing Sector

The Social Green project intends to address the issue of green social housing in order to contribute to reduce the GHG emissions as well as to reduce the fuel poverty indicators in EU regions towards a lower carbon economy. Find out more about Social Green.

RELOCAL (Resituating the local in cohesion and territorial development)

Location matters. Where one is born and raised (still) determines to a considerable extent one’s opportunities and constrictions and it also impacts on one’s personality. After a long period of catching-up for most of the disadvantaged regions, inequalities among regions within Member States are now growing again. Find out more about the RELOCAL project.