Online archive - find the most current content at

Connecting the urban and the rural

Nordregio News Issue 4 2017


I used to say that the most crucial environmental factor for the sparsely populated areas of the Nordic Region is the private car. Without cars, people would not be able to live in such areas, and without people the open landscape would turn into an impenetrable jungle. Today, with increasing digitalization, the importance of physical distance is diminishing. The size of functional regions, i.e. the geographical areas in which many people both live and have their daily work and social life, is expanding beyond administrative borders.

Read the full column by Kjell Nilsson

Column II

By Guro Voss Gabrielsen

This Nordregio Forum is dedicated to Nordic cities and the developing connections between urban and rural areas. The theme brings into play many of the whicked problems we all face when striving to advance sustainable development.

Earlier this year, the Norwegian Government presented a white paper on urban sustainability and rural strength. It pointed specifically to the need for a cross-sectoral approach to several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. This, however, is a challenge for public management and requires creative dialogue between stakeholders.

Read the full column by Guro Voss Gabrielsen


Co-operation - a Hallmark of Nordic Cities

By Mitchell Reardon

What is the model “Nordic city”? Could it be Copenhagen, Helsinki or Stockholm? Perhaps it’s Oslo, Reykjavik or even Kiruna? When seeking to identify THE defining Nordic city, the reader should be forgiven if the differences between these cities rather than the similarities leap to mind. Rather, I suggest that those in search of the archetypal Nordic city may as well be looking for Valhalla. The cities spread across the Nordic region do not fit into a single defining box. However, they do share a series of common features. And in my experience from across a range of Nordic urban regions, no feature better illustrates the Nordic city than that of cooperation.

Read the full article


A key to global urbanization challenges

By Hans Fridberg

Urbanization is one of the most prevalent global trends today. By 2050, 66 per cent of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas. Meanwhile, in many parts of the world, populations continue their rapid growth. The scale of the trend is exemplified in the two most populous countries on the planet. By 2050, India is expected to add 404 million additional urban dwellers and China 292 million.

Read the full article


Building for sustainability and attractiveness in small and medium-sized Nordic cities

By Monica von Schmalensee

The ‘right to roam’ or Allemansrätten has been enshrined in the Swedish way of life for longer than anyone can remember. The belief that everyone is equally entitled to appreciate and enjoy the land around them is a central principle in Sweden, which is also upheld at White Arkitekter. This principle of social equity and inclusivity forms the bedrock on which we plan buildings and cities in the Nordic region. By putting people first, our building projects become more socially and environmentally sustainable, which results in more attractive places to live.

Read the full article


How useful is the concept of an urban-rural divide?

By Hallgeir Aalbu

The urban and the rural are often regarded as contraries. This has had a significant impact on policy directions across the Nordic countries. However, the current concern is not to reduce any supposed urban–rural divide but to encourage specific territorial responses that bring stakeholders together, allowing cross-sectoral interventions to move beyond traditional policy divisions. 

Read the full article


Good practices beyond major urban centres in the North

By Jukka Teräs

Smart specialization, developed as a response from European regions to rising global competition, is at the heart of current regional innovation policy in the European Union. It is a strategic approach to economic development through targeted support for research and innovation. The European regions are being encouraged to design their own smart specialization strategies to fully realize their potential. The concept of smart specialization is, however, intended not only to create competitive European regions but also to make the regions more sustainable and inclusive. Could this concept also be applied beyond the urban regions, for example, in rural and peripheral regions of the Nordic countries?

Read the article here


Cold Hawaii: a site-based approach towards successful rural development

By Finn Jorsal

About 400 years ago, Klitmøller, a small town in the northwest of Denmark, was known mostly to the naval traders between Denmark and southern Norway. The seaside used to be full of local merchants sailing corn and bullocks to Norway and bringing timber and iron back. In the 19th century, the trades began to decrease because of changes in both the area’s natural conditions and naval technology. After a stagnation period, fishing again took the lead in Klitmøller. This continued more or less successfully for the next 150 years until 1967, when a large harbour was opened in Hanstholm, about 10 kilometres north of Klitmøller, to which all of the fishermen moved their boats. At that time, Klitmøller again fell into stagnation. However, German surfers discovered the area during the 1980s and since the 1990s, traders and fishermen have been completely replaced by thousands of surfers who come to the North Sea for the best waves in Europe, i.e., to surf what is now known as Cold Hawaii.

Read the full interview