Online archive - find the most current content at

Four years of Nordic working groups come to an end

Over the past four years, Nordregio has contributed to Nordic co-operation by acting as the secretariat for four working groups under the Nordic Committee of Senior Officials for Regional Policy (EK-R). During the last of these four years, I have had the opportunity to be involved in the working group on Rural Development Policy, which has been tasked with the exchange of experiences and developing knowledge in the field of rural development in the Nordic countries. The themes have been very broad, highlighting rural policies in housing development, tourism in rural areas, as well as the European Agricultural Policy, CAP.

The main task of the four working groups has been to develop proposals for specific initiatives and projects in four action areas of the Nordic regional-policy collaboration programme 2009-2012: Working Group for exchange of experience and knowledge development (Urban Policies), Working Group for globalisation and cross-border co-operation, Working Group on Third Generation Regional Policy, and Working Group Rural Development Policy, Future rural areas. The work undertaken in these groups will be finalised at the end of this year.

Working Group on Rural Development Policy

Exchange of experiences and knowledge interaction have been the key foundations of this working group, which aims to increase knowledge about rural areas among Nordic policy makers, practitioners and researchers. Workshops and seminars have been the cornerstone for creating opportunities for knowledge interaction between relevant stakeholders. They have also provided an opportunity to reflect upon challenges and possibilities in rural areas. Similarities and differences between the Nordic countries have been in focus, as have Nordic relations with the European Union.

Final workshop in Lillehammer on small-scale tourism

In September 2012, we arranged the final workshop, in Lillehammer, Norway, on small-scale tourism in rural areas. I believe that it illustrated what this working group has been about; bringing policy, practitioners and research together. The work during the lunch-to-lunch session was characterised by intense presentations and engaged discussions between local tourism firms, policy makers and researchers about challenges and opportunities for destination development in rural areas. One of the main conclusions from the workshop was that there is lack of research on rural tourism on a Nordic scale and that the collaboration between research and policy needs be strengthened. It was also highlighted that tourism needs to be an essential part of the revitalisation of rural areas.

New programme period coming up

Recently, the Nordic Ministers of Regional Development and Planning adopted the new Nordic Cooperation Programme for Regional Development and Planning 2013-2016. The main themes will be Regional Sustainable Welfare, Green Growth for innovations and sustainable urban regions, and Sustainable Regional Development in the Arctic. The actual work will start in early 2013, and the working groups will continue to have a crucial role forming and implementing the programme, as well as further developing existing knowledge and networks. Hopefully, the next programme period will be characterised by increased collaborative intensity between policy makers and the Nordic research community in the field of regional development and planning.

Christian Fredricsson

Research Fellow