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What’s unique about Nordregio?

A month ago I started as the Director of Nordregio. A month passes by quickly. For me, it has been a time to familiarise myself with the organisation and the work we do. What I've found is that Nordregio, in many ways, is a unique place to work.

The most unique thing about Nordregio is its staff. A highly competent team of researchers and specialists, recruited not only from the the Nordic countries, but also from countries like the UK, Germany, France and Canada, gathered together in an attractive place in the heart of Stockholm make perfect conditions for a creative research environment. We have a multidisciplinary team with a focus towards social sciences. The researchers come from various disciplines, such as geography, economy, sociology, urban and regional planning, and political science.

Everything Nordregio does has a Nordic dimension. That doesn't mean that Nordregio only works with Nordic projects, but whenever Nordregio is a partner in, for example, an EU project or carrying out analysis for the authorities in a single country, the Nordic perspective is present. Today, we see a growing potential for the Nordic countries to play a leading international role in a range of fields by acting together. Regional policy, sustainable urban and rural development, green growth and innovation are areas where the Nordic Way is a forerunner.

Nordregio's research can always be characterised as applied or strategic. We enjoy seeing a concrete output and the implementation of our research in real life. This is important, as it helps stakeholders and policymakers make decisions on a solid evidence-based knowledge. Furthermore, most of Nordregio's research can be described as transdisciplinary, i.e. it is carried out in close cooperation with both private and public partners.

Finally, Nordregio hosts an extensive database of socio-economic statistics, covering local and regional levels (Nuts 2 and 3) for all five Nordic countries, as well as Greenland, the Faroe Islands and the Åland Islands. The database is frequently used by policymakers and is a true asset in our cooperation with other research institutions and the media. One example is a map from Nordregio that was published in a recent issue of The Economist, The Nordic countries: The next supermodel.

According to Nordregio's obligations to the Nordic Council of Ministers and our contract for 2013-2015, we will focus on four strategic areas. Three of them are thematic while the fourth is geographic.

  • The first thematic area focuses on the serious demographic challenges that the Nordic countries are facing, such as a reduced working force, an ageing population and an increased gap between growing urban regions and sparsely populated rural territories.
  • The second thematic area focuses on re-establishing economic development through green growth, smart specialisation, innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • The third thematic focus is targeted towards sustainable urban development and the development of tools for climate change adaptation and mitigation, including new planning and governance methods, growth management and efficient public transport systems.
  • Furthermore, Nordregio will focus on the Arctic region and the challenges it faces with regard to e.g. globalisation, climate change, and the exploitation of natural resources such as fisheries, mining, and gas and oil drilling.

As the new Director of Nordregio, together with Nordregio's staff, I'm looking forward to further developing the institution in close collaboration with national, regional and local authorities, private businesses and other research institutions both within and outside Norden.