“Planning and development tools for small-scale communities with large-scales industries” 

The REGINA project has developed a series of tools and an overall analytic framework to reduce the vulnerability and increase the preparedness of small communities in remote areas of the Nordic Arctic and Scotland facing the development – or closing-down – of large-scale, resource-based industries. But the results and the tools developed are also relevant in similar communities elsewhere. The project was part of the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme 2014-2020 and was finalized in September 2018.

REGINA proposes an innovative framework to develop Local Smart Specialisation Strategies (LS3) for small, remote communities with large-scale, resource-based industrial development. Such LS3s will support local authorities in their efforts to maximize the benefits and minimize the vulnerabilities caused by industrial development. 

The REGINA project group consisted of a transnational mix of research institutions, stakeholder groups and five small, remote municipalities. Together they have created LS3s based on the 6-step LS3 model, including three specific planning tools: a Demographic Foresight Model (DFM), a Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP) and a Local Benefits Analysis Toolbox (LBAT).

The 6-step LS3 framework is centered on three common territorial challenges in the Northern Periphery and Arctic area:

1.     Demographic Changes: Where an ageing population naturally reduces the reproductive capacity of an area, this is exasperated further by the long-established and selective out-migration of a disproportionate number of young, well-educated persons, especially women. Modern, high-technology resource extraction and processing activities may then face challenges recruiting a local work force and often resort to regular “fly-in fly-out” solutions, which leak economic benefits out of the local area. This is addressed by the REGINA Demographic Foresight Model.

2.     Potential land use conflicts and their social impacts: with a key challenge being the ability to ensure a continuous focus on landscape preservation throughout the duration of large-scale industrial projects. This includes the wide-ranging social, cultural and economic activities in which local individuals and communities depend on an undisturbed, natural landscape. It also includes the recovery and restoration of the landscape and its cultural aspects after industrial activities cease. This is addressed by the REGINA Social Management Impact Plan.

3.     Managing green growth potential, including the local retention of benefits: whereby two key conditions are emphasized. First, where the potentials associated with the diverse relationships between economy and ecology are addressed in the planning process. Second, the need to limit export leakage of direct profits, supply chain revenues as well as indirect economic benefits associated with local spending.  A special focus will be put on strategies to strengthen the local supply chain linkages of resource based industries. This is addressed by the REGINA Local Benefit Analysis Toolbox.

Local and global relevance

The Local Smart Specialisation Strategies developed build upon existing territorial assets of each community involved - be they environmental, economic, human or social - to secure the most economically beneficial, socially inclusive and environmentally responsible development. 

REGINA has thus tried to respond to the key challenge of ensuring that sustainable and resilient local community development is prioritised when planning large-scale industrial developments in Europe’s Northern Periphery and Arctic Region. 

Overall, REGINA has worked towards improving the preparedness for large-scale investments in small communities and reducing the vulnerabilities of these communities towards the decline or closing-down of large-scale projects. 

Furthermore, REGINA has aimed to enhance the likelihood of successful outcomes by using transnational cooperation and learning to mobilize local communities in promoting local economic growth and welfare. In this respect, the REGINA results are applicable all over the world in similar resource-based communities in sparsely populated areas as the ones participating in the project.

 

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