New tools for policy makers and planners in remote regions

June 28, 2018

If you live in a small town where business is based on natural resources, sudden changes in the local economy – like a mine opening or closing – can have a major impact on the social structure. The REGINA project has developed a set of tools to prepare for such situations that will be launched at a conference in September.

The flagship conference for the EU sponsored REGINA project, managed by Nordregio – an international research centre on regional development and planning established by the Nordic Council of MInisters, will take place in Rovaniemi in Finland, on September 11-12, 2018.

The conference is entitled “Preparing for large-scale investments in small communities – a hands-on approach to local smart specialization” – and you can read more or sign up at It builds on the concept of local smart specialization, but adapts this to the context of remote and sparsely populated regions.

Online handbook and new toolbox

The conference will mark the launch of an online handbook outlining the results of the REGINA project. This includes a series of workshops on some of the core tools developed: A Demographic Foresight Model, a Social Impact Management Plan and a Local Befit Analysis Toolbox.

The tools are devised to help local planners and decision makers in communities where the economy is very dependent on resource based industries to deal with changes in socioeconomic structures, say if a big mine opens or an aquaculture plant is developed.

Local businesses and citizens in general also stand to gain from the work done in the project, that has included five municipalities in the Northern and Arctic region covered by the activities of the EU Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme sponsoring REGINA.

Speakers include Katri Kulmuni, Member of the Parliament of Finland, chair of the Finnish Delegation to the Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region and Jens Sjörvik, project leader at the Swedish agency of economic and regional growth.

Kristiina Jokelainen, from the Regional Council of Lapland will open the conference and Janne Uusivirta from the East & North Finland EU Office is moderator.


Social impacts of mining – new results from the REGINA project

The latest results from the EU funded REGINA project focus on attitudes to mining projects in remote areas, in this case the town of Storuman in Northern Sweden.

Storuman Municipality has now published the results of their survey evaluating Social Impacts of Mining in their local area. The report details the results of a survey done by local residents asking them about their perceptions of existing and future mining development projects.

The results show that the respondents are generally quite negative towards existing and future mining activities, partly because they enjoy and deeply value good access to nature, including the rich possibilities for pursuing outdoor activities, which they fear might be jeopardized.

The processes concerning mining is perceived to be difficult do understand by a majority of respondents and they are in general dissatisfied with the degree to which the public has been informed and included in planning processes. There is also a questioning as to the municipality’s practices of planning concerning mining-related activities and this has led to public concern over the municipality’s ability to handle potential negative environmental impacts caused by mining activities.

The report is part of the EU funded REGINA project, that attempts to support remote communities with resource based economies better tackle planning and development processes and issues.

Human capital and natural resources – the REGINA project visits Kujalleq

Representatives of the EU financed REGINA project visited Qaqortoq and Kujalleq municipality in Greenland on September 7-12 for the fourth partner meeting of the project. The visit focused on the social impacts of large scale industrial projects, including the issue of vulnerable groups and education needs

When remote communities are faced with the issues involved in large scale industrial development the focus is often on the economic interests or the environmental consequences, while the social and human aspects tend to take second place.

The EU funded REGINA project is designed to support remote communities in dealing with the challenges involved in managing the development of a resource based economy – particularly in relation to interactions with large non-local companies and outside actors. This is a situation that often leads to many faceted social consequences. So, the REGINA project addresses social issues on equal footing with the challenges posed in terms of economic and environmental sustainability.

Vulnerable groups

Many remote communities in the Northern Periphery and Arctic region in fact struggle with social problems that may impede or even prevent local development. This is a fact that must be addressed on equal terms with other planning issues, according to Senior Researcher Rasmus Ole Rasmussen from Kujalleq municipality.

- The topics of vulnerability and social challenges tend to be taboo in a lot of development processes, but it is important that it is considered already in the programme design of projects like REGINA. I think we have come a long way in this project in terms of sharing some of the experiences that remote communities struggle with, but it requires openness and a willingness to accept outside input from your project partners even on sensitive issues, Rasmussen specified.

The REGINA project aims at adapting the concept of Smart Specialisation Strategies – used widely in the EU to promote regional development – to the reality of small remote communities, adding a local perspective to the concept. And this often reveals many nuances left out in larger contexts.

Holistic effort

As a REGINA partner, Kujalleq is aware of the need to work in an evidence based fashion when dealing with local development. But at the same time, the municipality must acknowledge the fact that all social change arouses a great deal of feeling, no matter how many facts and new business plans you present.

“Smart specialization is also about thinking and planning holistically, taking into account all possible angles and reactions. This is particularly important in small communities. There is very little room for fragmented organization with such a small population base and it takes very little to rock the boat, said Development Manager in Kujalleq, Keld Jensen at the REGINA seminar.

The REGINA project will be finalized by September 2018 with the publication of an on-line handbook that presents three different tools intended to help local authorities in remote communities to deal with development issues regarding large scale industries. This includes a so called Demographic Foresight Model, a Social Impact Management Plan and a Local Benefits Analysis Toolbox.

Managing social impact – new guide to making the most of human capital in local communities

The REGINA project addresses the social issues as well as the challenges posed in terms of economic and environmental sustainability when developing local resource based economies. At the recent REGINA partner meeting in Greenland a new guide on how to handle social impacts of major changes in local communities was presented

One of the three main toolboxes to come out of the REGINA project is a so called SIMP (Social Impact Management Plan), that looks at the social effects in remote communities involved in major change processes. The guide outlines potential challenges and presents advice on how to handle them.

The SIMP guide was launched at the REGINA partner meeting in Kujalleq municipality in Greenland in the beginning of September. One aim of the guide is to continuously monitor social change to soften the blow from large scale industries operating in the local area. But it also looks at the positive side of the coin and explores the human potential in local communities.

The guide provides guidance to work with citizen participation and public involvement to manage social impacts of large scale resource based industries extracting natural resources. It looks specifically at a mining project and is developed in cooperation with Sodankylä municipality in Finland, but the results are applicable within other sectors and in other local projects too.

People matter

- We talk a lot about natural resources when discussing development. But maybe we should focus a bit more on human capital and “people potential”. We should not just look at the challenges, but also at the quality of life in remote communities, said one of the writers of the guide, University Lecturer Leena Suopajärvi from the University of Lapland in connection with the partner meeting in Greenland.[SL1] 

The REGINA project has adapted the concept of Smart Specialisation Strategies used widely in the EU to promote regional development to the reality of small remote communities, adding a local perspective to the concept. This often reveals many nuances and needs left out in larger contexts, including the social aspects of major changes in smaller settings.

In addition to the SIMP-report the REGINA Demographic Foresight Model (DFM) and upcoming DFM handbook done by Senior Researcher Andrew Copus from the Nordic Centre for Regional Studies, Nordregio, was also presented at the partner meeting.

The model offers municipalities the opportunity to deal with shock scenarios and long-term impacts on the population from developments within resource based industries. Finally, the upcoming REGINA Local Benefits Analysis Toolbox due later this year was discussed.

The REGINA project will be finalized by September 2018 with the publication of an on-line handbook including the three toolboxes along with a series of case studies and other materials to guide the development of local smart specialization strategies.

Next partner meeting: Qaqortoq 8-12 September

A group of local politicians and planners from the Arctic and North Atlantic as well as researchers from Nordregio and  a number of other Nordic research institutions will be in Qaqortoq from 8-12 September  to discuss local planning and development.

The visit takes place in connection with the EU funded REGINA project, that aims to assist remote communities with a resource based economy enhance development and innovation. The REGINA project builds on the concept of smart specialization strategies used widely in the EU in connection with regional development. But the project adds a local focus on smaller towns and areas, rather than larger regions.

Smart specialisation is expected to strengthen regional development in Europe and increase innovation, investments and jobs based on local capabilities and assets. But is the smart specialisation concept also applicable for communities in remote and sparsely populated areas in the Arctic?

Can a local smart specialisation approach help smaller communities that often have less capacity to mobilise resources for strategic planning? The REGINA project provides a laboratory of five northern communities to explore the issue, including Kujalleq municipality in Greenland.The visit to Kujalleq will include study tours to small scale fisheries and other local companies and participants will discuss entrepreneurship and SME development. The trip will also focus on vulnerable groups in the local community as well as employment education and training.

For more information, please contact Michael Funch at +46 708 96 27 24 or      

"Towards Extended Shared Socioeconomic Pathways"

As a part of the project “Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic” (AACA), funded by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, the REGINA scientist Maiken Bjørkan is one of the authors of a recently published article relevant for the REGINA project. AACA is concerned with climate-and environmental changes as well as socio-economic changes that impacts the decision-making processes in the Arctic. The article is published in the highly ranked Global Environmental Change and is called “Towards Extended Shared Socioeconomic Pathways: A Combined Bottom-up and Top-down Methodology with Results from the Barents Region”. The first author is Annika E. Nilsson and the other co-authors are Ingrid Bay-Larsen, Henrik Carlsen, Bob van Oort, Kirsti Jylhä, Elena Klyuchnikova, Vladimir Masloboev, Lize-Marié van der Watt. It is relevant for the REGINA project in general as it is concerned with how communities are able to cope – or not – with changes as well their participation in decision-making in processes that traditionally are top-down driven. Moreover, this article provides an inspiration for the workshop methodology used in the REGINA framework to ensure a bottom-up decision making process with regards to the strengths, weaknesses and the visions for the communities. However, while the AACA projects used scenarios (shared socio-economic Pathways) REGINA does not put this into their workshop methodology. For those interested in learning more about Narratives and dig deeper into the use of scenarios, this article is recommended. 

The article, Towards Extended Shared Socioeconomic Pathways: A Combined Participatory Bottom-up and Top-down Methodology with Results from the Barents Region, can be found here:

"Scientists gather in Thurso" REGINA in the John O'Groat Journal 14 April 2017

print screen from the john o'groat journal, april 14 2017

print screen from the john o'groat journal, april 14 2017

REGINA partners met in Thurso for third meeting

The third partner meeting took place in Thurso, Scotland, and gathered all partners for discussions, workshops and an open seminar. Read more about the meeting here.

Local meeting in Brønnøysund made it to the local news

Brønnøysunds avis 24 february 2017

Brønnøysunds avis 24 february 2017


Meet one of our partners: Storuman Municipality

A brief interview with Karina Umander can now be found online.

REGINA NEWS #2 is now available online!

The second newsletter can be found here. Would you like to receive our newsletters by email? Sign up to the right!

Successful meeting in Sandnessjøen brings the project forward

The second partner meeting is a wrap and after two full days of presentations, work pods and exchange of experiences we are now ready for the next steps in the project. We have gathered some of the presentations, photos and other information from the meeting here

Meet one of our partners: Alstahaug Municipality

This is the second of the interviews with our partners. Alstahaug Municipality is one of the local partners and also the host of the upcoming partner meeting. 

Read the interview here

Meet one of our partners: Sodankylä Municipality

This is the first in a series of short interviews with our partners and an opportunity to get an insight into the project from the partner's perspective. Is there anything specific that you would like to know? Let us know.

Read the interview here.

Welcome to our open session in Sandnessjøen on August 16

The project's second partner meeting takes place between August 15 and 17 in the Rogaland region and we are happy to invite you to our open session where local politicians and actors will present local issues and challenges as well as the project. The invitation can be found here (in Norwegian). The session is an opportunity for media, locals and others interested in REGINA and the challenges that are examined in the project to gain more information and also meet researchers and project partners. For more information please contact Communications Officer Johanna Feuk at Nordregio

Presentations from the Baltic Sea Commission's General Assembly in Sandviken 27 May

The take on local smart specialisation that REGINA has got generated lots of interest in Sandviken and we were pleased to see that our workshop was well visited. Two presentations were held; one by Jukka Teräs, Nordregio and one by Karina Umander, Storuman Municipality. Both presentations can be found here (pdf).

Jukka teräs. picture by nordregio.

Jukka teräs. picture by nordregio.

REGINA partners at the Baltic Sea Commission's General Assembly in Sandviken 27 May

Nordregio, Storuman Municipality and Midtskandia will together hold a presentation on Smart Specialization Strategies (S3) where Nordregio will introduce the larger perspective and Storuman will talk about the local perspective. The General Assembly gathers actors from the Baltic Sea region and is hosted by the Baltic
Sea Commission and Region Gävleborg, in cooperation with Policy Area Innovation of the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. (EUSBSR) More information can be found here.

REGINA News #1 2016

REGINA News are produced in relation to meetings or other events that are of interest to stakeholder, partners and others that share the interest of the issues that are tackled within the project. The first News were produced after the Kick-off in Hemavan, Sweden in January 2016. Download the newsletter here

REGINA Fact sheet

Would you like to know more about REGINA or share information about the project? Our Fact sheet gives you a brief introduction to the project and tells you more about the challenges and opportunites that we are facing. Find it here