The yearly European Week of Regions & Cities (EWRC) has held on October 7th – 10th, where regions and cities get the opportunity to showcase how they implement the EU: s cohesion policy, the regional development work that they do. During the week the North Sweden office organized a seminal on green energy transition in sparsely populated areas, Umeå municipality participated in several seminars and Region Västerbotten organized a culture event. Read on for how the regions participated during EWRC.
From the region the participation was of varying themes amongst others, social innovation, development in sparsely populated regions and equality-based city planning. During Tuesday October 8th the North Sweden Office along with the other members of the network Northern Sparsely Populated Areas (NSPA) plus Scotland house the event "Renewable energy transition in sparsely populated areas". The seminar was on the topic of green energy transition in sparsely populated areas. On that same day Director Mikael Janson, of the North Sweden office participated in a panel discussion with the name "Europe Closer to citizens of Islands Mountains and Sparsely Populated Areas”, the purpose of this panel was to shine a light on the development in regions with specific challenges. Separate articles on these events are available in Swedish below.
What follows is a reiteration of the other engagements North Sweden had with participants from our regional actors as the EWRC in Brussels.
Region Västerbottens arctic culture event at the Swedish permanent representation
The artist Sara Ajnnak performed during Region Västerbottens culture event.
During the eve of Tuesday October 8th Region Västerbotten invited participants for a talk and concert at the Swedish permanent representation in the EU. The theme was "How can we together strengthen the development of the European Arctic?" and the coefficients were EU-parliamentarian Erik Bergkvist, the Swedish ambassador in Belgium Eva Hahn-Englund, the Saami artist Sara Ajnnak, Documentarian Oskar Östergren Njajta and Nina Björby, chairman of the Kulturberedning at Region Västerbotten. As the theme suggests the talk was on development in the arctic but the focus lay on the people who live there, amongst them the Saami community, and the need to highlight the culture of the indigenous populations and rights that are not seldom forgotten in discussions of arctic politics.
Umeå municipality and Social Progress Index
Susanne Thurén Strategic foresight advisor at Umeå municipality during the workshop on SPI.
During Wednesday October 9th Umeå municipality via Susanne Thurén, strategic foresight advisor on site in Brussels to introduce Umeå municipality and Region Västerbottens work on the pilot project Social Progress Index (SPI) at the workshop "Measuring social progress in European regions and cities".
The participating regions shared their experiences from participating the EU-commission project of the SPI index. The project members consisting of Västerbotten, western Greece, Eastern Slovenia and Bucharest-Ilfov,
Shared how well they believe the index coincides with the real world. The regions had differing views of the functionality of the index and the role it should have in local work and the discussions touched on for example the difficulties in measuring, what factors and variable could be taken out or added in and what knowledge gaps the index can fill. Region wester Greece belies the index does not consider interregional differences while Västerbotten believed the factors of equality within the index was lacking. The session was closed with a roundtable talk on how SPI can be developed as to better support the shaping and implementation of social politics.
Equality based city planning with focus on Umeå
Panel discussion with experts in equality and local lead development.
Susanne Thurén from Umeå municipality also participated in the seminal
"Capitalizing on diversity in local development” that aimed to highlight cases where bottom-up strategies like for example local lead development managed to reach social groups that normally fall outside of “the ordinary” regional development politics. During the workshop different projects were showcased and exemplifies how they had managed to include women, minorities and young people in the shaping of the local development strategy.
Susanne Thurén presented Umeå municipalities quality work on city planning. Girl and young women of ages 15-20 have been proven to be underrepresented in the use of the public spaces and parks in the municipality. The group also did not participate in the citizens dialogue that the municipality engaged with during planning of the parks and public spaces. To counteract this structure Umeå municipality created a project with a park shaped by this groups wished. Through different workshops opinions were collected from young women of the beforementioned ages and after that the municipality shaped a park that was adapted physically but also conceptually from the wished raised by the young women. For example, the seats are adapted for people of approximately 160-centimeter height and park visitors get to connect to speakers to be able to play one’s own music. The event was rounded out with a panel discussion with experts in equality and locally lead development.
Read more about equality based cityplanning in Umeå, here.