The Department of Regional Development is responsible for monitoring the Norwegian government’s rural and regional policy.
The objective of the rural and regional policy is:
- that all people are free to choose their place of residence
- to ensure equal living conditions and to utilise all resources throughout the country
- to maintain settlement patterns in order to sustain and further develop the diversity of history, culture and the resources therein
- to contribute towards added value, employment and welfare within local communities.
For the entire country
- The regional policy encompasses all of Norway, both towns and villages. It is important to target a wide range of policy areas in order to achieve the goals set.
- The rural policy covers initiatives that target parts of Norway with low populations and which are isolated from the major urban centres.
Creating a comprehensive policy development
To allow all Norwegians the freedom to choose where they want to live, certain prerequisites must first be in place; such as employment, good infrastructure, services and welfare. The Department of Regional Development therefore targets a wide number of policy areas such as education, health, transport, culture, business development and exploitation of natural resources. One important task is to ensure that the different policy areas combine to provide good comprehensive foundations for regional development.
The coordination of policy areas must generally be carried out at a local and regional level. The municipal and county authorities play a central role in the rural and regional policy.
Numerous policy instruments
The Department of Regional Development is responsible for special rural and regional policy instruments aimed at commerce, county authorities, municipal authorities and research environments; for example, specific measures directed towards companies and business environments and to create attractive local communities. Special initiatives target areas which present particular challenges related to depopulation and a poor industrial base. One central policy instrument that targets industry is differentiation of employers’ national insurance contributions.
The majority of policy instruments are governed by the county authorities and the three public policy bodies Innovation Norway, the Industrial Development Corporation of Norway (SIVA) and the Research Council of Norway.
The Department of Regional Development
The Department of Regional Development is one of three departments within the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation. The department has some 40 employees, divided into around 15 different teams. In 2008, the Centre of Competence on Rural Development was established as a subordinate agency of the Ministry.