Aktiver Javascript i din nettleser for en bedre opplevelse på regjeringen.no

Attractive Nordic towns and regions

Norway held the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2017. One of the main priorities was "The Nordic Countries in Transition". The presidency project "Attractive towns. Green redevelopment and competitiveness in Nordic urban regions. Towns that provide a good life for all", is one of several initiatives to promote Nordic competitiveness, green redevelopment, the transition to a low-emission society, integration and a good environment for public health.

The project is led by the Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Care Services and the Ministry of Climate and Environment.

Norwegian version: Attraktive nordiske byer og byregioner

News from attractive Nordic towns and regions

Nordic cities and regions in the network.
Nordic cities and regions in the network.

Presentations from the conference arranged 29-30th of november 2017 on Vulkan in Oslo: Nordregio Forum – The Nordic City – Opportunities and Challenges of Small and Medium-sized Cities  

Video presented at the Nordic Pavillon at COP23 in Bonn, november 2017: What is Attractive Nordic Towns? (vimeo.com)

The UN sustainable development goals, and in specific goal number 11, and "Urban sustainability and rural strength, Meld. St. 18 (2016-2017) Report to the Storting (white paper)" are important platforms for the presidency project.

The presidency project relates to "The Nordic Region in Transition" pillar of the programme for the Norwegian presidency. It will promote competitiveness during the transition to a green, low-emission economy. The Paris Agreement sets ambitious targets, to be achieved in a European framework. When aiming at the targets set for 2030 and 2050, the ambition is for the Nordic countries to lead the way by working together on climate and environmental issues and improving competitiveness, growth and our welfare model. Working even more closely together on education, research and innovation will allow us to develop our comparative advantages, and ensure that the Nordic region plays a key role in the global transition to a green economy. We will pioneer new ways of responding to demographic changes in age, health and the way we integrate and include newcomers.


Urbanisation is one of the key challenges the Nordic region faces in its transition to a green economy. A project on green transition and competitiveness in Nordic urban regions will help to make Nordic towns and cities part of the solution to environmental and climate challenges. The project is designed to identify indicators for attractiveness, and determine how the quality of cities affects the environment, public health and the creation of attractive jobs.

The presidency project will prepare a joint Nordic strategy for how towns and their surrounding areas can become more attractive through the development of vibrant and inclusive urban environments that are economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. Key elements here are environment- and climate-friendly solutions, social balance and equal opportunities for all, good social and public health services, cultural activities, vibrant town centres, historical-cultural objects and environments, good blue-green structures, urban spaces and architecture, coordinated land use and transport solutions and attractive job opportunities.

The project consists of four subprojects:

  1. Mapping, development and use of methods to measure urban qualities and sustainability
  2. Share knowledge between Nordic decision makers, administration and academic communities
  3. Contribution to handling complex decision-making challenges in urban regions
  4. A common Nordic strategy for attractive and inclusive urban environments

A network of small and medium sized Nordic towns is established by an invitation to apply. The advertisement was announced on the web sites of the Nordic Council of Ministers, underlying Nordic thematic groups and through the Nordic networks of The Norwegian Minstry of Climate and Environment, The Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Service and The Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation.

The participating towns are:

Denmark: SønderborgMiddelfartViborg
Finland: PoriSaloVasa
Iceland: AkranesHornafjørdurMosfellbærFljotsdalsherad
Sweden: VäxjöLundYstad 
Norway: HamarNarvikInnherredbyen

Meetings in the network.


Statusreports from projects in the groups

Group 1: Liveability and attractive towns

Group 1: Mobility Hub

Group 2: Youth empowerment

Group 2: Implementation of UN sustainable development goals in local planning in smaller Nordic towns

Goup 3: Liveability and business attractiveness in urban transformation

Group 4: Nordic Small Town LAB – How to involve citizens in developing attractive and sustainable towns

A series of both group-meetings, plenary-meetings and conferences will be held during the three years of the presidency project.

News from attractive Nordic towns and regions

October 2019

Final conference in Borgarnes, Akranes and Mosfellsbær on Iceland, 17th – 18th of October, 2019.

All the participating towns meet up for the last time this October. As Iceland holds the chairman of the Nordic Council of Ministers this year, it was the natural destination. On the conference all results so far from the working groups will be presented, together with the final version of the Nordic strategy on sustainable development from Sweco. In addition, we have challenged Distriktssenteret to help us to identify governance challenges linked to the execution of the single projects.

Presentations from  the final conference in Borgarnes, Akranes and Mosfellsbær on Iceland, 17-18 October, 2019

Programme for the Final conference in Borgarmes, Akranes and Mosfellsbær on Iceland, 17th – 18th of October, 2019 (pdf)

Report about sustainability indicators for Nordic towns

Sweco have made a report suggesting a selection of 30 different sustainability indicators for Nordic towns. 

Suggested indicators and toolbox for attractive and sustainable nordic towns and regions (pdf)

Conference on Attractive Nordic Towns in Ystad 28-29 November

Presentations from Conference on Attractive Nordic Towns in Ystad 28-29 November 2018.  Program (pdf)

June 2018

All action plans from the participating towns were approved by the steering committee.

Read the full versions (pdf) here: Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4

April 2018 - plenary meeting in Viborg

On the 12-13th of April, all participating towns met for a plenary meeting in the Danish town Viborg. On the agenda was further work on the group's action plans, their single projects and a first workshop with the consultants from Sweco on indicators and a joint Nordic strategy for sustainable urban development. Adding to that, the participants experienced both Viborg and its surrounding smaller towns and villages.

The action plans are due after the meeting in the steering group on the 8th of June. 

Web pages of Viborg municipality

The participating towns gathered in the city hall of Viborg.The participating towns gathered in the city hall of Viborg. Växjö was absent during the photo shoot.

March 2018 – Action Plans, work in progress

In all four groups, the participating towns are now working on their action plans for the rest of the project period. The plans are to be discussed in our plenary meeting in Viborg mid. April (pdf). The action plan will contain a description of the common challenges and opportunities in the groups, a list of indicators and methods to measure urban qualities that the towns use and which are missing. Furthermore, the action plan will include one or more single projects that the group chooses to engage in. The themes so far span from commuter-parking to co-creation, youth-involvement, liveability and small-town-labs. A full overview of the action plans and the single projects will be available in June.

January 2018 - allocation of consulting assignments

We have signed a contract with Sweco on mapping, development and application of methods to measure urban quality and sustainability, as well as the preparation of a common Nordic strategy.

The Sweco team consists of Hans Kristian Ryttersveen (Oslo), Teresia Sibo (Stockholm) and Ulf Johansson (Stockholm).

November 2017 - participation at the Nordregio Forum

The annual Nordregio Forum was held in Oslo 29-30th of November. Innherredbyen, Vasa, Mosfellsbær and Hornafjørdur participated in a separate parallel session. The purpose was to look at some of the challenges small and medium-sized towns are facing. At the same time the towns showed that they play an important part of a further sustainable development in the Nordic region.

Follow the links here to see the presentations from InnherredbyenVasaMosfellsbær og Fljótsdalshérað (pdf).

November 2017 - announcement of competition

November 2017 - participation at COP23

During the climate summit in Bonn (COP23) 11th of November, Hamar, Ystad, Växjö og Levanger participated in a one and a half hour's open workshop with participants from all over the world. The workshop was held in the Nordic pavilion.

Summary of COP23 (pdf). The following video was made before the conference: What is Attractive Nordic Towns? (vimeo.com).

Til toppen