Attractive Nordic towns and regions

Norway holds the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2017 and one of its main priorities is “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

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? (

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.

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