About Theme Group 3: Sustainable Cities and Urban Development

Making cities less vulnerable and switching to environmentally friendly transport systems and local energy solutions are key development issues for all Nordic regions and for the sustainable development of major cities. Issues related to housing, transport, and energy systems/climate adaptation are priorities for regional policy. More or less every part of the Nordic Region faces the challenges posed by the effect of urbanisation and centralisation on cities, whether large metropolises or small or medium-sized towns.

The challenges relate to smart growth and not creating towns and cities with a negative impact on the environment; to countering segregation, creating attractive and inclusive environments, leveraging the potential of digitalisation to develop smart cities, and overcoming the divisions between urban areas and the surrounding countryside. It is important that Nordic cities are attractive, work well and are safe for everyone. Historically, the Nordic countries have had a similar pattern of urban development and similarities in how they are planned and managed. Nevertheless, there are also sufficiently major differences both between and within the countries for lessons to be learned about the development of urban regions. The “Nordic Built Cities” initiative focuses on sustainable construction, architecture, and urban development. It is particularly relevant to this priority area for Nordic co-operation in terms of the export of ideas and concepts that can be taken further in the context of planning and sustainable urban development.

Nordregio, the Nordic Council of Ministers’ international research centre for regional development and planning, provides the secretariat function to the theme group.