Nordregio has published an exciting perspective on social innovation in the nordic context. An online resource based on in depth research into the challenges facing rural and remote regions in the Nordic countries and Scotland.
Rural and remote regions in the Nordic countries are facing continuing rural-urban migration, which not only accentuates sparsity but also distorts the age, gender and socio-economic balance by depleting the population of young, well-educated and economically active people. At the same time, there is a growing push towards increased efficiency in the use of constantly shrinking public resources. Demographic shifts are increasing the need for services while at the same time resourcing for services is decreasing. This is making it incredibly difficult to maintain acceptable levels of well-being and economic vitality in rural communities.
Social innovation is seen as a potential way to address these challenges. This research project investigates the role of Social Innovation (SI) and how it can respond to these challenges.
“It (social innovation) can only be initiated through a social process, and therefore requires some level of community spirit and cohesion.”
In this study, Nordregio has narrowed it down to activities that are social in both their means and their ends. Put simply, when local community members work together to address a social need the community becomes stronger and better able to deal with new challenges in the future – this is social innovation, according to the authors. Social Innovation may include collaborations between the public sector and the third sector, commercial providers, and service users themselves to find new ways of working. It also includes initiatives developed and driven by local people. These actions can ease the pressures on public services as well as generating economic and social activity that provides a disincentive to out-migration.
The five Nordic countries and Scotland have each followed similar SI trajectories but are all at different stages on the journey. Part of the publication looks closely at these different journeys, outlining the national context in which social innovation has developed in each Nordic country and in Scotland.
This online publication presents the findings of the project and has four interconnected parts:
• Understanding social innovation and its role in local development
• The policy context of the Nordic countries and Scotland
• Case studies as practical examples
• Supporting social innovation in rural communities