Urban Policy in the Nordic Countries
Although the Nordic countries were late starters, urban policy now seems to be an integrated part of the public initiatives connected to urban problems.
In this paper the emergence and practise of an urban policy in the Nordic countries is discussed. Although focus and organization vary among the five countries, there are common trends. Firstly, the emergence of an urban policy has challenged the Nordic welfare model because it emphasizes specific and geographically varied qualities, rather than general equity. Secondly, the emergence of an urban policy has challenged the traditional thinking about “urban” as a necessary evil, and replaced it with the notion of the “urban” as a positive driving force in society’s well-being. Thirdly, the way urban policies are conceived and implemented has supplemented planning and regulations with programmes and initiatives involving local actors in governance based ways, but the state still has a strong role to play. The paper discusses these three statements based on a case study of the implementation of urban policies in the five Nordic countries.
Although there are common features in the development of an urban policy in the Nordic countries, this research also found variations as to thematic foci in the single countries. These variations are partly based on the geographical and socio-economic characteristics of the countries, but also on variations in political culture and tradition. It must be underlined that in every country all three paths of urban policy are included to some extent, but there are differences as to what is seen as most important, what is defined as “urban policy” and what is simply defined as sector policy “as usual”. In some countries—like Norway, Sweden and Denmark—there is an explicit urban policy,while in Iceland our interviews were to some extent a matter of finding out whether anything that could be defined as “urban policy” exists in Iceland at all. Our selection of national foci in the single countries is based on the interviews and document studies reported in Gertrud Jørgensen and Thorkild Ærø (2005). Thus, they also serve to illustrate what we find is the most interesting and inspiring parts of the urban policies in the single countries.
University of Copenhagen - Danish Centre for Forest, Landscape
DK - 1958 Frederiksberg C
Gertrud Jørgensen, tel: +45 3533 1828
Gertrud Jørgensen and Thorkild Ærø
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Article | Urban Policy in the Nordic Countries - National Foci and Strategies for Implementation
01 Jan 2008, pdf, 139KB