ICELAND: European research on regional development – The ESPON research cooperation and its future I

Iceladnic ESPON seminar has been held on 10th October in Hotel Nordica in Reykjavik.

The first of two ESPON on the Road dissemination seminars in Iceland was organised by University of Akureyri Research Centre and has been held in Reykjavik on Friday 10th October. The target groups of this event were members of municipal councils, mayors, MPs, staff of various government and municipal offices and institutions.

It took place at the conference hall at Hotel Nordica Reykjavik, Iceland. The meeting was held paralell to a large annual financial conference of Icelandic municipalities (held at the same venue).


Place:
Hilton Hotel Nordica Reykjavik, Iceland. Time: 13:00 - 15:00.

Speeches were given by

  • Gretar Thor Eythorsson, Icelandic ECP: Short introduction on the ESPON on the ROAD project
  • Árni Ragnarsson, special advisor Icelandic Institute for Regional Development: The ESPON cooperation and Iceland’s participation
  • Grétar Þór Eyþórsson, professor at University of Akureyri and ECP of Iceland: The ESPON ECP, his role and Icelandic participation in ESPON 2007-2013
  • Hjalti Jóhannesson, researcher University of Akureyri Research Centre: ESPON research with Iceland’s participation – what is our experience from them?
  • Mats Johansson, researcher at Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and ECP of Sweden: The ESPON programme from the standpoint of Sweden – application, usefulness and future vision

The agenda of the meeting was to introduce in a general manner ESPON research and cooperation on research and experiences. 45 persons attended the meeting.Present ESPON programme was introduced and how the next programme is anticipated to look like and when it will commence. The Icelandic ECP introduced his role and he discussed ESPON 2013 and his experiences from this period. Two examples of research projects were introduced where Icelandic partners had participated and findings for Iceland were discussed (SeGI and KITCASP). An introduction from the Swedish ECP and researcher on ESPON research on demographic changes was well received and how this type of research can shed a light on national developments given that the geographical detail of analysis is enough. It was apparent that ESPON is not very well known in Iceland, judging by the comments from the audience but there was much interest in the project in general and that Iceland is covered in ESPON research and presented in ESPONmaps equally to other European countries - instead of being a grey spot in the upper left corner or even asuitable placefora map legend! It was discussed that geographical level of analysis using NUTS 3 level is too coarse for Iceland in many instances to reveal geographical differences, since the country is only two regions on that level; the capital region and the rest of the country covering large areas and many urban places of different sizes as well as rural regions, even if there live only about 35% of the population. It was mentioned that Eurostat data and Icelandic data from Statistics Iceland often set the limit but case studies within the countries which has been common in ESPON 2013 sometimes reveal development for smaller regions, often LAU 1. There was discussion indicating interest in developing priority 2 projects with Icelandic participation, such as from municipalities or their associations.

 
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