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

The second Iceladnic ESPON seminar has been held on 17th October at University of Akureyri, Iceland.

The second of two ESPON on the Road dissemination seminars in Iceland was organised by University of Akureyri Research Centre and has been held on Friday 17th October. The target groups of this event were members of municipal councils, mayors, MPs, staff of various government and municipal offices and institutions, university staff.

It took place at the conference hall at the Conference hall at University of Akureyri, Iceland.

Place: University of Akureyri, Iceland. Time: 14:00 - 16:00.

Speeches were given by

  • Gretar Thor Eythorsson, Icelandic ECP: Short introduction on the ESPON on the ROAD project
  • Árni Ragnarsson, special advisor from the Icelandic Institute for Regional Development: The ESPON cooperation and Iceland’s participation
  • Grétar Þór Eyþórsson, professor at the University of Akureyri and ECP of Iceland: The ESPON ECP, his role and Icelandic participation in ESPON 2007-2013
  • Hjalti Jóhannesson, researcher at the University of Akureyri Research Centre: ESPON research with Iceland’s participation – what is our experience from them?
  • Reinhard Reynisson, CEO Northeast Iceland Development Agency: European research on regional development and the municipalities

Discussion at this meeting was in many ways similar to the former meeting but local issues and issues relating specifically to rural Iceland were more emphasized. 20 people attended the meeting.The speech given by Mr. Reinhard Reynisson was very well received where he among other things emphasized the importance of research of regional issues and especially the need for applying this research in policy development. He also put an emphasis on the need to focus on the area, e.g. functional areas, instead of focusing on the administrative regions of municipalities which are generally too small units to be meaningful entities in regional research and since Iceland has only two levels of government; the state and the municipalities, the regional level; LAU 1 in Iceland doesn’t have as much relevance in this regard as in many other countries. Much discussion was at the meeting especially around Reinhard´s speech and people wanted to place more emphasis on regional research for policy and that researchers and academics be active in introducing their findings to inform policymaking. It was discussed that the small Icelandic society might hamper balanced and objective discussion of this kind.