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Slovenia and Norway sustainble mobility & tourism expert’s exchange: SmartMOVE for future collaboration

  • 12. 9. 2023

Following the SmartMOVE project activities, a series of transnational meetings have taken place in Bodø and Svolvær (Norway) from the 29th of August to the 1st of September 2023. Project partner Nordland Research Institute (NRI) organised a few convergences of project lead partner (RRA LUR) and its main stakeholders from the Slovenian Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Energy and the City of Ljubljana with policy implementor, governance and private sector in Nordland region.  The main aim of the series of meetings organised by NRI was to present current challenges, discuss future plans and plan new projects in the fields of sustainable mobility, sustainable tourism, circular economy, and inclusive spatial planning.

For this dynamic partnership to simulate further international cooperation, it started off with a presentation of the current projects and challenges at the venues of NRI in Bodø.  Research director at Nordland Research Institute (NRI), Bright Dale presented an overview of the institute’s ongoing research on environmental and social topics. Representatives from the Regional development agency of the Ljubljana urban region (RRA LUR) then presented a general overview of regional challenges and projects, and outlined the ongoing work in the SmartMOVE project within the regional mobility goals. Furthermore, Staša Kraljič, expert on sustainable daily mobility and related to tourism, presented current and future aspirations of Slovenian Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Energy (Ministry) in shaping a more sustainable transport policy along with the support of soft measures the field of sustainable mobility, circular economy and tourism. Vita Kontić Bezjak, expert on mobility from City of Ljubljana presented municipal actions, projects and impacts for a greener and prosperous Ljubljana. Following this, other researchers from NRI presented best practices from other relevant research projects, followed by an interactive workshop on potential projects that would pave the way forward.   

As urban planning plays a crucial role in sustainability and since the SmartMOVE project stakeholders are actively involved in reshaping cities to be more sustainable and liveable, the next day offered meetings in the premises of Bodø Municipality. Presentation from Silje Ulriksen Lyngstad, Areal planner within the department for Urban development in Bodø Municipality, focused on innovative green spatial planning strategies for Bodø. The focus was on the integration of green spaces into the urban environments, optimizing land use, and creating eco-friendly infrastructures that harmonize with nature while enhancing the quality of life even beyond Bodø Municipality. The following presentation from Espen Kringlen, Advisor on green construction sites, Department of society and business, Bodø Municipality, enriched our knowledge on broader topics of green procurement and pilot actions in greener construction sites. Both presentations were rounding up with engaging questions and conversation about common challenges in urban settings. After the meetings at the Town Hall, a city walk in Bodø was offered by Jonas Bjørklund, architect and city planner at Bodø Municipality who presented main Bodø urban area developments, projects and future plans for greening of the city. 

Tourism is a powerful catalyst for economic growth, but it also poses environmental and sustainability challenges. As the SmartMOVE project consortium is promoting sustainable activities that preserve the natural and cultural heritage of regions while ensuring the well-being of local communities, the second part of the meting focused on these topics. NRI’s office in Svolvær offered a perfect location in the Lofoten archipelago to present and discuss topics in the area of sustainable tourism, mobility pilots in tourist areas and governance issues of environmentally more challenging areas as Lofoten. Firstly, an exchange of expertise with Torbjørn Ollestad, Municipal manager in Vågan Municipality about urban planning, mobility, tourism and sustainability was being held at the Town Hall. It was followed by presentation by Laura Johanne Olsen, Program Manager from The Green Islands project on main governance, environmental and sustainability challenges in managing Lofoten areas. 

In the offices of Destination Lofoten, the Managing Director Line Renate Samuelsen paved the way for sharing common tourism activities, policies and actions to effectively address tourism and sustainability in environmentally vulnerable areas. Returning to the office of NRI, Trygve Steen, Managing Director of the tourist company XXLofoten shared his experiences about tourism and sustainability, and discussed the realistic observations in private sector on managing sustainably sound tourism on local and global scale. Last day of the NRI visit in Svolvær focused on visiting some of the touristic areas and give us the insights how the local community is struggling to maintain a sustainable tourism, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing accessibility for all tourists and local peoples, and challenging the way people move, setting a new standard for sustainable ways of managing tourism in local communities. 

The SmartMOVE-meeting in Norway presented and positively confronted innovative strategies for responsible local and regional planning that empower both local inhabitants and visiting tourist, ensuring positive environmental and social impacts. Enriching discussions proved the transformative power of international collaboration, and highlighted the opportunities for future cooperation in similar projects. The Slovenian and Norwegian participants expressed great interest in further collaborations on projects that promote sustainable mobility in remote areas, demographic change, circular economy and environmentally sound spatial planning. All parties learned that the power of this diverse collaboration cannot be underestimated, as both areas of Slovenia and Norway are struggling with similar challenges and having various opportunities to improve. In such a collaborative partnership, we can turn the tide on climate change, protect our planet, and build a brighter, more sustainable future for generations to come. 

Take another few-minutes for a great read about the visit from the partner Nordland Reasearch Institute: