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What is The Nordic Region 2020 all about?

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
13.5.2016 11.45
News item

Finland assumed the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers at the beginning of the year. At the same time the project “An Open and Innovative Nordic Region with Healthy People 2020 – Equal Opportunities for Welfare, Culture, Education and Work” was launched.

The project, also called The Nordic Region 2020, runs until 2018. It is a collaboration between the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, and the Ministry of Education and Culture.

In a video interview, Project Manager Kirsi-Marja Lehtelä tells us about The Nordic Region 2020 and its goal to find new ways to maintain welfare and equality in the face of the new challenges present in our society.

Link to the video interview:

Text version of the interview

What is The Nordic Region 2020 all about?

"In the project, we take a closer look at the Nordic welfare states. The idea is to try to find new ways of doing things. Can we for example work towards a more equal society by basing our approach more heavily on multidisciplinary cooperation, involving social services and healthcare, culture, education and working life?"

Why is the project important right now?

"There is a lot going on in the world at the moment. This makes it important to analyse our welfare societies and look at how they function. We should also consider whether there is something we can do better or differently, and whether we have something to learn from one another. The challenges affecting our welfare societies today are partly due to our population structure and how it is developing. In addition, the Nordic model faces constant challenges stemming from global politics and events."

What goals does the project have?

"We want to achieve better substance in Nordic cooperation. One goal is to develop and strengthen the Nordic cooperation structures, by analysing the existing cooperation bodies to see if there is potential for development. We also want to establish networks in the Nordic Region that could be viewed from the outside as a sort of Team Nordic. We may be quite good at certain things in the Nordic region, but it is always a good idea to maintain a dialogue with the rest of the world. We may have something to learn as well."

The project is a part of Finland's presidency of the NCM and runs as a “prioritised project”. What does that mean?

"Prioritised projects are a new form of Nordic cooperation. Only the last two president countries, Denmark and Iceland, have had a prioritised project. Now it is Finland's turn. What it means is that Finland can start a three-year-project in 2016. This gives the work more continuity. Since a prioritised project runs for three years, we have a better chance to see if our ideas carry any further. A project that runs for a longer period of time also has a larger impact on Nordic cooperation."

The project carries on until 2018. What do you think will be achieved by then?

"In three years’ time, I hope we have a clearer image and are able to focus better on the areas we should cooperate in. I also hope we have had time to revise our cooperation structures, and possibly even achieved some development there. Thirdly, I hope we will have a plan for a Team Nordic. By this I mean a network of experts, politicians and other interesting people that we can present internationally as experts in the Nordic welfare model and its development."

Interview: Anne-Sofie Pesola

Video: Kimmo Vainikainen

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