How to deliver quality services to meet the needs of an ageing population with a shrinking budget? And especially, how to do this in remote and sparsely populated areas?
This is the challenge facing the Nordic countries. One of the solutions which we often hear about is Social Innovation. But what exactly is it?
“It’s not easy to tie down”, explains Andrew Copus, researcher at Nordregio. “In essence, it is about new ways of meeting the people’s needs at the grass root level. Often these services are provided by voluntary groups or civil society”, Copus explains. These social innovations help to further strengthen the community.
“In the Nordic context this process is often supported by the public sector, for example through training or grant funding”, Copus states. It seems to be leading to an increase in the “co-production” of welfare services by a combination of the public sector, civil society, and commercial companies. This process of change is particularly tricky in remote areas with sparse population, because the “third sector”, like the population, is thinly spread.
The Social Innovation in the Nordics project focuses on the impact of demographic change. It aims to build up an online resource centre, containing policy overviews good practice example of social innovation in sparsely populated rural regions in the Nordic countries. There are already existing social innovation databases, blogs and communities, like the SIX Nordic that the project will collaborate with. A final workshop will seek to distil policy lessons from the evidence presented some time towards the end of 2016. The project is being carried out on commission by the Nordic Working Group on Demography and Welfare.