Sustainable Urban and Rural Planning

The pace of urbanization in Sweden continues to be fast, and we are about to face major demographic changes. Alongside these trends, rapid technological development places additional demands on urban planning. In order to contribute to the debate with new insights, SNS has launched a research project on building societies through urban planning.

The population is growing and concentrated in metropolitan areas

There are indications that the majority of new jobs will be in the services sector, which is predominately based in Sweden’s larger cities. The concentration of these jobs in urban centers contributes to a large population increase in those areas. More people will also have longer commuting distances to work and school. In order to ensure competitiveness, geographic mobility, and quality of life, Sweden needs a functioning housing market and the right investments in infrastructure and public services. This requires financing and access to the right resources. Investment in these areas affects everything from the environment and innovation potential of a city to the health, equality, safety, and employment of its residents. It is therefore important to be concrete and weigh different priorities as cities expand.

Technical development places new demands on city planning

Rapid technological developments coupled with increased internationalisation lead to tougher foreign competition for Swedish companies. Trade is becoming digitalized, and a larger share of our consumption is being done online. Ambitious environmental regulations create a demand for new technical solutions in the area of transport, such as electric vehicles.

Cooperation between the city, municipality, and region

Different public sector actors may have contradictory goals, and decision-makers at any given level in the public sector do not necessarily have the means required to meet their own goals. These problems raise questions of coordination. Does Sweden, for example, need a stronger national urban plan, or more oversight of its transport system?

Financing and investment in human and real capital

Another important issue is how to finance housing construction and infrastructure projects. Financing opportunities can differ depending on whether state, regional, or local actors are steering the project. Another issue is the extent to which the business community and pension funds should contribute to financing housing and infrastructure. For firms in several industries, including construction and transport, it is difficult to recruit skilled workers. There are also signs that businesses are taking greater responsibility for vocational training and certification in order to fill their vacancies.

About the project

Publications

SNS Research Brief 58. Cities and Big Data
How does public infrastructure affect employment and economic growth?

On-going studies

Rent control in Sweden

Fredrik Kopsch, Senior Lecturer at the Real Estate Science Department at Lund University. Preliminary publication in September 2019.

How can we reduce emissions from the transportation sector? The government’s role and challenges

Maria Börjesson, professor in Transport Economics at the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI). Preliminary publication in November 2019.

Time frame

The project started in 2019 and continues for 3 years.

Contacts

Research director: Thérèse Lind, therese.lind@sns.se, +46 (0) 739 87 19 11.
Project manager: Gustav Peldán Carlsson, gustav.peldan@sns.se, +46 (0) 722 51 57 98.