The Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA) forms a cooperation between nine partner countries including Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, UK, Sweden, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland and Norway. The NPA is a part of the European Territorial Cooperation Objective, also known as Interreg and is supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Despite geographical differences, the regional partners share common features such as low population density, low accessibility, low economic diversity, abundant natural resources, and high impact of climate change. This unique combination of features yields joint challenges and opportunities that can best be overcome and realized through transnational cooperation.
As COVID-19 spread throughout Europe in spring 2020, the NPA monitoring committee agreed to support seven projects dedicated to what has become known as the “NPA COVID-19 Response Call”. Each of these projects address one of five themes aimed at understanding the impact of COVID-19 across the NPA region: (A) Clinical aspects, (B) Health and wellbeing, (C) Technology solution, (D) Citizen engagement/community response and (E) Economic impact and (F) Emerging themes.
In collaboration with Baltic Sea Cluster Development Centre, Voluntās Policy Advisory (Voluntās) is currently involved in the “COVID19-Communities Response and Resilience” project targeting themes “Citizen engagement/community response” as well as “The Economic of Health Service Delivery”.
For the Communities Response and Resilience project, Voluntās are working closely with partners from the Regional Council of Kainuu, Finland; University of Oulu, Finland; Rural Area Partnership, Northern Ireland; NHS Western Isles, Scotland; Leitrim County Council, Ireland and British Red Cross, Shetland to examine the impact, resilience, and responses to COVID-19 on a community level in the NPA area. Collaborating with the Faroese Agricultural Agency has been focused on distributing three different questionnaires across the Faroe Islands. Having now completed the data collection phase, Voluntās will compile a regional report which will ultimately feed into the transnational report comparing findings across six regions.
The “COVID & Economics” project examines economic impacts and responses to COVID-19. It captures innovations and transformations that have taken place as a result of the pandemic, and sets out to create a roadmap for recommendations that will allow for more sustainable and resilient regional/local communities and economies across the NPA. In this project, Voluntās is working with partners from Greenland, Iceland, Faroe Islands and northern Norway in order to gain insight into the effects on COVID-19 on these economies.