Photo: Kane Reinholdtsen,


Find all Nordregio Forum 2023 speakers on this page.

Theme: Young Nordics

Tuesday, 17 October, 9:00 - 17:00 GMT (Reykjavik, Iceland)

Ágúst Bogason
Senior Research Advisor, Nordregio

Ágúst is a social researcher with a particular interest in policy and governance of the Nordic countries and Arctic, sustainable rural development, the labour market, local participation in policy processes and tourism studies. He has an academic background in political science and environmental social sciences and favours working on the intersection between research, policy, practice and implementation.

Anna Granath Hansson
Senior Research Fellow, Nordregio

Anna's research focuses mainly on affordable housing. In her current research, she explores how larger cities plan for inclusion of wider groups on the housing market and the tools they use to achieve their goals. Moreover, tenure forms between owning and renting are investigated to unfold their potential contribution to facilitate access by groups that today face difficulties in finding housing such as the young, key workers, lone parents, divorcees and pensioners. In other projects, housing is explored in the contexts of remote work and attractive smaller towns.

Ann-Sofie Backgren
Network coordinator at Finnish Rural Network, Finland

Ann-Sofi Backgren has a background in political science, and at young age went into politics, first at the local level, in the municipality of Korsnäs in Ostrobothnia, Finland. She was elected for 20 years and was chairwoman of the Assembly of the municipality for 12 years. She has also been active in the regional council of Ostrobothnia, in the assembly, at the board and chairwoman of the gender committee. She was for many years also Vice President of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR). Ann-Sofie has been active in rural development issues more or less her whole life, at all the levels. She now works as a network coordinator at Finnish Rural Network (CAP Network) and is a Finnish member of the Thematic Group for Green and inclusive rural development. She has a special interest in history and heritage, and she has been active in the UNESCO world heritage site Kvarken Archipelago.

Annie Linsemark
Gen Z representative / Communications Officer at Community Led Local Development Halland

Annie is a communications professional with a Bachelor's degree in the field. Currently, she serves as a key figure in the communication efforts at CLLD Halland, Sweden. Simultaneously, she actively contributes to rural development through her involvement in several prominent European projects, including Digimedfor, Fliara, and RUSTIK, all coordinated by the ELARD Knowledge Hub. Throughout her career, Annie has led successful communication campaigns, leaving an impact both locally and at the European level. Her passion for rural development has its origins in her formative years when she resided in rural areas and actively engaged in community life. Her dedication to rural development, particularly among young individuals, reached new heights when she took on the role of one of eight project coordinators in RUBREST22, a European project focused on empowering, engaging, and connecting rural youth from various countries. She also assumed the role of head of communication within the project.

Bára Örk
Gen Z representative

Bára is a 22-year-old psychology student at the University of Iceland and is working part-time for Strandabyggð municipality. She has a passion for sustainable development and system change. She is now on the board of the Icelandic Young Environmentalist Association (Ungir Umhverfissinnar) and was previously the chairperson of ReGeneration 2030 and the Youth Delegate of Iceland to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in 2022. She aims to apply social psychology principles to climate action and sustainable development as well as to advocate for change through various means of activism and professional work. 

Carlos Tapia
Senior Research Fellow, Nordregio

Carlos works as Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio since 2020. With a background as regional economist, his research interests revolve around the role of green policies for inclusive territorial development. Dr Tapia has conducted applied research on climate adaptation, green economy, green innovation and circular economy. His current research interests include the social and territorial impacts of climate policies and the implementation of a just green transition in the European and Nordic contexts.

Eva Mærsk
Researcher, University of Southern Denmark

Eva holds a double-degree-Ph.d. from University of Groningen and University of Southern Denmark in cultural geography and sociology. She works as an independent researcher and consultant for Work-Live-Stay and the Interreg project of Cultural Pearls. During her phd she received the Societal Impact Award for excellent communication of academic research to a broader audience. She is excited to work with youth and young adults in the intersection between education, community building, culture, identity, belonging and narratives of place.

Hans-Peter Carlson

Secretary General, MidtSkandia

Hans-Peter has been living in Tärnaby in Sweden for the past 22 years but is originally from Gothenburg. He is the Secretary General of MidtSkandia working with cross border cooperation in the region of Västerbotten (SWE) and Helgeland (NOR), with the goal of pushing in the direction of being “the most integrated and sustainable region in the world by 2030”

Helena Forsgren
Youth 2030 representative

Helena has throughout her career worked for a better, more inclusive future for youths in different ways. She has a strong belief that democracy is better when its bigger, and with that more inclusive. Before she started working for Youth 2030 Movement, she was working with The Swedish Commercial Employees Union (Handelsanställdas förbund) where she was in charge of recruiting new members, the youth section and arranged conferences and courses about relevant topics for our members. Helena has now been with the Youth 2030 Movement for about 3,5 years, and for the past years she has been project manager of their democracy project in rural areas of the north of Sweden, Youth Up North. Financed by Stenbecks Foundation and Ingvar Kamprad's Foundation, the project goal is to build communities, strengthen the rural areas and create an environment that Youth wants to be a part of, influence and live in. The project worked with three municipalities in the north of Sweden Arjeplog, Dorotea and Boden for a better and more vibrant countryside where youths want to live and be a part of their community. 

Laura Peuhkuri

Manager, Regional Council of South Karelia

Laura currently works as a Manager, Regional Development at the Regional Council of South Karelia in Finland. Her academic background is originally in economics (University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, M. Soc. Sc 2000). After 10+ years of working life she has also completed a master’s programme in technology entrepreneurship (LUT University, School of Engineering Sciences, M. Sc. 2013). She is an experienced development professional currently coordinating regional development including regional programs and smart specialisation. She has worked with the Regional Council of South Karelia since spring 2017. The themes of green transition and innovation have been part of her career in various roles, early on mostly serving private companies and industries and later in various strategic development roles. Laura is also interested in the enabling role of new technologies and practices. Currently she is taking part in the work of The Nordic Thematic Group for Green, Innovative and Resilient Nordic Regions.

Leneisja Jungsberg

Senior Research Fellow, Nordregio

Leneisja is specialised in applied research working with national, regional and local stakeholders to support regional development including green transition policies, local business diversification, participatory methods, community development, rural social innovation initiatives and socio-economic assessments. She completed her Ph.D. from Copenhagen University in the field of strategic planning and democratic participation in the Nordic countries. As part of a Northern Periphery and Arctic programme Leneisja worked closely six municipalities’ developing local smart specialisation strategies addressing local green transition and democratic participation. The strategies focus on engaging key stakeholders in questions about how the communities can increase local benefit retention and grow into a greener local economy. Leneisja facilitated several workshops to gather knowledge for developing concrete recommendations to regional planners and policymakers working with Nordic communities with the aim to illustrate possibilities for a green local transition.

Lilja Rannveig

Representative for Althingi, Progressive Party on Iceland

Lilja is 27 year old member of parliament for Framsókn. She started participating in politics at 15 years old and later became a active member in Framsókn´s youth association. Lilja became a deputy member of parliament in 2017 and the chair of the youth association in 2018. In 2021, she was elected as a member of parliament, 25 years old, and is currently the youngest member of parliament. Lilja lives on a sheep farm on the west coast of Iceland. She grew up on the farm, moved to the city for school and later moved back home with her family. In the parliament, she has focused on education, regional issues, families, agriculture, youth participation and employment in rural areas, along with many other things. Lilja is currently the chair of the Future Committee of Althingi. She is also in OSCE, Industrial Affairs Committee and Welfare Committee in the parliament.

Mads Ødegaard Harstad

Gen Z representative

Mads, eighteen years old from Kristiansund Norway, is interested in everything from electronics and astrophysics to youth engagement in politics. He is the leader of his town’s youth council, as well as a member of the regional municipality youth council. Mads has had first-hand experience with youth participation in politics of many varieties, and is proud of the contributions from the youth councils that he's been involved in. He works part time in the youth club established by the youth council, and sees on a weekly basis how much a place like that means to youth in his city, as well as how far engagement from youth can take an idea.

Mari Wøien Meijer

Research Fellow, Nordregio

Mari is a political scientist, with a background in innovation, governance studies and international relations. Having worked at Nordregio for the past six year, she has been engaged in a multitude of projects, working with rural and regional development, including green transition, innovation, resilience, and digitalisation. Her work on cross-border communities amid Covid-19 touches on the very core of Nordic cooperation’s added value. In a more recent project, Mari has also been spending time working with young people to identify the way we can encourage Nordic youth to settle in rural areas.

Snorri Másson

Journalist and podcaster

Snorri is a 26 year old journalist, podcaster and media personality in Iceland, having worked in traditional media for his whole career. He started out at Morgunblaðið, Iceland’s largest daily newspaper, and later moved on to the news site Vísir and Stöð 2, the largest private broadcasting station. Now Snorri hosts a popular podcast Skoðanabræður along with his brother. At the same time he is working on entrepreneurial private projects in the media business. Snorri studied Icelandic studies at the University of Iceland and has previously also worked on youth programs for The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies. He was also previously part of various expert groups for Nordic youth funding programmes of Nordic Culture Point.

Tonje Bjerkan

Managing director, Nordfjordakademiet

Tonje grew up in a small regional town in Norway called Stryn. As most youth in rural Norway, she chose to move to the city for university and later to Australia for a BA in Communications, double major in PR and Film/Video, as well as a MA in Marketing. After 16 years she and her family decided to move back to her hometown. Tonjes career has ranged from retail and sales to being a communication consultant within the mining industry. She has done PR in the product market, and worked in the Deans office for a major Australian university at one of their rural campuses. Today she is part of a new initiative called Nordfjordakademiet. It was created to stand as a point of contact for everyone who wishes to move to, live and work in the region, all while keeping touch with the youth that grows up and moves away for a period of time. By creating the best place for upbringing and connecting youth with local businesses, the aim is for young people to become the region's best ambassadors and increase the ability for them to return in adult life. 

Torunn Kornstad

Project manager, Innlandet County Norway

Torunn is working as a project manager at Innlandet county in Norway. She has a master's degree in agricultural economics, and a management education. Her working career has been in the public sector, at various levels and with different topics. Some examples are business development including green transition, the agricultural sector, state aid, and rural development in the mountain areas. Her main interest has always been the rural districts and how to develop them. She now leads a project whose aim is to develop the rural districts in Innlandet. Kornstad has been a regional representative in the Nordic thematic group for rural development since 2017.