Regional Development

Northern Sparsely Populated Areas



The Northern Sparsely Populated Areas (NSPA) was established as collaborative network in 2004 to raise awareness of the common issues and circumstances facing these regions within EU institutions, to influence EU policy and to provide a platform for best practice. The NSPA includes the four northernmost counties of Sweden (Norrbotten, Västerbotten, Jamtland-Härjedalen, and Västernorrland), the seven northernmost and eastern regions of Finland (Lapland, Northern Ostrobothnia, Central Ostrobothnia, Kainuu, North Karelia, Pohjois-Savo and South-Savo) and northern Norway (Finnmark, Troms and Nordland).

The northern sparsely populated areas (NSPA) of Finland, Norway and Sweden are becoming increasingly important to the geopolitical and economic interests of these countries and the European Union (EU). The NSPA regions are located on the periphery of Europe and are part of Europe’s gateway to the Arctic and eastern Russia. A changing climate, access to hydrocarbon and mineral resources, and shifts in relations with Russia are changing the political and economic landscape. The sustainable development of these regions is crucial to managing such strategic risks and opportunities


NSPA Northern lights

© V. Belov/

The OECD has carried out an extensive Territorial Review of the 14 regions which constitute this area. Preliminary findings from the study are being presented to leading politicians and municipal level officials from each of the four NSPA regions in Sweden and representatives from the national government at a Conference in Stockholm, Sweden on 25 November 2016.    


Policy highlights

Cover: NSPA Policy highlights



Download the  Policy Highlights (PDF)