Ensuring Thriving Northern Towns for Young People: a Best Practices Guide

This best practices guide puts forward ways in which northern towns and municipalities could become more attractive places for young people, encouraging them to stay in or return to their home communities and settle there. The recommendations are based on our work with young people living in northern Finland and Russia and on their understandings of wellbeing and the elements of a satisfying life.

Various structural conditions in Finland’s and Russia’s North continue to prompt young people to leave their rural birthplaces. The shortcomings cited include limited choice of opportunities to pursue an education and find employment as well as a lack of services, entertainment and adequate transportation. On the other hand, young people have mentioned a number of positive aspects that make living in their northern home regions attractive, examples being the clean and peaceful nature, the possibilities for various nature-based activities and the convenience and comfort of living in small places in comparison to big, metropolitan areas.

In the following list of recommendations, we discuss the various ways in which northern communities could improve the wellbeing of their young residents. The best practices chosen here are the results of observations from our field sites in both countries and reflect the specific characteristics of each country and town. The Finnish sites are Kolari, Kemijärvi, and Pyhäjoki; the Russian sites are Kovdor, Revda, Polyarnye Zori, Kirovsk, Novy Urengoy, Neryungri, Nizhnyi Kuranakh, and Tiksi.