Nordregio was established by the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) on 1 July 1997. The institution’s Statutes were adopted by the Nordic co-operation ministers on 23 October 1996 and revised on 14 June 2000. Articles 1 and 2 describe the tasks of the Centre and its objectives as follows:
"Nordregio shall develop and communicate relevant knowledge to authorities within regional development and planning in the Nordic countries. The institute shall seek to integrate regional development policy, on the one hand, and physical planning, on the other, with the aim of promoting long-term development.
The institute shall carry out and disseminate contract and thematic research, providing a relevant knowledge base for decision making to politicians and authorities. The institute shall offer continuing education courses for administrators and planners and further develop and update statistical databases.
Nordregio shall work towards becoming the leading European research and educational centre in the field of spatial development."
Nordregio’s task is to elucidate a basis for policy in support of common Nordic interests concerning regional development and planning. Nordregio is to interpret the effects of common challenges with clearly spatial consequences in areas such as globalisation, the eastern expansion of the EU and environmental policy. Nordregio is also to describe and analyse spatial development in the Nordic countries and national policies in this area, for use both within as well as outside of the Nordic countries.
Nordregio operates by viewing knowledge from a variety of policy and professional fields, and from more and one country, in context. This work is characterised by international comparisons, use of comparable data and a holistic perspective. Nordregio is a professional environment for research, documentation, investigation, advice and instruction on spatial development at a Nordic and European level, as a complement to national institutions, and aims at leading in this field.