How do you make small towns in rural areas more attractive? This is the central concern of a Baltic Sea INTERREG IVB project that I have been working on. Trans-in-Form brought together partners from Norway, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. Some of them have had to contend with serious loss of population, and especially young people, who move to the capitals or go abroad to work or study and never return. The project has experimented with a range of techniques to engage local politicians, officers and the public in thinking about what scope there is for action – locally, in co-operation together and across similar regions.
Successful regional development can no longer be achieved through top-down public sector action. The skills and resources of the private and voluntary sectors are needed. This also means that planning for regional development must be done in a more inclusive way, less hierarchical and with co-operative networks and partnerships. However, action at regional scale needs also to be aligned to policy at national and transnational scales but also at local scale. These are messages from a new study that looks at regional development practice in four areas – the Randstad in The Netherlands, England’s West Midlands, Zealand in Denmark and Västerbotten in Sweden.
Last week in Cyprus, I was able to get some insights into the development challenges facing this part of Europe. In a snapshot, Mediterranean islands like Cyprus were early cradles of urbanisation and often have a rich archaeological legacy. They were poor agricultural areas until mass tourism began in the 1970s. The boom saw the spread of urban uses along the coasts and around the villages, often undermining of the quality of the places that people were attracted to. Now these places face austerity and threats from climate change.
Amidst all the media coverage of the Greek debt crisis, little attention has been paid to the contribution that local and regional economic development can make to building competitiveness. Of course, the macro-economic policies pursued throughout the long crisis have been formidible barriers to growth. However, the counter-narrative from the enforcers of austerity is that the Greeks have only themselves to blame, even to the point where they need to be punished for electing the "wrong" government and delivering the "wrong" referendum result. Similarly, no media correspondents seem to have strayed far from Athens. Therefore this blog looks at a case study of one peripheral Greek region and traces its efforts to deliver innovation-led growth.
As European leaders vent their anger at the Greeks and threaten (once again) to perform the next act in a protracted tragedy, what became of territorial cohesion? This may sound an esoteric question, but it goes to the heart of the future of the EU.
What kind of regional development actions might boost competitiveness and growth through forging new links with states around the borders of the European Union (EU)? This is the question that will be the focus of a meeting in Cyprus that I am participating in this week. The EU’s European Neighbourhood Policy dates from 2004. Its objective is to avoid “the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and our neighbours and instead strengthen the prosperity, stability and security of all.” What are the pressures and opportunities and how might a place-based approach help?
This blog was first posted on the Planning Resource website on 24 August 2012.
I should have been in Abuja this week to speak at the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners conference on “Building Resilient Cities”. Due to lack of time to get a visa, I could not make it. However, I did write a paper and this blog is a summary of it. It reviews current thinking about the idea of resilient cities. This is a theme I have explored in previous blogs on this site.
The Latvian Presidency of the EU has been pushing the case that towns have an important role to play in territorial cohesion. Key questions are what are the development ppotentials of towns and how can these best be realised? To this end, the ESPON programme has produced a commentary highlighting the main types of urban areas and towns across Europe.
The new ESPON programme will be launched at an event on 3 and 4 June 2015 in the Latvian sea-side town of Jurmala, under the Latvian presidency of the EU. ESPON 2020 will continue the consolidation of a European Territorial Observatory Network and grow the provision and policy use of pan-European, comparable, systematic and reliable territorial evidence. The five specific objectives decided for the period 2015-2020 are:
1. enhanced the production of territorial evidence through applied research and analyses,
2. upgraded knowledge transfer and use of analytical user support,
3. improved territorial observation and tools for territorial analyses,
4. wider outreach and uptake of territorial evidence, and
5. leaner, and more effective and efficient implementation provisions and more proficient programme assistance.
Participation in the event is free and open to all. check www.espon.eu for more information. Tendering of a first round of research projects is likely to begin in the late summer.