Actions putting the Territorial Agenda into practice


The priorities spelled out in the Territorial Agenda 2030 need to be supported by actions from committed players. Only then can Territorial Agenda priorities and concerns over spatial inequalities and the transition towards a carbon/climate-neutral economy be addressed appropriately.


Application of the Territorial Agenda relies on informal multilevel cooperation between Member States, sub-national authorities, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee, the European Investment Bank and other relevant players. Application of the Territorial Agenda would benefit from cooperation with those in charge of the Urban Agenda, the New Leipzig Charter, EU Cohesion and Rural Development Policy, the implementation of the EU Recovery Plan and the EU macro-regional and sea basin strategies.


To inspire joint actions across Europe, pilot actions demonstrate, test and develop practices which contribute to achieving Territorial Agenda priorities. These actions mirror increasing recognition of the importance of place-based policies by showing how the territorial dimension of regional, national and European policies can be actively addressed.


They focus on learning, sharing best practices, joint working groups developing ways forward, or implementation. Everybody is encouraged to closely follow these actions, take inspiration and offer proposals for new actions. Actions addressing priorities of the Urban Agenda, New Leipzig Charter and Territorial Agenda can strengthen links between urban and territorial policies.

Dedicated actions in the making

Pilot Actions Opportunities


Together with the adoption of the Territorial Agenda 2030, six dedicated pilot actions have been launched. They mirror the increasing recognition of the importance of place-based policies by showing how the territorial dimension of regional, national and European policies can be actively addressed. They focus on learning, sharing best practices, joint working groups developing ways forward, and implementation. Everybody is encouraged to closely follow them, take inspiration and come forward with proposals for new actions.


Overview and state of play November/December 2020

A future for lagging regions

A future for lagging regions: Fostering the implementation of spatial strategies


The pilot action ‘A future for lagging regions’ aims to strengthen economic, social and cultural anchor points in structurally weak regions in order to maintain and increase quality of life outside urban areas. Nearby hubs for everyday services in sparsely populated areas play a decisive role for economic development and social well-being at regional level. The pilot action accompanies the implementation of measures of strategic relevance to secure services of general interest on local level, for example in the areas of supply and digitalization. The six participating pilot regions will test ways to effectively establish linkages with sectoral planning activities. In doing so, the pilot action will sustain the implementation of spatially relevant measures and shape local development perspectives for lagging regions.

Europe’s regions are diverse in terms of development conditions and potentials. One of the core priorities of the renewed Territorial Agenda – to strive for more balanced development and more equal living conditions for all regions – is put into practice and translated to the regional and local level through the pilot action on ‘A future for lagging regions’. The pilot action aims to secure services of general interest and strengthen integrated regional development. It contributes to the priority of a ‘Balanced Europe’.


Envisaged activities

The pilot action will include implementation, transfer and upscaling activities.

1) Implementation activities: Hands-on local and regional actions in the field of services of general interest. Based on existing spatial development concepts, integrated and transferable solutions for the provision of public services will be implemented. This includes:

  • the application of digital tools for health care, supply of essential goods and services (‘local marketplace’), mobility, and local communities,
  • strategy-building in local communities through participative approaches,
  • facilitation and evaluation of intermunicipal cooperation, evaluation and improvement of regional governance structures, and
  • evaluation of public strategies aimed at the support of local centres and the provision of public services.

2) Transfer activities: Regions and communities will participate in a European exchange, offering advice to other regions within and beyond the partnership to set up spatial strategies and implement related measures.

3) Upscaling activities: Results and findings on local level will be transferred to policies, plans and programmes on all levels. Such activities will provide good examples to raise awareness of the concerns in lagging regions at national and European levels.


Envisaged lessons / results

Answers to the following questions are envisaged:

  • How can measures of spatial strategies be effectively implemented in order to create perspectives for structurally weak regions?
  • How can regional planning measures be effectively incorporated into sectoral planning and concepts in order to sustain the implementation of spatially relevant measures?


Lead stakeholder

German Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) on behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI), Germany


Indicative partners


The partnership consists of six European regions:

  • Rostock Planning Region, DE
  • Schleswig-Flensburg District, DE
  • Görlitz District, DE
  • Alentejo CCDR, PT
  • Land Vorarlberg / Walgau Region, AT
  • French region (tbc)

The European Commission (DG REGIO) has expressed their interest to act as an associated partner. Further associated partners will join the partnership.


Time planning

The pilot action will be implemented in two main phases:

  • Joint work on further refining the pilot action (December 2020 until May 2021), followed by a kick-off event.
  • Implementation of the pilot action (May 2021 – September 2023): Coordinating and supporting the implementation activities in the participating regions, partner meetings and a final event.

For more information, please contact: Sina Redlich (

Understanding how sector policies shape spatial (im)balances

Region-focused Territorial Impact Assessment


Inequalities between places and people are prominent in development discourses around the European Union, with notions such as ‘places that don’t matter’ or ‘places left behind’ or ‘the geography of discontent’. The ‘Region-focused Territorial Impact Assessment (TIA)’ pilot action aims to better understand how different sectoral policies can shape spatial imbalances, focusing in particular on areas left behind and bringing the local levels to the forefront. By developing a better understanding of policy impacts on territories, better policies can be designed in future which are place sensitive and address more effectively the needs of communities and citizens.

The Territorial Agenda 2030 addresses inequalities between places and people and advocates for a future for all places. The action aims to create a better understanding policy impacts on territories to design better policies that are place-sensitive and address the needs of communities and citizens. Instead of implementing different TIAs across different territories and eventually comparing their outcomes, the rationale builds on existing TIA methodologies and aims to develop and test the right blend of those that best serve the purpose of the pilot action. The pilot action builds on three innovative ideas. First, the focus of the TIA starts from the characteristics and needs of the territory and agreed development goals. Different types of territories can be included, e.g. urban, rural, cross-border areas to look at effects beyond borders. Second, the TIA aims to support integrated territorial development strategies at different levels of governance. Lastly, it aims to involve local and regional players in implementation.


Envisaged activities

The process of the ‘Region-focused Territorial Impact Assessment’ has three main phases:

  • Phase 1: Collecting showcase examples and introducing them to the participating stakeholders (incl. review of existing TIA methodologies and the impact policies on the indicated areas and types of territories).
  • Phase 2: Developing a flexible methodology for a tailor-made TIA, building on the results of phase 1.
  • Phase 3: Implementing the methodology in case study areas.

The pilot action combines joint and individual activities for the partners involved in the case study areas, including input on experiences, workshops, and verification of methods to the involvement of joint coordination experts.


Envisaged lessons / results

A general methodology will be designed, which will serve as a basis for territorially adjusted approaches in each partner State. Thus, the methodology is a base to be adapted according to the different needs of the partners, e.g. ex-ante vs. ex-post vs. ongoing; strategy vs. funding instrument; different degrees of territorial sensitivity; several policies that are interrelated vs. one policy. The aim of the methodology is to be as simple and flexible as possible and adaptable to specific needs. Coordinating the different adjustments may be challenging, given the different stakeholders involved, different policies, types of strategy etc. To facilitate the process, the general methodology will also give advice for the required elements depending on the respective focus. Further reflections on the envisaged results include:

  • Learning about territorial impacts of different sector policies on specific territories, as well as learning about the specific needs of different territories and the variety and usefulness of different methodologies.
  • Connections will be developed through capacity building and networks between the participating local and regional stakeholders. With a view to covering the territorial impacts of sector policies, connections will be developed between policies.
  • The pilot action demonstrates how to usefully apply and work with the Territorial Agenda and its priorities. In particular, the pilot action can identify areas of good practice, such as increasing the capacity building of different ministries representing the different sectoral policies at hand.
  • Communication will contribute to dissemination, which will be achieved through cooperation with multiplier institutions.
  • Implementation is addressed by the pilot action’s aim to develop an easy-to-use TIA methodology ‘blend’ that can be used by the partners in their respective countries and regions and also be applied to others.


Lead stakeholder

Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy, Poland


Indicative partners

Partner states are Poland (lead), Germany, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and The Netherlands. Additional cooperation partners are the European Commission, the European Committee of the Regions and ESPON, furthermore, partners from different governance levels in interested regions of the participating countries.


Time planning

The pilot action is envisaged to run from January 2021 until the second half of 2022.


For more information, please contact: Patrycja Artymowska (;

Small places matter

Understanding how small places can boost their role for the development of a wider territory


Small and medium-sized places are an important pillar of Europe’s territorial DNA and home to a large part of Europe’s population. The pilot action’s focus is on the vital role of small towns and villages in the development of integrated territorial development processes, strengthening the territorial coordination of policies and cooperation between territories. The work addresses the questions: how can the Territorial Agenda become relevant for small places; and how can small places be ‘boosted’ in their role for territorial development? Of particular importance to the pilot action is finding new ways to strengthen the link between insights and momentum from bottom-up/local initiatives and top-down planning processes in relation to demographic change in small places and boosting their attractiveness to younger people either staying in the area or moving into it.

The pilot action directly engages with a number of priorities set out in the Territorial Agenda 2030, including ‘Balanced Europe’ and ‘Functional Regions’. More specific links are with the aims: to encourage all area types to cooperate on improving conditions in all areas, recognise the potential in areas with specific geographies (in this case more remote areas), and support dialogue with decision makers in towns of all sizes to apply an integrated multilevel governance approach.

The pilot action addresses key challenges set out in the Territorial Agenda 2030, in particular demographic and societal imbalances, and quality of life. The pilot action’s focus on the vital role of small towns and villages in the development of integrated territorial development processes also strengthens territorial coordination of policies and cooperation between territories, which are key elements of putting the Territorial Agenda 2030 into action.


Envisaged activities

The envisaged activities include:

  • an initial meeting to exchange ideas and refine the focus between interested stakeholders,
  • a phase to ‘harvest’ projects, identifying existing areas of relevant activity,
  • followed by opportunities to showcase examples and network building activities.

As experienced in one of the selected projects, there is an opportunity to build a ‘cavalcade network’, which would be dynamic and evolving rather than a fixed partnership. Particular areas of interest already identified are around the issue of fostering educational and business links to boost the attractiveness of small towns, through working cross-sectorally to build capacity for local skills and jobs, and address territorial needs.

Partner exchanges have the potential to develop specific areas of interest to be followed up through targeted analyses in ESPON or Interreg projects, or working in new ways, e.g. through engagement with macroregional strategies and integrated territorial instruments.


Envisaged lessons / results

Key lessons/results from the pilot actions include the following elements:

First, the pilot action will identify practical tools and approaches to address specific issues linked to demographic change in small places and boosting their attractiveness to younger people either staying in the area or moving into it.

Second, the pilot action will highlight the importance of recognising and capitalising on existing activities and interactions in mobilising the Territorial Agenda. For example, Interreg programmes have already supported relevant projects. Their value and impact could be amplified through opportunities for wider exchange and support for capitalisation of their activities.

Third, the pilot action will support better policy making, better linking the value in bottom-up, locally-oriented initiatives with regional and national level policy/strategy development and better mapping challenges and solutions, with a view to informing policy. It would also address an identified development gap which is not being addressed successfully either through market interventions or traditional regional policy interventions and demands new thinking, solutions and activities.

Finally, the pilot action offers the scope to look to the future and consider how the COVID-19 crisis could inform thinking on small places responding to change, the desirability of more balanced development and the role of small places.


Lead stakeholder

Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, Norway


Indicative partners

Partner contacts have been identified in Germany, Poland, Finland, Ireland and Switzerland, and also the European Commission (DG REGIO and DG AGRI).

In addition, regional administrations in Norway have expressed an interest in the pilot action and links identified to a number of relevant project actions in the Baltic Sea Programme, Urbact, ESPON and Interreg Europe.


Time planning

The pilot action is expected to run for a period of 2-3 years, i.e. until 2022 or 2023.


For more information, please contact: Jan Edøy (

Cross-border spatial planning

A vision for a zero-carbon cross-border functional region


The Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning of Luxembourg is currently revising the Master Programme for Spatial Planning. This new version of the main spatial planning document will include guidelines for short to mid-term future development of the Luxembourgish territory (time horizon 2035) and strategic orientations for its long-term future development (time horizon 2050). As an input for these strategic orientations, the Ministry wants to develop a territorial vision for the ecological transition of the cross-border functional region of Luxembourg until 2050 based on the principles of decarbonisation and resilience in a process called ‘Luxembourg in Transition’. Showcasing this process, the Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning of Luxembourg would like to set up a pilot action to initiate a mutual learning process with partners from across Europe and allow for the transfer of this specific methodology of cross-border territorial visioning in other cross-border regions

The pilot action based on ‘Luxembourg in Transition’ consists of a learning process. It allows for the transfer of a methodology for cross-border territorial visioning to other areas in Europe. The visioning process as well as the pilot action contribute to the priority of ‘Integration beyond borders’. With the thematic focus of decarbonisation and resilience, it furthermore aims at aligning spatial policy with the European Green Deal and the Just Transition Mechanism, thus contributing to the priority of ‘Healthy environment’.

Together with stakeholders from the cross-border region, the Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning launched the ‘Luxembourg in Transition’ process in October 2020. It is based on a cooperative competition with 10 international multidisciplinary expert teams developing territorial visions and implementation strategies with concrete projects for a decarbonised resilient cross-border functional region in 2050. After methodological framework will have been developed (Oct. 2020 – Jan. 2021), it will be adapted to the territorial context of cross-border functional region (Feb. 2021 – June 2021). Finally, a vision and demonstration projects will be developed (June 2021 – Dec. 2021). Public participation plays a vital role throughout the whole process, with a citizen advisory committee involved in the decision-making process. Key questions are:

  • How to develop a joint territorial vision for a zero-carbon cross-border functional region based on soft territorial cooperation?
  • How to translate such a territorial vision into concrete objectives, strategies and measures on both sides of the border?
  • How to tackle the cross-border dimension of a territorial vision based on decarbonisation and resilience?


Envisaged activities

The pilot action is going to run in two main phases, each with specific activities:

Phase 1 (Dec. 2020 – Feb. 2022): The objective of the pilot action is for partners to exchange, comment on, and learn from the methodology. While this territorial visioning process is ongoing, the Ministry will share relevant documents with the partners, present the different steps of the process and organise regular (online) meetings to discuss them. This will give partners an opportunity to critically assess and learn from this territorial visioning process.

Phase 2 (Feb. 2022 – Dec. 2022): Based on lessons and experience, partners will develop a guidance note for the potential transfer of the methodology. The guidance note will describe the different steps of the process and offer lessons. One possibility is to present this guidance note at a closing event or conference on cross-border territorial visioning.


Envisaged lessons / results

The idea of the pilot action is to share experience and facilitate the transfer of the methodology of ‘Luxembourg in Transition’. The central output will be a guidance note concerning the potential transfer of the methodology. Ideally, the experiences, exchanges and lessons learned from this process could motivate the development of cross-border territorial visions in other parts of Europe.


Lead stakeholder

Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning, Luxembourg


Indicative partners

In the framework of ‘Luxembourg in Transition’, the Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning of Luxembourg works closely together with stakeholders from Luxembourg as well the neighbouring countries of Belgium, France and Germany. For the pilot action, the Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning of Luxembourg would like to set up a partnership with interested parties from other countries at the local, regional, national, cross-border or transnational level.

Tentative expressions of interest have already been received from the European Commission (DG REGIO), Switzerland, and Portugal. The Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning of Luxembourg would also like to integrate relevant cross-border organisations and stakeholders in the first phase of the pilot action in order to cooperate with them as potential multipliers in the second phase.


Time planning

The visioning process of ‘Luxembourg in Transition’ is going to run in three stages from October 2020 until December 2021. In parallel, the pilot action is going to run in two phases from December 2020 until December 2022.


For more information, please contact: Frederick-Christoph Richters (

Climate action in Alpine towns

Climate action in Alpine Towns


Perceptions of the Alps are often rather rural than urban, even though around one third of Alpine inhabitants live in densely populated towns. This pilot action will be developed under the Swiss Presidency of the Alpine Convention in 2021/2022. The goal is to show the potential and importance of low-threshold climate action in spatial planning. The project wants to empower Alpine towns and their citizens to develop new ideas and provide a solid ground for “bottom-up” actions. The pilot wants to inspire municipalities in combining long-term climate measures with quick action: this will improve communication and builds acceptance and knowledge.

A built environment that produces low emissions plays a key role for a positive future. This pilot wants to link spatial development with climate issues more strongly, contributing to the objective of a green Europe. The aim is to bring civil society, municipalities and civil servants together, contributing to the objective of a just Europe. The pilot action wants to show how municipalities can implement low-threshold and quick climate action by building on local potential. Encouraging local cooperation and coordination will increase the support for place-based and sustainable solutions by the whole society. These actions can pave the way for the long-term climate strategies in spatial planning that are often too complex to communicate or that remain “invisible”. Long-term impacts shall arise from the pilot action by building on existing resources, bottom-up actions and providing a sound framework with well-established networks in the Alpine area and beyond. The pilot action relies strongly on partners in the field (i.e. Alpine Town of the Year Association and its member towns). Therefore, the geographic scope was limited to the Alps and Alpine towns. The process and results shall be applicable to all territories and will be disseminated in wider networks (e.g. the European Commission).


Envisaged activities

‘Climate action in Alpine towns’ will deliver a tailor-made support framework to allow the participating Alpine towns to experiment and test approaches for citizen participation in relation to climate change adaptation or mitigation in ongoing planning processes. The pilot action will help the towns to improve methods and practices in the fields of citizen involvement, spatial planning and climate change by experimenting with new approaches and exchanging with the other towns. The following steps are foreseen:

  • Identify suitable towns: Start date for project activities in the first group of towns will be by the end of 2020 and for the second group in spring 2021.
  • Create local project teams: Set up of a project team consisting of representatives of the Alpine towns, young citizens, experts and other interested and relevant persons.
  • Support local planning processes: First, identify a relevant climate challenge in spatial planning which benefits from citizen involvement. Second, develop and implement a suitable planning and participation process with the local project team. It should be possible to address the identified climate challenge and develop spatial planning solutions for the local context with the involved citizens.

Anticipated outputs can range from developing strategies for the transformation of specific areas to small-scale actions. Primarily working on local level, the pilot action also seeks to reduce negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Envisaged lessons / results

Outputs of the pilot action are diverse, depending on the town’s needs: e.g. strategies, re-designing public spaces, tree planting, mobility measures, or awareness raising activities on specific issues. In the end, the partners would like to answer the following questions:

  • How can we develop low-threshold climate action in spatial planning?
  • How can we involve civil society more carefully in planning processes that relate to climate action?
  • How does the involvement change the awareness of citizens for a healthy environment in their town? How does this affect the perception of quality of life and the acceptance of climate adaption/mitigation measures?
  • How should climate policies and strategies be adapted to the particular territory and culture? Could the Alps become a model region?


Lead stakeholder

Federal Office for Spatial Development ARE, Switzerland


Indicative partners

Partners are Switzerland (lead), Austria, Germany, Norway, Slovenia, the European Commission and the Alpine Convention. The Alpine Towns of the Year Association and selected Alpine towns will play a key role in implementation.


Time planning

Start in January 2021 and scheduled conclusion by the end of 2022.


For more information, please contact: Marc Pfister (

Climate change adaptation and resilience through landscape transition

Climate change adaptation and resilience through landscape transition


In recent years, Portugal suffered major wildfires that severely affected rural areas already subject to socio-demographic and economic decline processes. As a political response, the country adopted policy measures aiming to ‘value’ the territory through landscape transition and territorial revitalisation of rural areas. These policy measures were developed and are being implemented within the legal framework of the National Spatial Planning Policy Programme (PNPOT), approved in 2019, alongside the Landscape Transformation Programme (PTP), approved in 2020. Against this background, the pilot action ‘Climate change adaptation and resilience through landscape transition’, led by the Portuguese Ministry for the Environment and Climate Action, aims to develop experimental, integrated approaches for vulnerable rural areas in decline. The pilot action aims at building a long-term commitment across all levels of governance, better regulation and implementation plans, and better synergies and complementarity between EU and national funding mechanisms.

The pilot action focuses on integrated climate change adaptation and environmental, social and economic resilience, through planning and design for a new landscape, decreasing the risk and the effects of disasters like severe wildfires. This involves integrating climate change adaptation and territorial resilience, funding ecosystem services, promoting sustainable value chains and developing innovative governance approaches for planning systems and relevant policy and stakeholder’s engagement. Linking to the Territorial Agenda 2030, the pilot action addresses the importance of well-functioning and resilient ecosystems for the mitigation of the impact of climate change, and the essential role of integrated management and cooperation beyond administrative boundaries. This pilot action is, therefore, closely related to the priorities: ‘Functional regions’ under the objective Just Europe and ‘Healthy environment’ under Green Europe, also meeting the EU initiative Long-term Vision for Rural Areas.


Envisaged activities

Activities will focus on the role of spatial planning in landscape transition and the need to consider the resilience of rural areas and long-term commitment of the actors evolved. The pilot action seeks to strengthen the interaction between spatial planning and other relevant sectoral policies, e.g. agricultural and forestry, through an integrated and holistic landscape perspective. The pilot action addresses the allocation of public funding for sectoral policies and how they promote territorial resilience, and, crucially, develops a sense of active stakeholder participation in the process, as they are the real ‘landscape transformation agents’. Concrete activities will involve various outputs such as conferences, workshops, meetings, visits, data collection through observation and stakeholder groups, communication and dissemination activities. Monitoring reports and recommendations to accompany the implementation process and to prepare for 2021 will also be discussed.


Envisaged lessons / results

The pilot action has four thematic priorities for a landscape transition approach:

  • Integrating climate change adaptation and resilience: Territories need to be better prepared for extreme events. Risks such as wildfires, loss of biodiversity and reduction in agricultural productivity become higher and more
  • Fostering ecosystem services and the green economy: Biodiversity must be considered a heritage component and an asset in danger of irreversible losses that must be defended and protected.
  • Mobilising endogenous resources and improving natural capital valorisation: Natural capital must be pursued as a differentiating and enhancing factor.
  • Building innovative processes of governance and stakeholder engagement in a long-term perspective: Landscape transition takes

The Landscape Planning and Management Programme for Serras de Monchique and Silves, in the Algarve in southern Portugal, is one of the case studies that inspire this pilot action. This case study will

  • test solutions for transforming rural areas that stand out as particularly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters,
  • test how functional relations embedded in rural landscapes can be the basis for integrated planning and place-based governance,
  • boost local economies through a landscape transition process, and
  • deliver tailor-made public policies.

The pilot action will also integrate the results within the framework of the ESPON project ‘Territorial Impacts of Natural Disasters’ (TITAN-SOPORT).


Lead stakeholder

Ministry for the Environment and Climate Action, Portugal  


Indicative partners

From Portugal: Stakeholders from different administrative levels and sector policies, regional and local stakeholders and universities. Partners from other countries are still welcome to join, e.g. from Croatia, Greece and Spain (tbc).


Time planning

The implementation phase is in preparation. It will start in 2021.


For more information, please contact: Patrícia Moreira (

Learning from ongoing examples


Applying the Territorial Agenda 2030 may appear demanding but it is important to note that significant benefits are already being achieved through the strategic use of existing resources. Governance structures can determine the optimal mix of investment priorities and achieve the necessary vertical and horizontal coordination to design and deliver integrated development strategies. Different geographical approaches, for example via functional urban areas, cross-border areas, urban-rural linkages etc., can develop innovative solutions to common challenges and unlock new potentials. Opening up the process of developing policy interventions to a broader range of territorial stakeholders can identify new ideas, financial sources and administrative capacities.

Examples for a territorial approach in policy design and delivery

Against this background, the report 'Implementing the Territorial Agenda 2030: Examples for a territorial approach in policy design and delivery' highlights previous or existing projects, initiatives and instruments that pursue a territorial approach. Its objectives are to demonstrate what has already been achieved, raise awareness of the benefits gained, and provide insights for pursuing the Territorial Agenda in practice. It covers 52 examples, presented in the report’s annex, that were collected across Europe from a variety of thematic, institutional and geographical contexts. These were selected to illustrate different aspects of the territorial approach in policy design and delivery and draw out key insights rather than demonstrate best practices. The examples portray the diversity of ongoing activities, yet all have implicit or explicit linkages with the objectives and priorities of the Territorial Agenda 2030.