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Putting the Territorial Agenda into practice – six pilot actions on their way

2020-07-10 17:23 by Christian Lüer

Actions are needed to turn the words of the Territorial Agenda into deeds, address spatial inequalities as well as the societal transformation towards a carbon and climate-neutral economy, and eventually achieve the objectives of a Just and Green Europe. Actions can be taken at any governance level and vary in character and focus. As the Territorial Agenda addresses different governance levels, its application and implementation relies on informal multilevel cooperation between various players, from local to EU level. Furthermore, actions would benefit from strong linkages with the Urban Agenda, the New Leipzig Charter, EU Cohesion Policy, EU Rural Development Policy as well as EU macro-regional and sea basin strategies.

To inspire actions all across Europe, ‘pilot actions’ show, test and develop practices which contribute to achieving the priorities of the Territorial Agenda. Currently, six pilot actions are under preparation under the lead of Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland. Each pilot action will be joined by partners and players from other European countries. The pilot actions will generate new insights and lessons to be shared at European level to the benefit of all interested parties. In that way they will stimulate further actions to apply the Territorial Agenda.

Altogether, the six pilot actions show a broad spatial and thematic coverage. They address different types of territories – from towns and cities (‘Alpine towns for citizens’, ‘Small places matter’) to rural areas (‘Climate change adaptation and resilience through landscape transition’, ‘A future for lagging regions’) and cross-border regions (‘Territorial vision for a cross-border functional region’). The pilot action ‘Understanding how sector policies shape spatial (im-)balances’ will even be implemented in different types of territories. Furthermore, the six pilot actions cover different priorities under the objectives of a Just and Green Europe. Most pilot actions cover more than one priority and even combine priorities from both objectives. Regarding topics and challenges addressed by the pilot actions, we see a broad range of topics relevant for spatial development – from decarbonisation, resilience and climate change adaptation to territorial impact assessments, participatory governance approaches and vision building.

The six pilot actions will be launched at the informal ministerial meeting in December 2020. Everybody is encouraged to follow them, take inspiration from them and come forward with proposals for new actions. Authorities and other players interested in one of the six pilot actions or developing and implementing new ideas, are invited to take contact via the form on this website.

More specifically…

‘A future for lagging regions’ focuses on sparsely populated areas with limited access to public services, economic and social opportunities. Regions taking part in this pilot action will work on the contribution and added value of spatial strategies in shaping future perspectives for lagging regions and the role of regional planning in the formulation and implementation of relevant sector policies. This pilot action is led by the German Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community.

‘Territorial vision for a cross-border functional region’ aims at aligning spatial planning policy with the European Green Deal. Based on a broad participatory approach involving relevant stakeholders from Luxembourg and neighbouring areas in Belgium, France and Germany, the vision will formulate objectives of an ecologically sustainable, resilient and decarbonised functional region for 2050. Until the end of August 2020, interested players can respond to a call of tenders published by the responsible ministry to provide support in developing this cross-border vision. This pilot action is led by the Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning, Luxembourg.

‘Small places matter’ focuses on the vital role of small towns and villages for balanced and integrated spatial development. It aims at finding new ways and approaches to link the insights and momentum from bottom-up initiatives and top-down planning processes. After an initial phase to ‘harvest’ suitable projects, opportunities will be developed to showcase innovative examples and support network building activities. This pilot action is led by the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, Norway.

‘Understanding how sector policies shape spatial (im-)balances’ aims at creating a better understanding the territorial impact of policies and at designing better future-oriented and place-sensitive policies. For this purpose, new and flexible methodologies for Territorial Impact Assessment (TIA) will be developed and tested in different areas. The outcome of the TIA shall support integrated development strategies at different levels of governance. This pilot action is led by the Polish Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy.

‘Climate change adaptation and resilience through landscape transition’ focuses on integrated climate change adaptation through planning and designing new landscapes, with a particular focus on decreasing the risk of forest fires. Particular emphasis will be put on the role of spatial planning in landscape transformation and interaction with relevant sector policies, incl. the allocation of public funding to increase the resilience of vulnerable rural areas. This pilot action is led by the Portuguese Ministry of Environment and Climate Action.

‘Alpine towns for citizens / Climate adaption in Alpine towns’ aims at designing adaptive and place-sensitive national policies, opportunities for participation in planning processes and low-threshold climate measures. As the pilot action is linked to the Swiss Presidency of the Alpine Convention 2021/2022, it does not only have a strong focus on local development and citizen involvement but also a strong transnational dimension. This pilot action is led by the Swiss Federal Office for Spatial Development.

More information can be found at

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