ESPON - Looking Towards the Third Period

Nordregio News Issue 4, 2013

Europe

The European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion - ESPON

Since its start in 2002, ESPON has undergone significant development. In the beginning the ambition was to establish a sound database for spatial planners. The first programme, ESPON 2006, mainly consisted of projects that laid the basis for such a database by collecting and producing large amounts of quantitative data. Most of the results were also presented in the form of maps, the so-called ESPON Atlas. Over the years, the ESPON programme has developed towards broader territorial issues, including subjects such as economy, sociology and governance, and also including more and more qualitative elements. Today, the motto is to inspire policy making through territorial evidence. Now preparations for the coming programme, ESPON 2020, are taking place. This is why we in this issue of Nordregio News take a closer look at the past, present and future of ESPON.

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Transnational Co-Production of Territorial Knowledge: The ESPON Experience

By Peter Schmitt & Lukas Smas

The European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion , ESPON, will soon embark on its third programme period. From its start in 2002, ESPON has been conceived of as a knowledge base to support transnational spatial policy-making. The ESPON programme has produced an extensive evidence base of scientific reports, targeted analyses, thematic maps and spatial indicators. More importantly, the ESPON experience has been about the transnational co-production of territorial knowledge.

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The Use of ESPON in a Swedish National and Regional Context

By Sverker Lindblad

The ESPON 2013 Programme is more ambitious and has more funding than the ESPON 2006 Programme. Researchers in Sweden have been very successful both as lead partners and as project partners in securing project funding from ESPON. The use of ESPON-derived knowledge has increased over time at both national and regional levels. Nevertheless, finding a good match between knowledge production and users who can capitalize on that knowledge has been a challenge.

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Towards an ESPON Programme for 2014-2020

By Peter Mehlbye

Preparing the continuation of ESPON has been part of the European cooperation process for quite some time. The general opinion has been very clear that Europe needs territorial evidence to progress territorial cohesion, implement place-based approaches, enhance the territorial dimension in policy, and focus on integrated approaches to territorial development.

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