Territorial Monitoring: Better Knowledge for Sounder Policies?

What is territorial monitoring – and who is making use of all the available evidence from monitoring systems in Europe today? How should researchers and practitioners work together to ensure that monitoring stays relevant, timely and easy to absorb by those who may benefit from better knowledge about territorial structures and dynamics? In this issue of Nordregio News, we take a tour of territorial monitoring – looking at conceptual, practical and applied aspects of producing and using such knowledge.

For a long time, the monitoring of territorial trends and structures has been a preoccupation of economists, engineers, geographers and social scientists in general. Monitoring has both an academic and political outreach. In recent years, the motto regarding the need for statistical information to support evidence-based policymaking has been "the more we know the better". While building extensive datasets takes time and resources, there has been an increasing need to keep such statistical evidence policy relevant, timely and accessible to the widest spectrum of policymaking in Europe. A further challenge is to combine the inherent complexities of understanding territorial dynamics, with the need for simple messages.

Nordregio has been involved in many projects providing such a statistical basis for evidence-based policymaking, in Europe and in the Nordic Region. A number of Nordregio projects have focused explicitly on developing territorial monitoring systems, including ESPON INTERCO, TeMo and ETMS, which were specifically designed to produce tailor-made monitoring reports about territorial development and cohesion.

In the first article of this issue, How to Monitor Territorial Dynamics, we set out to explain some of the most important conceptual and practical underpinnings of territorial monitoring systems. What is monitoring, how is it tailored, and what is the future of monitoring and design of monitoring output in the world of digital platforms and easily accessible information?

The second contribution by Tomas Hanell, Territorial Cohesion in the Baltic Sea Region, uses a case to describe how results from an indicator based monitoring system can be made accessible and useful for policy making in the Baltic Sea Region.

Finally, Odd Godal provides some reflections from the user's point of view. The article, Monitoring of Territorial Cohesion, discusses how evidence from thematic projects as well as specific monitoring systems can be utilised in both the national Norwegian planning context, and for international discussions.

We hope that this mix of articles offers interesting insight into the world of territorial monitoring. And we wish you pleasant reading!

Gunnar Lindberg

Senior Research Fellow

Alexandre Dubois

Senior Research Fellow

and the Editorial Board

Back to Nordregio News Issue 2, 2014