ESPON Workshop

“Green Economy in European Regions?”


Brussels, 29 September 2014

Timing: 09h30 – 16h00


European territories and regions differ in their pre-conditions for a transition towards a greener economy and also in the magnitude of possible effects. Subsequently, tailored policies are needed that can most efficiently transition these characteristics into qualities of green regional economies.

Territorial Cohesion suggests the need to pay attention to territorial impacts, territorial differences and performance when designing and implementing sectoral policies. In line with this, the European Commission has the ambition to mainstream green economy objectives into all policy areas including the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy, Cohesion Policy, energy infrastructure and trans-European networks, measures addressing the world markets for commodities and raw materials, water policies or climate change adaptation policies.

Furthermore, the Europe 2020 Strategy can be seen as a strategy bridging the economy (the current crisis), the environment (climate change, energy scarcity and ecosystem degradation) and society (the need for cohesion). As such, Europe 2020 calls for “smart, sustainable (green) and inclusive growth” to simultaneously propel a long-term and sustainable vision of development for the EU. The Sustainable Growth priority includes aims to promote a more resource efficient, greener and competitive economy. The strategy reflects that economic growth is crucial to economic recovery and to an increase of Europe’s competitiveness. However, it further stresses that growth needs to be sustainable.

DSC00095 DSC00102
DSC00103 DSC00109


Aim and structure

Against this backdrop, the workshop intended to present and discuss the recent and future relevance of the green economy in the territorial development of European regions. The workshop included territorial evidence that has been produced by the ESPON GREECO project ‘Territorial Potentials for a Greener Economy’and an ESPONEvidence Brief No.10 on “Understanding Green Economy”.

The evidence on the transition of the European territory and its performance towards a green economy was discussed. By doing so, territorial potentials contributing to restore economic balance and create employment were addressed. Furthermore, concrete examples from sector and case study analyses informed on green growth processes and the effectiveness of policies related to the green economy.

An interactive discussion ending the workshop addressed investments needed to strengthen the performance and diversity of potentials of the green economy in European regions, taking into account examples from national and regional policies as well as territorial strategies. This session was informed by policy makers, experts as well as scientists and was followed by a discussion involving all participants.


DSC00114 DSC00119
DSC00124 DSC00133



Broad conclusions from the day

  • The green economy is touching social, economic and environmental aspects, being of relevance for urban as well as rural, for densely as well as sparsely populated regions, covering different sectors, while at the same time having a high demand for good governance in order to utilise potentials in the best possible way.
  • Training, capacity building and awareness rising of various local and private actors as well as citizens are highly relevant levers to be considered by policy makers when supporting green economic development.
  • Green growth is an opportunity for all types of regions and can be a strategic option for regions with a stalling economy and restructuring of local industries. Nevertheless, a very uneven territorial development of the green economy might be envisaged in the future because regions are inherently diverse. All regions have potential for green growth no matter of their territorial development status. However, territorial factors condition the economic development potential based on green(er) activities.
  • As territories are diversely endowed to start and consolidate transitions to a greener economy, “greening strategies” should be place-based and tailor-made (just as they need to be sector-specific). High complexity of the green economy creates challenges for just replicating success stories. The diversity of regions and structures needs to be considered in the strategic approaches.
  • Participants considered that regional policy priorities, governance and management capacities are not sufficiently in place today. Very few regions can be identified that have a clear green economic strategic approach.
  • The green economy opens up for new value chains. In order to utilise green economic advantages, strategy building at the regional/local level is of high relevance. To set up a regional strategy three steps seem to be of relevance (1) taking stock of regional capital, (2) creating an operational framework, (3) setting-up a sound investment plan. In order to know where you want to go in the future you need to know who you are!
  • Local and regional authorities can support and facilitate the development of sustainable economic development strategies by (1) developing networks/clusters based on local and regional strengths including for example education, research and enterprises, (2) support the development of identity and branding, (3) support the development of sustainable local and regional value chains including new models of investment.
  • Actors at regional level have an important leverage in the field of innovation through the Regional Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3).
  • Local government set the context within which to inspire and guide new inclusive green businesses. Funding and supporting such work can, if well designed, bring savings and benefits later.
  • However, today some lack of connection between businesses and policy makers in municipalities can be identified related to greening the economy. A future task will be to establish close cooperation, use existing information together with local companies about their possible gains in this process as well as win-win opportunities for the businesses, the local economy and the environment.
  • Globally, Europe has a competitive advantage in exploiting renewable energy sources and in energy efficiency technologies, both of which need continuous support to be explored and maintained. At the same time there is still an untapped potential for industrial symbiosis approaches. Considering also that scarcity of resources is a driver for companies to search for green economic approaches and to set up company driven networks.
  • Moving towards a green economy is a learning process, that needs dialogue and transparency and needs to be well organised to be able to deliver concrete results.


DSC00138 DSC00143
DSC00144 DSC00145


Further information

Please find below the draft programme of the workshop and the presentations.

Photos: courtesy Stefano Smiroldo, trainee at the ESPON Coordination Unit.

More photos are available in the next page.

Contact the ESPON Coordination Unit ([email protected]) for additional details.


This Workshop is organised within the framework of the

ESPON 2014 Capitalisation Strategy / Actions related to European Seminars and Workshops

“Green Economy in European Regions?”

Brussels, 29 September 2014

Timing: 09h30 – 16h00

DSC00095 DSC00098
DSC00101 DSC00102
DSC00103 DSC00105
DSC00109 DSC00110
DSC00112 DSC00114
DSC00116 DSC00119
DSC00122 DSC00124
DSC00125 DSC00128
DSC00130 DSC00133
DSC00135 DSC00138
DSC00143 DSC00144
DSC00145 DSC00146



  • Acrobat Document | 299KB

Practical information

  • Acrobat Document | 176KB


  • Acrobat Document | 71KB

Andrea Bassi

  • Acrobat Document | 1.95MB

Albane Demblans

  • Acrobat Document | 190KB

Wolfgang Teubner

  • Acrobat Document | 1.98MB

Anders Chr. Hansen

  • Acrobat Document | 2.19MB

Rasmus Ole Rasmussen

  • Acrobat Document | 606KB

Carlos Tapia

  • Acrobat Document | 1.64MB

Anna Berlina

  • Acrobat Document | 502KB

Mette Skovbjerg

  • Acrobat Document | 683KB

Ruslan Zhechkov

  • Acrobat Document | 196KB

Marja Nissinen

  • Acrobat Document | 322KB

Begoña Vicente

  • Acrobat Document | 505KB