21 Sep 2015

This is a guest post by RSA Student Representative, Eduardo Oliveira. He is a Ph.D. Candidate in strategic spatial planning & place branding at the Department of Spatial Planning, University of Groningen, the Netherlands.
I am quite sure that the readers of this blog and my fellow colleagues are aware of the myriad of publications offered by Regional Studies Association (see the list here). RSRS is an interdisciplinary open access journal from the Regional Studies Association which offers to potential authors the opportunity to reach as wide an audience as possible through the open access publishing route. This open access means that the article will be accessible worldwide and perpetually. The RSRS welcomes submissions on regional issues in economics, geography, planning, political science, and related fields, produced, for instance, by early careers researchers. The journal has a section specifically devoted to Early Career Papers which focuses on publishing short articles from students and early career researchers to make their research accessible to a wider audience. Articles in the Early Career Papers section will have a regional focus and will succinctly present the research questions and results whether preliminary or final.
I found the Early Career section a great vehicle to publish intermediate results of my research project. Being an open access journal, following a rigorous and meticulous process of review by a notable and experienced editorial team as well as external peer-reviewers, I knew in advance that the manuscript could reach a larger audience. I would like to underline here that the publishing process was challenging, as academic publishing is, but very also a very rewarding one.
The aim of the editorial team is to publish novel, insightful and unique research findings. The team is highly committed to support early career researchers all the way through, from the paper proposal to the final version of the manuscript. It was a challenging process, as I had to improve the manuscript for several times bringing additional literature and highlighting the uniqueness of the findings. At the same time, it was also a very rewarding route as I have learned a lot during the revision - I have developed new ideas and consequently polish the theoretical framework. The 3000 words as maximum length for the articles challenges researchers to go straight to the point and indeed focuses on the most relevant findings – this particular element is also very relevant to boost readership as we all like to get new information in a fast, pragmatic and straightforward way. I have received great comments that have definitely helped me to bring the paper to a higher level. I can convincingly state there that I greatly benefit of the mentored route to publication the journal offers for early careers to publish their work.
I hope to have inspired some early careers to prepare a paper proposal. I would like to remind the readers that the editors of the Early Career Papers section are currently seeking submissions of paper proposals for short articles (max. 3,000 words as mentioned above). The next deadline for paper proposals is 15 of October 2015 (please read the information here and consider submitting).
Additional information of relevant interest for early careers is that the Regional Studies Association is currently organising the next - Early Career Conference 2015 - From Early Careers to Established Profiles: Strategies for Success, 29th - 30th October, 2015 at ICOSS, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK and also welcomes abstracts ( info. here). Read here the summary of last year Early Career Conference in Sheffield - Sheffield at a glance: widening career horizons through open access publishing.

28 Aug 2015

As part of the Regional Studies Association‘s 50th anniversary new funding schemes and increased funding for Research Networks have been agreed.

By offering these, the Association is seeking to raise the profile of regional research and its contribution if appropriate, to policy and practice. Research awards will be judged on the basis of the excellence of the research proposal and the ability of the applicant to communicate the results of the research broadly.

Please note that these schemes are open to RSA members only. However, non-members are encouraged to apply and join the RSA at the same time (not applicable for the Fellowship Research Grant).

Travel Grants

The RSA offers its members’ up to £500 towards travel costs when attending a non - RSA event. Recipients of the Travel Grant must be a member of the Association at the time of the application, at the time of travel and claim. Non-members are encouraged to apply and join the RSA at the same time.

  • Value: up to £500 (or its equivalent in US$ or € depending upon the exchange rate at the time of the award).
  • Application deadlines in 2015: Friday 28th August, 3pm (GMT); Friday 27th November, 3pm (GMT)

Webpage: www.regionalstudies.org/funding/page/rsa-travel-grant

Membership Research Grant (NEW)

This is a new research funding scheme introduced in 2015 which is intended primarily to provide opportunities for mid-career scholars who have already published in the field of regional studies and or science and who are current Individual members of the RSA.

  • Value: up to £5,000 (or its equivalent in US$ or € depending upon the exchange rate at the time of the award).
  • Timeframe: Maximum time span of 18 months and reporting conditions apply
  • Application process: A two stage application process applies
  • Application deadline (first selection round): 30th October 2015, 3pm (GMT)

Webpage: www.regionalstudies.org/funding/page/rsa-MeRSA-Grant

Fellowship Research Grant (NEW)

This new award is open to Fellows of the RSA only. RSA Fellows are members who have been continuous members for a minimum of 5 years and who have also been defined as “active members”. This means that they have contributed to the life of the Association through serving on the Board or committees, have spoken at conferences, have applied for funding etc. Please email the membership team at membership@regionalstudies.org to check your eligibility for this category of membership.

  • Value: up to £7,500 (or its equivalent in US$ or € depending upon the exchange rate at the time of the award).
  • Timeframe: Maximum time span of 18 months and reporting conditions apply
  • Application process: A two stage application process applies
  • Application deadline (first selection round): 30th October 2015, 3pm (GMT)

Webpage: www.regionalstudies.org/funding/page/rsa-fellowship-research-grant-scheme

The RSA Early Career Award

Who is it for?

This award is open to single applicants in their early career (five years maximum between the date showing on the certificate and the application deadline). Applicants must be based within an eligible higher education institution (HEI) and must be a current, early career member of the Regional Studies Association and throughout the duration of the grant (please note that applicants may apply for membership at the same time as applying for the grant).

  • Value: up to £10,000 (or its equivalent in US$ or € depending upon the exchange rate at the time of the award).
  • Timeframe: Maximum time span of 18 months and reporting conditions apply
  • Application process: A two stage application process applies
  • Application deadline (first selection round): 31st May 2016, 3pm (GMT) 

Webpage: http://www.regionalstudies.org/funding/page/early-career-grant-scheme

2015-2016 Research Networks’ Funding Scheme

In 2015, the Association introduced an increased Research Networks’ funding scheme which is part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Association and available in 2015 and 2016 only. RSA Research Networks are formed by RSA members interested in meeting to examine an issue that responds to the aims and goals of the Association and is of interest and concern to members of the Association as well as non-members. The issue needs not necessarily to have a direct policy focus but the examination would normally lead to policy related conclusions.

  • Value: up to £10,000 (or its equivalent in US$ or € depending upon the exchange rate at the time of the award).
  • Timeframe: minimum of 3 years and reporting conditions apply
  • Application deadline: 31st July 2016, 4pm (GMT)

Webpage: www.regionalstudies.org/research

2016 RSA Awards

The call for the 2015 RSA Awards is now open for the following categories:

  • Nathaniel Lichfield Award 2015 (Taught Masters)
  • RSA and Routledge Early Career Award 2015 (Early Careers)
Since 2011, The Regional Studies Association has allocated financial resources to support its members and offer a range of funding opportunities to suit different career stages. These opportunities provide members with the chance to apply for financial help to support their research, run networking events, receive awards for excellence and help towards the costs of travel to attend non RSA events and present their work to international audiences.

  • Value: up to £500 in cash (In case the award is assigned to two or more nominees, the prize will be divided equally among the winners), a certificate and up to a discretionary £200 towards travel to attend the RSA President's Event 2015 in London, UK on the 19th November 2015.
  • Application deadline: 31st May 2016, 4pm (GMT)
Webpage: http://www.regionalstudies.org/funding/page/awards-2015

For more details on the RSA’s Awards, Funding and Research Schemes please visit http://www.regionalstudies.org/funding, and for related queries email Auréliane Beauclair, Development Manager at aureliane.beauclair [at] regionalstudies [dot] org.

24 Aug 2015


In just 24 years (1989-2013), the EU Cohesion Policy has shifted its main strategic intervention goals several times. In short, while in earlier times a stronger focus was put on (i) improving human capital; (ii) supporting companies; and (iii) building and modernizing physical infrastructures, the present development paradigm, expressed in the Europe 2020 Strategy (smart, sustainable and inclusive growth), highlights the need to develop a greener and more competitive economy, based on knowledge and innovation, while fostering a high-employment economy, which delivers social and territorial cohesion.

This also reflects the Lisbon Treaty’s recognition that the European Union needs not only to promote social and economic cohesion, but also ‘territorial cohesion’. Yet, as the Territorial Agenda (TA2020) from 2011 expresses, ‘the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth can only be achieved if the territorial dimension of the strategy is taken into account, as the development opportunities of the different regions vary’.

The same document (TA2020), highlights the need to deepen the territorial dimension of EU Cohesion Policy by ‘strengthening mechanisms which can ensure the territorial coordination of its interventions; improving the territorial dimension of all steps of strategic programming, evaluation and monitoring activities; ensuring scope for integrated place-based programmes and projects, and integrating different funds in regional strategies’. Achieving this, however, remains a major challenge. This workshop aims to further discuss this question and shed new light on three of the main aspects associated with the Territorial Dimension of the EU Cohesion Policy, for the next programming cycle (2014-2020).


We invite all those interested to submit abstracts for research papers which should include a description of the conceptual framework, research questions, methods, and a statement on the main findings and contribution to knowledge related with the topics of the Workshop.
  • Abstracts of up to 1000 words should be submitted to: jornadasmopt@campus.ul.pt.
  • Abstract should include: Title, names of all the authors, affiliation and full contact details
  • Open: September 7, 2015
  • Close: September 25, 2015
  • Acceptance notification: October 1, 2015
  • Final programme: October 5, 2015
  • For any question on the submission, please contact eduarda.costa@campus.ul.pt or emedeiros@campus.ul.pt

The workshop will focus on the following topics:

1.  Assessing territorial impacts at the various spatial levels
 How to effectively implement TIA (Territorial Impact Assessment) procedures in the EU Member States, in order to achieve the goal of the present EU Cohesion Cycle in putting more emphasis in assessing the results of the implemented projects/programmes? What can be the role of ESPON in perfecting and unifying the existing TIA methods and techniques? What is the importance of the urban dimension in the evaluation of the EU Cohesion Policy, considering that urban areas absorb the lions-part of the EU structural funds?

2. Implementing the Territorial Agenda and the European Spatial Development Perspective
How can the EU Cohesion Policy be an effective vehicle in implementing the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) and the Territorial Agenda priorities of promoting a more polycentric and balanced territorial development? Are the Territorial Agenda’s main goals being included within the territorial development strategies of the EU Member States? What are the different storylines and experiences in implementing place-based strategies in Europe?

3. Achieving territorial cohesion in the EU
The Lisbon treaty goal of promoting ‘economic, social and territorial cohesion, and solidarity among Member States’ is still a far cry from the reality. How can the EU Cohesion Policy be more effective in contributing to the achievement of this ultimate goal of territorial development? What can be the role of Territorial Cooperation in this endeavour? How to make the most out of EU Cohesion Policy interventions in less developed regions, particularly in times of financial and economic crisis?


The Regional Studies Association (RSA) Research Network on EU Cohesion Policy aims at providing a forum for debating EU cohesion policy, its effectiveness, impacts, paradoxes, and its future. Through the organisation of six highly successful international workshops and of several special sessions at the recent RSA conferences, since 2011, the Network has succeeded in bringing together academics investigating EU cohesion policy as well as practitioners working with this policy at the EU, national and regional levels. The workshops addressed the key issues structuring the debate on the assessment of the effectiveness and impacts of EU cohesion policy as well as its reform in the run-up to the 2014-2020 period. The Network creates opportunities for inspiring exchanges of ideas, has helped to foster new research collaborations and has led to joint publications.

Network partners:

  • Eduarda Costa and Eduardo Medeiros, IGOT, University of Lisbon: eduarda.costa@campus.ul.pt / emedeiros@campus.ul.pt;
  • Ida Musiałkowska – Poznań University of Economics:  i.musialkowska@ue.poznan.pl;
  • Laura Polverari and John Bachtler, EPRC, University of Strathclyde: laura.polverari@strath.ac.uk;; john.bachtler@strath.ac.uk;
  • Magdalena Sapała (IES) and Nicola Francesco Dotti (COSMOPOLIS), Vrije Universiteit Brussel: magdalena.sapala@vub.ac.be / nicola.dotti@vub.ac.be;
  • Marcin Dąbrowski, Department of Urbanism, TU Delft: m.m.dabrowski@tudelft.nl;
  • Oto Potluka, Unviersity of Economics Prague: potluka@vse.cz.

Keynote speakers:

Prof. Andreas Faludi

Em.Prof. of Spatial Policy Systems in Europe, Delft University of Technology, NL.Studied architecture and planning at the Vienna University of Technology and did his PhD there as well. His academic career started at what is now Oxford Brooks University, followed by chairs at Delft University of Technology, the University of Amsterdam and at Radboud University Nijmegen, and since 2005 back at Delft where he is now emeritus professor. He also holds occasional teaching assignments at Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden where he was awarded an honorary doctorate. He specialized at planning theory and methodology. He was a British Council Scholar, an Australian-European Fellow, a Fulbright Scholar, a Fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in Social Science and the Humanities, a European Fulbright Scholar and a Fellow of the Bellagio Rockefeller Center and has been visiting professor at several Universities. He has a large number of reference publications in European and world context. He is an Honorary Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Association of European Schools of Planning.

Prof. Kai Böhme

Dr Kai Böhme is director of Spatial Foresight GmbH. He specialises in European regional and territorial research and policies, international comparative studies in the fields of regional development policies, spatial planning, and in the territorial impacts of sector policies. He has a truly European background and considerable experience in policy advice at the European and national level as well as in the management of international applied research and consultancy projects.

Prof. Jacek Zaucha

Professor of Economic of University of Gdańsk, research fellow of the Maritime Institute in Gdańsk, founder of the Development Institute, former Deputy Secretary of the intergovernmental co-operation „Visions and Strategies around the Baltic Sea VASAB 2010”, former Chairman of the VASAB working group on ICZM and Maritime Spatial Planning, former member of the Senior official group of the Baltic Agenda 21, member of the team of the Scientific Advisers to the Polish Ministry of the Regional Development responsible for preparation of the first draft of the National Spatial Development Concept, member of the drafting team for updating EU Territorial Agenda, author of two pilot maritime spatial plans in Poland, author of more than one hundred scientific publications.

Prof. Maria Prezioso

Maria Prezioso is Full professor of Economic Geography and Economics and Territory at Faculty of Economics University of Rome Tor Vergata. From 2000, she is European partner and Lead of several European project (ESPON, Urbact, ENPI CiBMed, Cadzis, UERA, etc.) by a network of academic research bodies as expert in sustainability and cohesive spatial planning, territorial competiveness, regional and municipality development by patented TIA and SEA processes (STeMA) and GIS. She is author and editor of more than 250 national and international publications and handbooks and board of US Social Sciences journal. She was Rector Responsibility person for Integrated Strategic Assessment; is member of the Italian Association of Geographers, expert member of the Italian National Council of Public Works and scientific expert and National Contact Point for the ESPON Programme 2013 and 2020 under the Italian Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports. Actually she is teaching to bachelor degree and master degree courses, and PhD School in Political Geography and PhD School in Management and Local Development; is Director of Academic Spin-off ‘STeMA project and of II Level Master MEPE (European Economics and planning for sustainable territorial development) and STeMA-GIS Laboratory.

Wolfgang Petzold

Wolfgang Petzold is head of unit in the communication department of the European Committee of the Regions, the EU’s assembly of regional and local representatives in Brussels since 2008. Before, he worked for ten years for the European Commission’s Regional Policy and Employment and Social Affairs Directorate-Generals. Being a sociologist, Wolfgang graduated from the University of Bremen in 1983 and began his career in the field of adults’ education and continued with EU programme management in a regional ministry for economic and European affairs. He published several books and articles on EU cohesion policy and lectures at the University of Applied Sciences in Bremen since 1999. He is member of the German branch of the EU Studies Association (AEI), the Regional Studies Association (RSA) and its research committee, as well as of the editorial board of the journal European Structural and Investment Funds (EStIF).


5 November 2015

14:00 Registration and coffee
14.30 Welcome Introduction

  • Eduardo Medeiros (CEG) / Eduarda Costa (CEG)
  • Mário Vale (Director of CEG-UL)
  • (Vice-Dean of UL)

15:00 Exploring the Territorial Dimension of EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020:

  • Keynote Speaker - Andreas Faludi, Delft Univ. (The territorial dimension of the EU Cohesion Policy)
  • Wolfgang Petzold, Committee of the Regions  (The role of the Regions in the EU Cohesion Policy)
  • Chair - João Ferrão (ICS) – To be confirmed 

16:15 Coffee Break

16.45 Books Presentation:

  • Andreas Faludi (Delft Univ.) and Daniel Rauhut (Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, NIBR) – presentation of the book Services of general interest: European perspectives and national insights, eds. Heinz Fassmann, Daniel Rauhut, Eduarda Marques da Costa, Alois Humer
  • Luís Moreno (CEG – Lisbon Univ.) – presentation of the book Territorial Impact Assessment, ed. Eduardo Medeiros

17.30 Closing session

6 November 2015

 09:00 Session I - Implementing the Territorial Agenda and the ESDP:

  • Key Note Speaker  Jacek Zaucha (University of Gdansk)
  • Speaker 1
  • Speaker 2
  • Chair - (Agency for Development and Cohesion)

11:00 Coffee Break  

11.30 Session II - Assessing territorial impacts at the various spatial levels:

  • Key Note Speaker: Kai Böhme (Spatial Foresight GmbH)
  • Speaker 1
  • Speaker 2
  • Chair - Eduardo Medeiros (CEG-IGOT – Lisbon University)

13:30 Lunch

14:30 Session III - Achieving territorial cohesion in the EU:

  • Key Note Speaker: Maria Prezioso (University of Rome – Tor Vergata)
  • Speaker 1
  • Speaker 2
  • Chair - Eduarda Costa (CEG-IGOT – Lisbon University)

16:30 Closing Session

  • Eduardo Medeiros (CEG) / Eduarda Costa (CEG)
  • General Direction of Territory
  • Maria Lucinda Fonseca (IGOT Director)

 17.00 End of session

The Venue

  • Conference room of the Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning. (IGOT) - University of Lisbon Campus.
  • Avenida Professor Anibal Bettencourt
  • Metro station: Cidade Universitária or Entrecampos

The institution

The Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning (IGOT) – University of Lisbon was created in 2009 and aims at promoting geography and planning higher education, advanced training and research. The Centre of Geographical Studies (CEG) is the research unit of IGOT. The Centre of Geographical Studies (CEG) is the research unit of IGOT. Established in 1943, CEG is the main Portuguese institution conducting research in the field of Geography. The research environment at CEG –IGOT benefits from belonging to the Universidade de Lisboa, which is the largest and one of the most prestigious universities in Portugal.

CEG is organised in three Thematic Lines, which coordinate the activities of 7 Research Groups. Currently, around 200 researchers, of which 78 PhD graduates, work at CEG. CEG work is global in scope and addresses cutting-edge subjects of contemporary Human and Physical Geography and Planning inquiries, aiming at contributing to theoretical, methodological and empirical knowledge on the field. CEG owns and publishes continuously since 1965 the prestigious journal Finisterra. CEG is involved in several collaborative research partnerships and networking activities, both at international and national scales. It also has a high quality of research environment and facilities, such as a specialized library and a vast Map Collection. Local Organizers: Eduardo Medeiros and Eduarda Costa.

13 Aug 2015

The Regional Studies Association seeks to appoint a co-editor with expertise in urban and political geographies of the global south to join the editorial team of John Agnew, Michael Keating, Martin Jones, Walter Nicholls, Bae-Gyoon Park and Justus Uitermark on the journal Territory, Politics, Governance, published by Routledge.

Territory, Politics, Governance is an interdisciplinary journal committed to the development of theory and research in territorial politics and the governance of space, creating a platform on which to explore the interface between territory, politics, economy, identity and the organisation of political space. In its first years of publication TPG has begun to stake out a position as a major venue for articles on contemporary transformations in governance resulting from territorial secession and economic globalization, the changing territorial politics of interests and identities, and the increasing importance of large cities in world politics.

The journal is in its third volume and is published quarterly. It has a significant circulation footprint as it is distributed with its sister journals, Regional Studies; Spatial Economic Analysis; Regional Studies, Regional Science and the new launch journal Area Development and Policy (2016). It has achieved demonstrable impact since launch in 2013, with over 27,000 full text downloads of papers published in the journal during 2013-14.  It is already under consideration for a Thomson Reuters ISI/SSCI impact factor.

The journal is fully owned by the Regional Studies Association with appointments made by the RSA Board. Editorial appointments will be for three years in the first instance and may be renewable. The Editor-in-Chief is Professor John Agnew, UCLA.
Person Specification
The journal uses ScholarOne and a journal administrator to manage the peer review process. The co-editor will generally oversee the peer review of papers within their field of expertise. The co-editor joins an active team of editors at this exciting time for the journal. The co-editor will identify and seek reviews for assigned papers and feedback comments to authors and the editor-in-chief. At the current time the co-editor may expect to oversee the peer review of 7-10 original manuscripts per annum. Co-editors contribute at least one editorial to the journal every two 
We are looking to appoint a research active scholar who:

  • has made significant scholarly contributions in economic and political geography
  • has expertise in one or more of the following areas urban and political geographies of the global south
  • has extensive experience as a reviewer for journals in the field
  • can work constructively with authors, reviewers and the editorial team to enable both authors and the journal to publish leading academic research

Although not a requirement we particularly welcome applicants who are based in the global South.

To Apply:
Application packages should include CVs and a manifesto statement setting out what would be brought to the editorial role, particularly in terms of the journal’s international remit and views on the journal content. Engagement with relevant networks and conferences in the field should be demonstrated. They should also signal any institutional support, including any time allowance for journal work and available university resources. 

Closing Date:  Sunday 11th October 2015

Applications should be sent to the Association’s Chief Executive at sally.hardy@regionalstudies.org
Prospective applicants who wish to have informal discussions are welcome to contact Sally Hardy initially by email to arrange a call.

21 Jul 2015

Between 25 and 27 November, 2015 the RSA Conference in China will take place in Hangzhou, China. The conference is built around "Harmonious Development, Common Prosperity and the Transformation of Cities and Regions".

As part of the conference you are invited to submit papers covering a variety of issues including:
  • International co-operation, infrastructure investment, finance and cross-border relationships (including the Silk Road Economic Belt' and the '21st Century Maritime Silk Road', internal and external EU borders);
  • Sustainable urbanization and regional development;
  • Nature, resource scarcity climate change and regional development;
  • Industrial policy, industrial structure, clusters, global value chains and production networks, smart specialization and spatial shift;
  • Trade, E-commerce, intellectual property and regional development;
  • Employment, labour markets and social inclusion;
  • Population dynamics, migration and urban and regional development;
  • The role of universities, public research and technology diffusion and transfer in economic development;
  • Regional and urban planning;
  • Global production networks and international relations;
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship;
  • Finance, financialization and regional and urban development;
  • Regional planning and policy;
  • Methods of urban and regional analysis and data including open and big data;
  • The social, institutional and ethical foundations of global development (including for example western Enlightenment ideas and ways of seeing urban and regional development, Confucian thought and East Asian models, developmental versus liberal states). Mutual respect, national independence and urban and regional development. Universal theory versus the social and geographical specificity of development.

The deadline for the paper submissions is 31st July 2015,and should be done using the Regional Studies Association online portal. Registration and submission is available on the Regional Studies Association website at: www.regionalstudies.org/conferences.

Submissions should take the form of 400-500 words abstracts (text only! no pictures, graphs or tables). 

For information concerning the event and/or registration fees and further details and questions regarding abstract submission  please visit the RSA online portal dedicated page of the conference, or contact Elizabeth Mitchell directly at elizabeth.mitchell [at] regionalstudies.org.

28 May 2015

This is a guest post by Dr. Ulrich Graute. He is an International Cooperation and Development Expert (UN, EU, national) and Senior Adviser, as well as a board member of the Regional Studies Association. Ulrich represents the RSA at a UN General Assembly Hearing on the Post 2015 Development Agenda on 26 and 27 May and volunteered to keep us up to date with the latest developments. This is the continuation of yesterday's post The RSA attends UN hearing with stakeholders on the new Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Four experts deliver a sharp analysis of the agenda …

Four pannelists ready to speak-up (left) and the moderator Magdy Martinez-Soliman of UNDP

Later during the conference a classic communication gap between UN and stakeholders became apparent. Four women from Kenya, Egypt, Mexico and India were asked to present their views on the agenda, its monitoring indicators and means of implementation. What the UN more cautiously had indicated in the concept note is that the final draft of the development agenda is already written (but not to be published before the end of May, i.e. a few days after the hearing) and that any major request for change from non-state stakeholders might spoil the already difficult task to find agreement on the agenda among 193 UN member states by September.

Well, the UN found a master in the four women who knew exactly where proposed goals and indicators for inclusiveness are too wishy-washy and where the more targeted goals and indicators exclude important aspects. Of course, as non-state stakeholders they are not responsible for the timing and diplomatic strategizing at the international level. They were just invited to speak at a hearing – and so they did.

… and the UN assures a punctual end of the debate

In a short intervention as RSA representative I tried to bridge the gap by asking panellists to talk about their local readiness to implement the agenda. By doing so they could have demonstrated that further ignoring the local situation by the UN could condemn the agenda to fail right from the beginning. Unfortunately, before giving the floor to the panellists the UN moderator collected a total of about fifteen statements. Not surprisingly, panellists were overwhelmed and did not even try to respond to all statements, questions etc. This way the session came to a punctual end. But I am quite sure that in the final report by the organizers the session will be described as a ‘lively and high level debate with plenty of meaningful interaction between UN and stakeholders’. 

What was achieved? What are the conclusions to be drawn?

After these negative remarks one has to ask for the added value of these events.
The UN has to be credited for delivering what was promised at the first place: Engaging stakeholders and organizing a public hearing. This is notable because in the past it was not common to organize such events while intergovernmental negotiations were on-going. The limited experience of the organizers may explain to some extend why the hearing was so formal and without real debate. For an “informal hearing” it was by far too formalistic. At the same time too little information was given to participants. The document available in advance, the concept note, was to generic and apparently it generated wrong expectations on the side of participants. Overall, the UN has to learn how to better engage non-state stakeholders.

On the side of academic institutions like RSA there are also lessons to be learned.

Firstly, we have to understand how important this engagement with non-academic institutions is for us. The Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS) launched a UK-wide campaign to lobby for the added value of social sciences. This wouldn't be necessary if researchers and scholars would attend and contribute to stakeholder events and joint search for problem-solving more frequently.

Secondly, when UN representatives assign an “important and leading” role to academic institutions (as it happened at the opening of the hearing) they predominantly think about academia as a provider of technical tools and magic formulas to save the planet and our living standard. There is less openness to admit that also a lot needs to be done to improve governance and management of global development processes – beginning with a better organization of informal hearings. It’s up to us to shatter the hope that a sustainable development on earth will be possible without improving the institutional framework and cooperation.

27 May 2015

This is a guest post by Dr. Ulrich Graute. He is an International Cooperation and Development Expert (UN, EU, national) and Senior Adviser, as well as a board member of the Regional Studies Association. Ulrich represents the RSA at a UN General Assembly Hearing on the Post 2015 Development Agenda on 26 and 27 May and volunteered to keep us up to date with the latest developments.

The UN called non-state stakeholders for a hearing but many member states didn't show up to hear them

Squaring the circle: engaging academia and countless non-governmental organisations in the process to develop one new development agenda for the world

Engaging academia is already a challenge for politicians. On my way to New York I was reading the new RSA publication "Spatially Rebalancing the UK Economy: The Need for a New Policy Model". The pamphlet recalled to my mind how easily politics can miss the right direction and generate imbalance and inequality. Of course, it gives also an example on what academia has to say and how researchers and scholars can contribute to new policies and developments. Last but not least, what the case of the UK also demonstrates is that academic advice is often ignored and - as in case of the UK - couldn't prevent negative developments of the past and present.

What's at stake at the UN is an even bigger challenge: It's about a new development agenda for the entire world - and eradication of poverty until 2030 is only one of the abitious goals. Resilient cities is another goal.  Overall, most of the 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target at having an impact on the territory around the world. The agenda is not only very ambitious, it also has a universal and transformative character. Thus, it is adressed even to you dear reader of these lines!

Participating NGOs don't accept the role assigned to them

About 200 representatives of non-governmental organizations, civil society, major groups (one of them being academia) and the private sector meet today and tomorrow (26 and 27 May 2015) with representatives of the UN and its member states at the UN General Assembly Hall in New York for a hearing on the new agenda and its SDGs, which member states are about to launch at a special UN Summit this September.

The UN tried its best to pick speakers who can represent the wide range of groups adressed by the hearing. But it doesn't work. Already in the opening plenary Heather Grady spoiled the show: She came to New York as vice president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors but the group of philantropic institutions includes about 200.000 philantropic foundations in the US and Europe alone. There is no way and interest to represent them all. The same is true for me as RSA which is one big but certainly not the only academic association. Thus, there is a big dilemma: The UN needs the support of all the stakeholders invited but the limited number of stakeholders who came and fit into the General Assembly Hall is neither representative nor are they organized. I wonder how this will work out during this hearing?

10 Mar 2015

Dear colleagues we are pleased to announce a collaborative PhD studentship between the Department of Town and Regional Planning, University ofSheffield, the Regional Studies Association (RSA) and the Taylor & Francis Group. The supervisors for this project are Prof. Gordon Dabinett and Dr.Alasdair Rae (University of Sheffield) and Sally Hardy (Regional Studies Association). If you are interested please read through the details below:

Project Title:  The creation and reproduction of policy relevant spatial knowledge and new publishing models: A case study of regional studies.

  • Are you interested in the relationships between academic knowledge and policy action?
  • Do you think the impact of regional studies research can be increased?
  • Do you want to take part in a collaborative PhD supported by the Regional Studies Association and Taylor & Francis to explore how new publishing models are changing the regional studies community of interest?

If so, then this PhD studentship will be of interest to you.

To Apply:

We welcome applications from a wide range of subject/disciplinary backgrounds in the social sciences such as geography, planning, business and management studies or politics. We also recognise the value of practice-based experience, and will consider candidates with substantial experience.

These awards are only available to nationals from the UK and EU. UK applicants will be eligible for a full award (paying fees and maintenance at standard Research Council rates). EU applicants are normally eligible for a fees only award, unless they have been resident in the UK for 3 years immediately preceding the date of the award.

Enquiries and further details about making an application should be made to Prof. Gordon Dabinett: g.e.dabinett@sheffield.ac.uk and are available here.