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Warsaw Regional Forum 2011

Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization PAS together with Academic Branch of Polish Geographical Society, Ministry of Regional Development and Committee for Spatial Economy and Regional Planning invite on Warsaw Regional Forum 2011 - Functional regions: towards a new paradigm of territorial and cohesion policy (19-22 October 2011, Warsaw).

Warsaw Regional Forum – an overview of all the four conferences

Download: First circular, Registration form, Abstract layout, Third circular and programme


This year’s Forum will be focused on the functional regions as a new paradigm of territorial and cohesion policy. It is related to the now ongoing works on the new shape of the European cohesion policy. Greater flexibility in delimitation of units that are primary focus of that policy is postulated, among others, in the Fifth Cohesion Report. The new results obtained from the evaluation studies carried out in the previous programming periods attest to the importance of adopting the new approach to the European space. A functional region constitutes a space whose basic element is different from a traditionally understood sectoral specialization. Its determinants are, to an increasingly larger extent, made up of such elements like size, directions and structure of linkages and flows. Interestingly, as regards the last, these can be both inner flows (commuting to work and services of general interests, production chains) as well as outer flows (trade exchange, migrations), including often the processes of global significance.

In particular, the Forum 2011 sessions will be built upon the discussions on the following dilemmas:

  • critical look at a spatial classification into urban and rural space. More and more often it is pointed out that a division of settlement units into urban and rural is imprecise and vague. In the modern spatial research, the concept of functional regions represents a shift from a dichotomic classification of administrative units in favour of capturing the differences in spatial organization, economic activity, conditions of living and functional structure. This permits us to conduct cohesive analyses (and also to gather statistical data) as regards the zones termed as an urban-rural continuum, as well as offering the new possibilities for developing territorial policy (separately from sectoral and administrative limitations).
  • eco-system services as a support for development of functional regions. Today the environmental economy is associated with a diversity of views on the economic impacts of ecosystem services and pro-environmental investments, particularly those associated with the protection of the environment and the landscape and the effort to maintain or raise an area’s attractiveness. The aim of the session is to present some aspects of ecosystem services in support of regional development. In short, it is being treated as an important factor behind regional economic development, joining with the economic and social factors in determining directions that development is to take, ways in which it is to be achieved, means of implementation and consequences.
  • flows as a basis for a new look at the cohesion policy. The uninterrupted flow of goods, capital, people and services involve the four fundamental rules governing the functioning of the EU single market. At the same time, there is a limited knowledge of that issue. In the majority of the European countries (in particular among the New Member States), the statistical systems gather data rather about places than flows. Under these circumstances, the important gap in knowledge is bridged by detailed spatial studies carried out on the ground of geography, economy, sociology, planning and regional sciences. Some of their findings challenge the established views concerning spatial structure of the European Union. Thus they should become the basis for a new look at the cohesion policy
  • European space in light of the latest strategic documents. In autumn 2010, the Fifth Cohesion Report that included proposals for the future cohesion policy was published. In the nearest months it is planned to adopt the updated version of the Territorial Agenda of the EU. Ambition of the Polish Presidency of the EU Council is to prepare a background report concerning a transmission of the new Agenda into the principles of Cohesion Policy. Simultaneously, works in many of the projects related to the ESPON II Programme are in an advanced stage. All the aforementioned actions require a broader, sometimes critical, reflection based on the fundament of the empirical and theoretical scientific studies. Also, it is very important to compare the European documents with those prepared at the national, regional or transborder levels.
  • Europe’s functional linkages in a global dimension (with a particular focus on linkages with neighbouring areas). Functional and transport linkages of the European Union (of the particular Member States as well) in a global dimension are of critical importance. These include transcontinental transport of goods, migration movements, as well as tourism. The problems associated with these issues are focused mainly in some of the European Union regions (metropolises, transportation hubs, outer parts of East and Mediterranean borderlands). In this context, among problems to be solved is a growing overburden of port and air infrastructure in West Europe. Concerning the overland transport, a fact to be taken into account is development of the railway and road networks in some of the Asian countries (especially in China and Iran), which have impact upon development of transcontinental overland transport (in particular railway). For that reason the exploitation of „dry ports” in the eastern borders of the EU is increasingly gaining in significance.

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