Regional integration incorporates local developments into a larger territorial framework, contributing to the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of the re-use practices. It includes all mechanisms that encourage the integration of adaptive reuse into the larger regional development framework. Commons-oriented governance, alternative ideas of ownership, circular economy via bottom-up adaptive reuse are at its forefront.
By resting on those neo-regionalist approaches OpenHeritage aims to contribute at, regions are territories to be defined in relation to social practices and in discourse, social constructs which scale might vary greatly by embracing macro, micro or cross-border dimensions. Regional integration thus involves multi-stakeholder agency by orienting different resources and divergent interests towards common territorial development goals.
It is a co-evolutionary process through which heritage related values to a (cultural) site are up-scaled to overcome territorial disparities, by creating benefits and strengthening connections with the surrounding areas whereas it impacts on its attractiveness and identity.
Relevance: where and how is the term relevant in the OpenHeritage?
Regional integration is a crucial concept of OpenHeritage, that correspond to the third aspect of the inclusive management model the project aims at, by integrating regional planning with other two main pillars: “community and stakeholder integration” and “resource integration”.
Therefore, it is a leading aspect at both macro and micro level of research. A specific effort on the investigation of regional integration has been deployed in analyzing the regulatory-institutional framework guiding adaptive re-use practices in Europe today (WP1), studying how these works locally through selected cases studio (WP2), and in the complex evaluation which brings these aspects together as well (WP3).
Approaches related to regional integration are part of the toolbox which has been developed and tested in the Cooperative Heritage Labs (CHLs). To this end, it is included in the CHLs Local Action Plans that function as roadmaps to follow from the start of the inclusive re-use processes.
Although regionalism has drawn forth a rising interest in a number of social science specialisations (e.g. social and gender, migration, human rights, environmental governance, etc.), the term “regional integration” is dominant in two field: international political economy and EU integration. The first ultimately explores ways to “foster liberalization and settle disputes over market access between states” such as trade and investment patterns; the second, instead, has been tempting to go beyond interstate bargains by considering “member states and their governments as the principal agents driving European integration and policy-making to protect their geopolitical interests and the economic concerns of their constituencies” (Börzel 2016, 63-41). It needs to be noticed that integration theories mainly emerged from the European phenomenon, making European study on the matter the main reference to measure integration in other part of the world (Ibidem; Laursen 2010).
In recent years, the debate around regionalism and regional integration has focused on two main directions. “New regionalism” (social constructivist) criticizes the state-oriented approach of the “old” ones (rationalist) by including, in the definition of a region, more spontaneous processes. The emphasis is thus on “informal sectors, parallel economies, and non-state coalitions” (Laursen 2010, 3), namely in the social construction of a region and including also actors such as those of civil society, often neglected in the study of regionalism (De Lombaerde et al 2010, 23). Accordingly, De Lombaerde et al stress that “region is a polysemous concept”: it embraces a highly variable spatial scale, from supranational, to subnational cross-border regions, challenging the very existence of comparative regionalism studies (De Lombaerde, 2010).
Due to city-centered regional development, and in respect with OpenHeritage focus, it is worth mentioning the metropolitan scale of regional integration as key level to evaluate disparities economic (Psycharis, Kallioras and Pantazis, 2020) and spatial variations (Wan 2019). Already in the late 80s Vartiainen (1987, 126-117) states “territorial integration” is a seminal concept in approaching neoregionalism through spatial policy and planning. By adopting a restricted geographical approach, the author aims at clarifying the meaning of territorial integration, an attempt he develops through the concept of territoriality. It emerges a local-based perspective, conceptualizing the regional system “in both a physico-functional sense and a socio-cultural sense”. Therefore, locality - “the arena for our everyday life and experiences” - is assumed as the basic element of the system (Ibidem).
It has been noticed that the territorial dimension, particularly through the idea of territorial cohesion and then through European Cohesion Policy, featured in thinking on European integration from the start (Gallez 2018), bringing the principle of balanced territorial development at the core of the European action. (13) Territorial Agenda of the European Union 2020 mainly stresses regional integration in term of territorial connectivity “for individuals, communities and enterprises” (priority 5) and “ecological, landscape and cultural values of regions” (priority 6). Therefore, in the document the term “integration” couples with “inclusion”, defining a strategy to assure sustainable development objectives (European Commission 2011). Yet, moving from EU context, a fresh line of enquiry into the ‘social’ dimensions of regionalism has been exploring the nexus between regional integration and welfare. In recent study, Riggirozzi (2017, 661-675) examines the regional integration–poverty nexus in relation to health policies of Southern world regions. In the author’s viewpoint, the activities of the Southern regional organizations in supporting pro-poor approaches and advancing pro-poor programs may advance new perspectives in matter of regional integration, creating a territorial impact in term of social and regional development (Ibidem, 669).
Aim of the cohesion policy is to foster the development of the most dynamic European regions while bringing the least advantaged regions into parity.
- Börzel, Tanja A. 2016. “Theorizing Regionalism: Cooperation, Integration, and Governance.” In Oxford Handbook of Comparative Regionalism, edited by Tanja A. Börzel, Thomas Risse, 63-41. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- De Lombaerde, Philippe et al. 2010. “Problems and Divides in Comparative regionalism.” In Comparative Regional Integration: Europe and Beyond, edited by Finn Laursen, 39-21. London: Routledge.
- European Commission. 2011. Territorial Agenda of the European Union 2020: Towards an Inclusive, Smart and Sustainable Europe of Diverse Regions. Online: https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/information/publications/communications/2011/territorial-agenda-of-the-european-union-2020
- Gallez, Caroline. Enhancing territorial integration through public policies? Insights from intermunicipal cooperation in France. J. Farinós Dasí. Territory and States. Essentials for coordination of Spatial Planning Policies in XXI st Century, Tirant Humanides, pp.1 63-189, 2018. halshs-01736475
- Laursen, Finn 2010. “Regional integration: some introductory Reflections.” In Comparative Regional Integration: Europe and Beyond, edited by Finn Laursen, 3-21. London: Routledge.
- Psycharis, Yannis, Kallioras, Dimitris and Pantazis Panayotis. 2020. Regional Inequalities in Central and Eastern European Countries: The Role of Capital Regions and Metropolitan Areas. In: Śliwiński A., Polychronidou P., Karasavvoglou A. (eds) Economic Development and Financial Markets. Contributions to Economics. Springer, Cham.
- Riggirozzi, Pia. 2017. Regional Integration and Welfare: Framing and Advocating Pro-Poor Norms through Southern Regionalisms, New Political Economy, 22:6, 661-675, DOI: 10.1080/13563467.2017.1311847
- Vartiainen, Perttu. 1987. “The Strategy of Territorial Integration in Regional Development: Defining Territoriality Geoforum.” Geoforum 18 (1): 117-126.
- Wan, Yiliang et al. 2019. Quantifying the Spatial Integration Patterns of Urban Agglomerations along an Inter-City Gradient, Sustainability, 11:18, 5000. Online: https://doi.org/10.3390/su11185000
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