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European Week of Regions and Cities

#EURegionsWeekUniversity – Spatial Justice in Post-Pandemic Europe

This interactive session asks what a spatially just Europe might look like as the continent recovers from COVID-19 and seeks to build resilience in the face of future challenges. The session draws on evidence from the IMAJINE project to present four scenarios for Europe in 2050 and engage participants in a mediated discussion of how their region would fare under each scenario. Participants will vote on balancing demands for solidarity, cohesion, fairness and autonomy in future regional policy.


This interactive session asks what a spatially just Europe might look like as the continent recovers from COVID-19 and seeks to build resilience in the face of future social, economic, political and environmental challenges. The session draws on research from the Horizon 2020 IMAJINE project on territorial inequalities and spatial justice in Europe to engage participants in a discussion on the implications of different scenarios for regions in Europe and explore the key question of "Can coherence and solidarity be balanced with democracy and regional accountability?". Two short presentations will provide background evidence from the IMAJINE research on connections between the COVID-19 pandemic and regional inequalities and on public attitudes towards territorial inequalities, solidarity and autonomy (drawing on a survey of 18,000 citizens in eight countries).

A third presentation will outline four scenarios for future regional policy contexts in Europe: "Silver Citadel", emphasising solidarity and economic growth, in which spatial justice means equitable distribution of wealth between regions; "Green Guardian", emphasising solidarity and wellbeing, in which spatial justice means regions helping each other to adapt to the climate crisis; "Silicon Scaffold", emphasising regional autonomy and economic growth, in which spatial justice means regions' right to hold on to wealth they have generated; and "Patchwork Rainbow", emphasising autonomy and wellbeing, in which spatial justice means regions' right to define their own values.

The second part of the session will involve a mediated discussion applying tools used in IMAJINE workshops, in which participants will discuss how their region would fare under each scenario, helping to identify priorities for spatial justice in regional policy, facilitated by voting in Slido. The session will add values to debates on cohesion with an emphasis on spatial justice and scenario-testing and combining new research evidence with an interactive discussion.

When
Thu 14, October 2021
11:30 - 13:00 CET CET
Moderator
Bettina Bock, Professor of Population Decline and Quality of Rural Life, University of Groningen, Professor of Inclusive Rural Development, Wageningen University, Netherlands.
Speakers
Linda Basile, Research Fellow, Centre for the Study of Political Change, University of Siena, Italy.
Matt Finch, Independent Consultant and Associate Fellow, Said Business School, Oxford University, United Kingdom.
Marie Mahon, Senior Lecturer in Geography, National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland.
Michael Woods, Professor of Human Geography and Coordinator of the IMAJINE project, Aberystwyth University, United Kingdom.
Code
14WS21337
Format
Workshop
Theme
Cohesion
Partners
Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP), European Regional Science Association (ERSA), Regional Studies Association European Foundation (RSA Europe)
Language
English (EN)
Replay – English
https://vimeo.com/637385016

Session summary

This panel presented findings from the Horizon 2020 project IMAJINE to explore prospects for future spatial justice. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted disparities in access to healthcare, broadband and green space and has raised questions of spatial justice in the management of lockdowns and distribution of PPE and vaccines. These tensions reflect differences in public opinion identified in a survey of 18,500 respondents, which reveal varying perceptions of spatial inequalities and attitudes towards solidary shaped by self-interest. Whilst the post-pandemic recovery offers an opportunity to rethink approaches, the pandemic has shown that there are multiple ways of understanding spatial justice. Four scenarios for Europe in 2048 were outlined. These include a ‘Green Guardian’ scenario in which emphasis is placed on socio-environmental wellbeing over economic growth and spatial justice means regions helping each other to adapt to change, discussed in detail by workshop participants.


Take away message

The post-COVID recovery offers opportunities to address territorial inequalities revealed by the pandemic and to rethink approaches to spatial justice. Yet, variations in public opinion show that there are multiple ways of understanding what is spatial just. Scenarios for future spatial justice differ in emphases on solidarity and autonomy and on growth and wider wellbeing. The key question for the future is not how do we achieve spatial justice, but what form of spatial justice do we want.


Quotes

“COVID arrived in Europe in wealthier more connected regions and moved to less affluent regions. The cycle has been repeated with each wave.” Michael Woods

“There is growing feeling that the COVID-19 pandemic will increase disparities between regions. Solidarity in Europe tends to be associated to self-interest and perceptions of deservingness. Patterns of self-interest have also emerged in attitudes to solidarity in the pandemic crisis.” Linda Basile

“In the Green Guardian scenario, the EU is characterised by solidarity and well-being where a new world order emerges in response to the climate crisis. Spatial justice in this world means regions helping each other to adapt to change.” Marie Mahon