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European Week of Regions and Cities

#EURegionsWeekUniversity – European stakeholder values regarding the Green Deal. Does space matter?

The Green Deal is the new European growth strategy, involving sustainable investment and responsible projects to create new jobs, a cleaner environment and a better quality of life. Beyond regulatory policies and sustainable projects with the financial and technological means to implement them, the European Green Deal requires effective new strategies to encourage substantial behavioural changes, long-term commitments to trust and social acceptance, involving people, communities and organisations in all places.

The aim of this session is to analyse and understand the attitudes, values and choices of urban stakeholders regarding the characteristics of the places where they live and to grasp the subjectivity of human beings and individual engagement in relation to the Green Deal's ambitions. Data will come from urban stakeholders and indicators from Sustainable Goal 11 and from the selected European Green Deal cities. The session will discuss robust quantitative evidence and insights about attitudes, values and choices related to green growth and urban sustainability.

In terms of the Green Deal's challenges, the session will highlight key aspects of the following questions:

  1. What are the knowledge, values and attitudes of urban stakeholders in Europe's cities?
  2. What institutional, socio-economic, urban and environmental features explain the knowledge, values and attitudes of urban stakeholders?
  3. What are the effects of urban stakeholders' environmental awareness and behaviour in cities' inclusiveness, safety, resilience and sustainability?

Wed 13, October 2021
11:30 - 13:00 CET
Peter Nijkamp, Research Fellow, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Tomaz Ponce Dentinho, Professor of Regional, Environmental and Agricultural Economics, University of Azores.
Katarina Kopczewska, Department of Statistics and Econometrics, University of Warsaw.
Gabriela Carmen Pascariu, Center for European Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi.
Umut Türk, Asst. Prof., University of Kayseri.
Ana Vinuela, Laboratory of Regional Economic Analysis REGIOlab, University of Oviedo.
Green Transition
Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP), European Regional Science Association (ERSA), Regional Studies Association European Foundation (RSA Europe)
English (EN)
Replay – English

Session summary

The aim was to understand the relationship between sustainable indicators and stakeholders' attitudes to the Green Deal and Sustainable Development Goals, starting from the intuition that people prefer what they do not have where they live. The results from indicators and questionnaires show that:

In the Developed North, with high incomes, and good health, institutions, environment and education but poor distribution, people want means for action but disfavour action on innovation.

In the Emerging Centre, with good distribution, education and institutions but with poor health, environment and income, people favour the environment that they have less and are not in favour of innovation policies.

In the Lagging South, with good health, education and environment but poor institutions, income and distribution, people prefer basic needs - possibly because they have low-quality institutions, income and distribution - and put a lower priority on better cities.

Finally, in the Poor East with good institutions but with poor income, health, equality, environment, education and distribution, people opt for better cities and distrust funds for climate action.

Take away message

People are equal but places are different. That is: similar people in different contexts demonstrate different priorities. People prefer what they do not have where they live!

Water, food, education, sanitation, justice and health are top priorities from the questionnaires on the sustainable development goals. Green Climate Fund, industrialisation, infrastructure, global partnership, consumption patterns, energy and production patterns have much lower priority.

Space definitely matters.


Peter Nijkamp - Worries on sustainability go back to Silent Spring (1962) and The Home of Man (1976), reinforced by The Limits to Growth (1972) and Our Common Future (1987). Awareness came later with Climate Change recommendations (2000), implicit in the New Urban Agenda (2015), the Sustainable Development Goals (2015) and the Green Deal (2020). The issue now is to involve people and places.

Tomaz Ponce Dentinho – Sustainability indicators should be synthetic, sensitive to policy and sensible to people. Seventeen goals and hundreds of targets are inefficient and unmanageable. Average indicators should be substituted by marginal measures. And indicators that are not perceived by the common citizen cannot involve people and places.