Networks, Space and Competitiveness

Networks, Space and Competitiveness

Evolving Challenges for Sustainable Growth

Edited by Roberta Capello and Tomaz Ponce Dentinho

The expert contributors illustrate that sources of regional competitiveness are strongly linked with spatially observable yet increasingly flexible realities, and include building advanced and efficient transport, communications and energy networks, changing urban and rural landscapes, and creating strategic and forward-looking competitiveness policies. They investigate long-term interactions between regional competitiveness and urban mobility, as well as the connections that link global sustainability with local technological and institutional innovations, and the intrinsic diversity of spatially rooted innovation processes. A prospective analysis on networks and innovation infrastructure is presented, global environmental issues such as climate change and energy are explored, and new policy perspectives – relevant world-wide – are prescribed.

Chapter 11: New challenges for sustainable growth

Tomaz Ponce Dentinho

Subjects: economics and finance, regional economics, urban and regional studies, regional economics

Extract

The crises of public finances in Europe, which started in the cohesion regions and countries – Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy – are a strong signal of decades of policy failures in regional development. Public investments were made with no sound base of viability and sustainability, on the assumption that some potential would be created to attract viable and sustainable investment. Private investments were subsidized, assuming that the stimulus would explode in a virtuous circle of sustainable development and without realizing the biased information and decision-making systems that such assistance promoted. Regional governments specialized in absorbing external public support, enlarging public bureaucracy at the local and regional levels, multiplying public spending by untold amounts and creating serious threats to democracy since the voters were no longer the local or regional taxpayers but the clients of the best political beggars of external public funds. At the same time, sectoral policies for agriculture, the environment, transport and training continued to be independent of one another at the local and regional levels, reinforcing the lack of cohesion between them and without local and regional requirements. Nevertheless, such policies would have continued if the crises of public finances and the pressures of globalization had not blown apart the unchallenged policies in agriculture, the environment, integration and cohesion. It seemed that the role of researchers was more to support political decisions than to analyse the cumulative and explosive processes of economic, social and environmental unsustainability. And yet, in an era of a rapidly changing world, we must ensure that we are asking the relevant questions, making the right assumptions, and demanding the best knowledge skills and research methods.

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