European Practice and Experience
Edited by Clive George and Colin Kirkpatrick
Chapter 4: Evaluation of Regional Network Governance: Capacity Building for Steering Sustainable Development
Wolfgang Meyer and Sebastian Elbe I. INTRODUCTION When discussing concepts like ‘region’, ‘governance’ and ‘sustainable development’ their normative characters must be taken into account. Regarding ‘regions’, their borderlines are the product of social processes, and they cannot be deﬁned objectively. Even if enclosed by visible geographical landmarks like mountains or rivers, a ‘region’ is primarily deﬁned by political occupations, cultural traditions and the subjective perceptions of its inhabitants. Concerning ‘governance’, a ‘region’ relies on its function as an administrative unit of the (nation) state with speciﬁc constitutional rights, regulative duties, tax resources and public tasks to ensure the welfare of the territory. However, this does not necessarily mean that people governed by this entity feel they belong to a single community and legitimize its authorities. As the main administrative units of regions in Germany – the nation state focus of this chapter – federal states (‘Bundesländer’) were formed after the Second World War, and only some correspond with traditional political units. While the borders of the ‘Bundesländer’ have remained more or less stable since then, state deﬁnitions of smaller regional units (cities, villages, communes, districts, departments, etc.) are almost continuously varying. These on-going dynamics of government bodies are enlarging the responsibility of single regional decision makers through incorporation (‘Eingemeindungen’), as well as reducing it as shared authorities are fused (e.g. ‘regionale Verbünde’). Not only in Germany and not limited to administration, deﬁnitions of regions are far from constant over time. Nevertheless, the key documents...
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