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EUGEO2007; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; 20. - 23.08.2007 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joachim Willms [Managing Director]   

EUGEO 2007 - Amsterdam

‘Standort Europa’ at Risk
Economic growth in the Member States depends increasingly on their ability to remain attractive places for firms to locate and operate. The challenge is to strengthen their appeal to a global business community. The first step is to analyse the perspectives for Europe’s comparative advantages over time and in space. Does the key to success lie in a full-fledged knowledge and information economy? Does Europe offer the highly skilled labour pool and the flexible labour market that global business requires? Is Europe still ‘the place to be’ for cultural tourism? Can it become a core area for leisure and retirement? Would modernizing the transportation infrastructure reinforce the competitive position of the European economy? How will trends in labour migration develop? ‘Standort Europa’ calls for a geographical interpretation of the Lisbon Agenda.

Towards Revitalized and Cohesive Cities
Europe has the richest and most extensive urban culture in the world. The urban scene is still dominated by historic cities that have responded to the new economic and transport realities. But massive migration flows, increasing social inequality, urban sprawl, deteriorating city districts, and traffic congestion are seriously undermining confidence in European models of social and urban development. Does the global cities model work in Europe? If not, do we need to conceive of Europe’s regional metropolises in new ways? There are complex social, economic, and governance problems that have to be addressed. But there are also many examples of successful city reconstruction and regeneration projects. The European approach to making cities balanced, liveable, and viable needs to be thoroughly analysed. The model should be re-engineered with respect to its form and function but also with a view to city planning and management.

The Changing Face of Rural Europe
Europe’s countryside is dynamic; changes in activities and functions are affecting European land use and landscapes. The different look of the countryside is giving rural Europe a new lease on life by generating new sources of livelihood. Change is certain, but its direction is not. The question is how to deal with this complex transition. Both the nature and the intensity of the transformation of Europe’s open space will vary widely across the continent. Where, how and at what rate will agriculture either continue to ‘industrialise’ and visibly disappear from the countryside or, alternatively, further explore the potential and sustainability of, for example, small scale organic farming and diversification of functions? Will Nature be cut back, be preserved, or be restored and developed? What about the residential function in rural Europe? Will it be limited to an increase of second homes, or will the countryside undergo further suburbanization? To what extent will rural areas host leisure, recreation, and tourism activities? The changing face of rural Europe will also affect developments in urbanized areas and the prospects for regional planning.

Genuine European: Culture, Identity, and Diversity
Europe is a conglomerate of countries. But Europe is also a compendium of ideas, traditions, institutions, and identities. It is not entirely clear what Europe is. What we do know is that cultural diversity is at the heart of the continent and requires European approaches to geographical issues. Much of this cultural diversity is a legacy – the contemporary use of Europe’s rich and diverse past. But whose legacy will be preserved or deemed worthy of preservation? What about the contribution of non-European immigrants to the European heritage? These questions pertain to the role of territorial identities, which are grounded in the bonds between people and places. An exploration of continuity and change in the territorial identities of Europe is highly topical, and so is an inquiry into how these identities affect regional-economic and urban development. The outcomes of such an inquiry should be translated into practical policy. Some of the gaps in knowledge are highly topical as well, as the following questions suggest: How does secularization and the rise of religious pluralism change the ‘territorial identity’ map of Europe? Will there be a European Islam? How does Europe deal with minority and gender issues? Does attention to the geography of Europe imply a need for a European approach in geography? 

Nature Strikes Back
The (over-) exploitation of Europe’s natural environment puts geography at the forefront of policy debates. The aim of the conference organizers is to stimulate discussion on the deterioration of the European environment. The aim of researchers should be to offer recommendations on the prevention of natural and environmental hazards, immediately and in the long run. Global change has to be looked at from a European perspective. Water management will be a major issue: the effects of rising sea levels, intermittently increasing water volumes in rivers and lakes, and the growing threat of flooding and erosion. But drought and the accompanying wildfires also pose a threat to Europe’s environment.

At the heart of the relationship between Man and Nature lies the interaction between demographic and economic development, on the one side, and the carrying capacity of the natural environment, on the other. Can Europe continue to cope with our ecological footprint in future? As human occupancy in environmentally vulnerable areas increases, so does the risk of damage and disaster. The challenge highlighted by the ‘Nature Strikes Back’ theme is addressed to researchers. They are called upon to analyse causes and effects and are expected to come up with recommendations for sustainable growth under the severe pressure of economic production and consumption patterns.

Balanced Multilevel Governance
The intricate political texture of Europe’s geospace raises penetrating questions among geographers and planners. Meanwhile, global geopolitical developments affect Europe’s position in the world. This interplay concentrates the minds of geographers and planners on continuity and change in the external relations of Europe, specifically with North America, East and South Asia, and Europe’s former colonies. Looking outward, the field is confronted with questions of hegemony and multipolarity in the world. Looking inward, policy-makers have to respond to a very serious challenge, namely that of designing and implementing acceptable, effective and sustainable forms of multilevel governance. Subsidiarity as well as internal and external border effects have to be redefined at all tiers levels of government. All territorial relationships need to be reconsidered: villages and urban districts versus municipalities; regions versus nation-states; and countries versus the European Union. Another challenge is how to chart the flows of capital and investment in relation to territorial systems. Moreover, as government evolves towards governance, it becomes imperative to chart the position of the numerous stakeholders. All in all, there is a need to find a new role for public policy in an era of privatization and decentralization. 

Download the second announcement (pdf)

Submit your abstract
(deadline 15 January 2007)

 

 
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