ESPON TERRES aims to unpack territorial resilience to support spatial planning and urban development, strengthening the absorptive, adaptive and transformational governance capacities of European regions in the context of long-term multi-crisis trajectories. The project aims to guide the future generation of EU Cohesion and sectoral policies by providing a conceptual and analytical framework for characterising “territorial resilience” as a multi-dimensional and dynamic concept.

The notion of territorial resilience developed in ESPON TERRES overcomes current policy paradigms to emphasize a lasting shift towards learning capacities, institutional innovation, cultural norms, and community values. Regional resilience is understood as a capacity not just to absorb and adapt to external shocks (‘bouncing back’ perspective) but also to address the transformational capabilities to deal with and be ready for both present and impending crises (‘bouncing forwards’ approach). These principles contribute to improving the understanding and to unlocking the opportunities implicit in the concept of territorial resilience, overcoming policy and research siloes through fruitful dialogue among researchers (the scientific level), policy-makers (the normative level) and practitioners (the operational level).

The specific activities in the ESPON TERRES project are as follows:

  1. Define the concept of territorial resilience according to a comprehensive review of scientific literature, desk research on European policies and previous ESPON projects, and insights from a series of workshops with the Stakeholder Group.
  2. Collect regional-level data related to territorial resilience to set a panel of indicators similar to those included in the JRC Resilience Dashboard. The set of indicators will be integrated with additional data not available at the regional level in public databases, distinguishing the absorptive, adaptive and transformative capacities of territorial resilience.
  3. The database will be compiled into a Regional Resilience Dashboard for the European regions, including a synthetic Index of Regional Resilience, which will be deployed via an interactive mapping tool and ad-hoc communication materials.
  4. Conduct an in-depth analysis of various European regions/cities on their efforts to achieve territorial resilience. The case studies will include both qualitative and quantitative methods and will be comprised of desk research and a series of Futures Workshops;
  5. Develop policy recommendations on how to better embed the concept of ‘territorial resilience’ into territorial policymaking at all scales, including: 1) a macro-level framework and a package of solutions targeted at the EU and national policy levels, alongside 2) a set of specific policy recommendations targeted at the regional level and local stakeholders.