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ESPON has a new director: Wiktor Szydarowski

Wiktor Szydarowski is since September 2020 the new director of the ESPON EGTC. What is his vision and priorities for the implementation of the ESPON Programme?

TerritoriALL: What is ESPON for you?

Wiktor: I would like to share four simple points on how ESPON should be understood.

ESPON connects governments, researchers and practitioners to help them cope with the ever-changing development challenges and potential in Europe and respond to them with adequate policies.

ESPON helps decision-makers to see how their cities, regions and countries perform in terms of economy, society and the environment. And it offers advice on how to perform even better.

ESPON truly inspires policy-making in the 27 EU Member States and in the ESPON partner countries.

ESPON offers free data, knowledge and visuals to every interested stakeholder - including to you, the reader of this magazine!

TerritoriALL: What is your vision for ESPON?

Wiktor: To deepen the recognition of ESPON as a herald of place-sensitive policy decisions at all levels and to reinforce the message of worthiness to be part of the ESPON community.

And I will dedicate all my powers - my research background, policy development competence, programme and project management experience and networking skills - to making this vison real as head of a highly motivated team of professionals at the ESPON EGTC.

For me, the ESPON community is a meeting place for all interested in making policies as effective as possible, irrespective of sectoral profile they represent, their decision mandate or their awareness of territorial aspects. It should be welcoming for those already involved in our territorial evidence production and knowledge-sharing activities, as well as for those who for various reasons have not found our offer interesting or relevant yet.

 TerritoriALL: How can we encourage a more territorial approach t o t he design of post-2020 programmes?

Wiktor: All policy decisions, no matter what governmental level they are taken at, have a certain territorial context. Their assumptions and effects relate not only to the geographical area under the jurisdiction of the authority behind them but also to the adjacent areas and even areas located further away. If we do not factor these territorial interrelations into the decision-making process, we will find it harder to address development challenges and make the most of development potential.

" My vision is to deepen the recognition of ESPON as a herald of place-sensitive policy decisions at all levels and to reinforce the message of worthiness to be part of the ESPON community."

So the territorial approach we promote through ESPON actions brings in just such considerations. Do we want one-size-fits-all policies or place-based ones? A standardised palette of priorities across the European Union, or priorities that - in harmony with the Union's overall strategic objectives - are tailored to the economic, human and environmental capital of the territory in question?

The language we need to speak to advocate for the latter types of policies and priorities - ones that address territories' specific development opportunities and threats, and, in addition, take note of aspirations in the adjacent geographical areas - needs to be clear and easy to comprehend. With so much evidence on the territorial dimension of policy-making gathered already, we can be much more effective in reaching out to decision-makers working on post-2020 programmes at European, national, regional and local levels. This will require concise, sharp and alluring policy recommendations, which we must create and deliver through ESPON.

This article appears in the A regional geography of COVID-19 Issue of TerritoriALL

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This article appears in the A regional geography of COVID-19 Issue of TerritoriALL