3 mins


As we live through yet another COVID-19 year, in TerritoriALL we seek answers to a fundamental question: what is quality of life?

Wikt or Szydarowski, ESPON EGTC Director

Dear readers,

As we live through yet another COVID-19 year, in TerritoriALL we seek answers to a fundamental question: what is quality of life? For policymakers, it is the ultimate goal and the driving force when designing public policies. For people, it is what makes a place worth living in, working in or visiting. But do we all share the same understanding of and values for what matters in our lives? Has the pandemic been changing our perceptions and priorities, and is it possible to measure the impact of public policies on what we consider essential in our lives? 

Evidence from ESPON research, summarised in our recent policy brief on the Quality of Life, which we published together with the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, shows that we can measure this impact even at the territorial level. 

And Andrej Vizjak, the Minister for the Environment and Spatial Planning of Slovenia, underlines that quality of life is among the main priorities of the Slovenian Presidency, and notes that quality of life is an individual and societal value with a territorial dimension.

Policies affect the quality of life through different channels, says Romina Boarini, Director of the Centre for Well-Being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity of the OECD, while describing the impact of COVID-19 on people’s lives and the effort to build back better after the pandemic.

ut we cannot have an economic recovery without maintaining sound social security for all and implementing the principle of solidarity, notes Andrej Zorko, EESC Workers’ Group member.
How successful recovery will be, depends greatly on our ability to respond to these new challenges, to make sure that the transition to the ‘new normal’ does not leave rural areas behind, points out Massimiliano Mascherini, Head of the Social Policies Unit in Eurofound.

Smart villages can support this effort and improve access to services for rural areas, helping citizens take ownership and responsibility for their territories, explains Frank Bogovic, Member of the European Parliament and co-chair of the Intergroup on Rural, Mountainous and Remote Areas.

Participatory planning is also the quest of the international consultation ‘Luxembourg in transition’. Marie-Josée Vidal, Director-General of the Department of Spatial Planning, analyses the process of developing a more sustainable territorial vision that will create an integrated cross-border functional region.

Similarly, Sandrine De Meyer, from Perspective.Brussels, describes how Belgium is exploring synergies between the Territorial Agenda 2030 and the Urban Agenda to protect open spaces and limit urban sprawl

Things are more complex when it comes to places with a great diversity of natural and cultural environments, such as the Alps. For Alenka Smerkolj, Secretary-General of the Alpine Convention, quality of life is hard to define, as every person understands and perceives it differently. That is why underlying data is key for policymaking

An example of how to use data to support policymaking is the Atlas on Quality of Life in Slovenia, which aims to place quality of life in Slovenia in a European context, with a selection of the 40 most representative indicators.

Lili Madjar, Director of the Regional Agency of the Ljubljana Urban Region, reminds us that the concept of quality of life also differs among regions, and these different perceptions should be considered when planning development and measuring the results achieved.

Culture and tourism are two aspects that are directly linked to quality of life. Victoria Ateca-Amestoy and Andreas Joh. Wiesand from the ESPON HERIWELL project and Cristina Nuñez, Director of NECSTouR, provide us with insights into how these two sectors can support well-being and local economies in the post-pandemic era. 

Finally, you can always read the latest insights from our ESPON projects and publications, and also see an update of activities for the upcoming French EU Council Presidency.

Enjoy your reading!

This article appears in Quality of Life

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Quality of Life
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Wiktor Szydarowski, Director, ESPON EGTC
Integrating Quality of Life into policymaking
Andrej Vizjak, Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning of Slovenia
The international consultation “Luxembourg in Transition”
Marie-Josée Vidal, Director-General, Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning, Luxembourg
Belgian Proposal for a Pilot Actions on Territorial Agenda 2030
Sandrine De Meyer, Brussels Region
Smart villages for a better life in rural areas
Franc Bogovič, Member of the European Parliament
Quality of life: putting people and places at the centre of policy
Romina Boarini, Director, OECD WISE Centre
The economic and social impact of COVID-19 in rural and urban areas
Massimiliano Mascherini, Eurofound Head of Unit Paola Asja Butera, Eurofound traninee
Measuring the quality of life
ESPON presentation
Quality of life in the Alps
Alenka Smerkolj, Secretary General of the Alpine Convention
Incorporating the concept of quality of life in Slovenia’s development policies
Lilijana Madjar, Development Council of Cohesion Region Zahodna Slovenia
What is quality of life?
Jorge L. Vega Valle, Inmaculada González Agejas, Sigurdur Arnason, Eedi Sepp
Quality of work for the quality of life
Andrej Zorko, member of the EESC Workers' Group
Territorial quality of life as a common property for citizens
Carlo Sessa, Research director at ISINNOVA
Cultural heritage impacts in "corona" times: the HERIWELL population survey
Victoria Ateca-Amestoy, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU Andreas Joh. Wiesand, European Institute for Comparative Cultural Research
Atlas on Quality of Life in Slovenia
Janez Nared, senior research fellow, Anton Melik Geographical Institute
Post-pandemic tourism reactivation: good practices from European destinations
Cristina Nunez, NECSTouR Director
Rethinking government fit for digital age
Martin Gauk, Project Expert - Data, Toolbox and IT ESPON EGTC
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our way of working
Michaela Gensheimer, Senior Project Expert ESPON EGTC
Quality of life in metropolitan areas – Metropolitan City of Turin perspective
Claudia Fassero, Head of European and International Programs and Projects Unit, Metropolitan City of Turin
What futures for the Danube and Adriatic Ionian macro-regions in 2050
Maria Topsidou, policy adviser, spatial planning
(Re)assembling metro regions
Andreea China, project expert, ESPON EGTC
Promoting sustainable urbanization and land-use in your region
David Evers, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Ivana Katurić, URBANEX Giancarlo Cotella, Politecnico di Torino
Opportunities for the regional development of the new ESPON interregional data on trade of goods
Carlos Llano Verduras, CEPREDE Xabier Velasco Echeverría, NASUVINSA
Regional Strategies for Sustainable and Inclusive Territorial Development
ESPON presentation
ESPON 2030: Kicking off the consultation on the first Thematic Actions Plans!
ESPON Programme Managing Authority
Looking ahead in times of uncertainty: having the resolve to move on from a winter of discontent towards … a glorious summer?
Marie-Lorraine Dangeard, senior expert General directorate operational and strategic support
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