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Dear readers

Finding balance between urban development and preservation of natural land is not an easy exercise. According to the EEA “about three fourths of the land take in the EU occurs on agricultural land. Cities have been built on the most fertile soils”, as Mirco Bardero policy officer of the Agency writes in his article.

We need to build houses and infrastructure, but we also need to protect nature and ensure that our environment remains in a good shape. This is why in this issue we say “Take no land no more” as we explore the EU objective to achieve a balance between urban development and preservation of natural land by 2050.

No net land take has become a high priority topic for the European Institutions. “Soil is a source of life, is critical for biodiversity and plays a critical role in the climate transition”, as noted by the three EESC rapporteurs. 
But, “despite its paramount importance, soil health remains an overlooked issue.Many stakeholders perceive it as a luxury, rather than the basis needed for sustainable development”, underlines Frida Nilson, CoR’s rapporteur on soil monitoring and resilience.

In ESPON we worked a lot on the No net land take objective, with a flagship project -SUPER- but also with events and publications. My colleagues, Marjan and Nikos, present them in an article. 

No net land take is one of the main priorities of the Belgian EU Presidency, and the Vice-President of Wallonia explains how the Walloon Region uses two territorial planning tools to address the challenges of “maximal land preservation, as well as efficient and consistent land use through urbanisation” -what he describes as spatial optimisation.

And experts from the Department of Environment and Spatial Development of Flanders explain how Flanders, being one of the most intensively used and inhabited regions in Europe, addresses the challenges in striking a balance between growth and preserving open space.
Alexandre Petit, of the IDELUX Group, adds that “close cooperation among those responsible for territorial planning in the various territories is necessary for the coordination of territorial planning policies from a sustainable development perspective”.

And Thomas Deridder, Director-General, Destrée Institute, adds the cross-border and interregional element of cooperation on urbanisation strategies to address climate change. 

Henk Bouwman, secretary general of METREX, finds it positive that no net land take policies pause the process of further urban expansion, allowing more time to develop and exchange solutions to come back with a better one.

Serena Lisai from the ACR+ notes that “If we develop policies mainly around energy efficiency, we risk underestimating the environmental impact of sustainable buildings in terms of land use and material resources”. 

OECD’s Rudiger Ahrend and his colleagues clarify that “smart spatial planning does not just aim to reduce artificial land cover. It also promotes sufficiently densely populated settlements that are well connected by public transport”.

But what is the land without its people? In this issue we also host an article by MEP Cristina Maestre, rapporteur of the Harnessing talents in EU Regions report, that calls the Member States to have greater flexibility when establishing priorities within programmatic objectives to be able to favour regions that lose population in a severe and permanent manner. 

Enjoy your reading

This article appears in Take no land no more: soil matte

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Take no land no more: soil matte
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Wiktor Szydarowski, ESPON EGTC Director
How is Wallonia addressing the challenge of spatial optimisation?
Vice-President of Wallonia, Minister of Economy, Foreign Trade, Research and Innovation, Digital, Agriculture, Territorial Planning, IFAPME, and Competence Centres.
Boosting talent in the EU
Cristina Maestre Martin De Almagro, Member of the European Parliament
Land take in the EU Soil Policy
Mirco Barbero, Policy officer, Soil Protection and Sustainable Land Use DG Environment, European Commission
No net land take in simple words
Marjan van Herwijnen and Nikos Lampropoulos, ESPON EGTC
European soil health framework: why soil matters - the local and regional perspectives
Frida Nilsson, CoR rapporteur, member of Lidköping municipal council (Sweden)
The implications of land take, urban sprawl and soil sealing for people, businesses and the environment
Nicoletta Merlo, Stoyan Tchoukanov, Florian Marin, EESC members and rapporteurs
ESPON Week in Mons | 5 & 6 June
Seminar theme: No net land take - policies an practices in European regions
No land take in a cross-border metropolitan context: Province of Luxembourg and Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Alexandre Petit, Head of territorial strategy department, IDELUX Group
Comparative analysis of the concepts of soil sealing and land take in major European cities
Antoine Decoville and Valérie Feltgen, geographers, Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER).
Urbanisation strategies for transregional or transnational valleys facing climate change
Thomas Deridder, Director-General and Christian Bastin, Associate Researcher, Destrée Institute
No net land take policies, a recurring metropolitan affair?
Henk Bouwman, secretary general of METREX
Calling a halt to land take in Flanders
Margo Bienstman, Ann Pisman, Isabelle Loris and Stijn Vanderheiden, Department of Environment and Spatial Development Flanders
Built environment: Connecting the dots of circularity
Serena Lisai, Project Officer, Built Environment Thematic Lead, ACR+
Land Use Policies: Local Solutions for Global Challenges
Rudiger Ahrend, Andres Fuentes, Jaebeum Cho, Matteo Schleicher, OECD
A tool for improving land use: RUDIFUN
Arjan Harbers, Martijn Spoon and Hans van Amsterdam, PBL
Affordable and adequate housing - a common goal in the face of diverse contexts
Selim Banabak, University Assistant, Franziska Sielker, Professor of Urban and Regional Research, Institute of Spatial Planning, TU Wien
New calls for tenders
Strategic Autonomy Rules for Trade in European Regions
Flash back
ESPON seminar@Cuenca
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