Thursday 24 September 2009


I was at an ESPON UK event recently. For those unfamiliar with ESPON, it stands for the European Spatial Planning Observation Network and there is a UK section which is administrated by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

What is ESPON for?

The main aim is to increase the general body of knowledge about territorial structures, trends and policy impacts in an enlarged European Union.

From the ESPON website, here's a run-down of the main objectives:
  • Diagnosis of the principal territorial trends at EU scale as well as potentials and imbalances within the European territory;
  • Impact analysis of EU policies and their influence on the territory and on cohesion;
  • European maps of major territorial structures and regional diversity within a wide range of themes important for the development of regions and larger territories;
  • Integrated, cross-sectoral analysis and spatial scenarios offering a European perspective on regions and larger territories and their development opportunities;
  • Indicators and typologies assisting a monitoring and setting of European priorities for a balanced and polycentric enlarged European territory;
  • Integrated tools and appropriate instruments (ESPON database, indicators, methodologies for territorial impact analysis and spatial analyses, mapping facilities) in order to improve the spatial co-ordination of sector policies.
Typically, the main things that people see from ESPON are lovely colourful maps covering the EU plus 4 other nations (to fill in the gaps).

ESPON also fund research.

So, that's ESPON.