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Environmental competitiveness

[ Summary ]


Chapter 1:
From exploiting resources to environmental competitiveness


The environment is a leitmotif in virtually all local development programmes. It always figures in analyses and operational programmes, either as an aim and objective or as a development instrument. Certain local action groups in the LEADER Initiative always include it, either explicitly or implicitly, in their development measures by encompassing the measures within a sustainable development perspective. What is more, a good many LEADER areas include part, if not all, of a national or regional park or protected area.

In its strictest sense, the term environment refers solely to natural resources, i.e. land, water, fauna and flora. In its broader sense, it refers to everything that makes up the physical living environment of the area’s population, and so includes the architectural heritage. It is the latter sense that we confer on the term environment in this document.

The notion of environmental competitiveness refers to the ability of local players to “valorise” (preserve, develop and enhance) their environment. The term “valorise” should be taken in its broad sense: valorisation can be not only economic, but also ecological, social, cultural and aesthetic in nature. It is by taking all of these aspects into account that local players are able to resolve the evident conflict between exploitation and protection which still profoundly characterises the environmental issue.

In other words, by expanding the concept of valorisation to spheres other than the purely economic sphere, the environment emerges as both a product and an engine of territorial development, making it an essential component of the “territorial capital” defined in Part One (“Territorial Competitiveness”). According to this approach, preservation and valorisation are intricately linked and the two are encompassed within a dual perspective of competitiveness and sustainability.

A radically new approach is therefore taking shape around the idea of environmental competitiveness. It is an approach that breaks with the old, but still deeply entrenched, approaches outlined below.

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