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Environmental competitiveness

[ Summary ]


Chapter 2:
Evaluating the environmental competitiveness of an area


How can an area’s environmental competitiveness be evaluated? In other words, how is it possible to evaluate the ability of local players to preserve, develop and enhance their environment, not only economically but also socially, culturally and aesthetically? As we have seen, the player/environment relationship is at the heart of this issue. In such a complex issue as this, some aspects are tangible, such as the way in which men and women treat the environment in their everyday lives, on farms, in business, etc. And then there aspects that are less immediately tangible underlying them, more difficult to change in the long term, i.e. the rules of the game and the deeply ingrained values that underpin people’s habits and behaviour.

Evaluating an area’s environmental competitiveness therefore means peeling away these various layers of the player/environment relationship in order to understand how they interact, starting with the most tangible aspects before proceeding to the more deep- rooted, but in the long term more decisive, issues. This calls for four stages of analysis:

  • The first stage is an inventory of the existing situation, seen from the angle of the potential and limitations of what is possible and tolerable in the relationship between players and their environment.

  • The second stage corresponds to the actual physical relationship between players and the environment, i.e. systems of exploitation and utilisation practices.

  • The third stage involves striving to ascertain which rules govern the terms of the relationship, in particular ownership rights, rights of use, etc.

  • Finally the fourth stage represents the values underpinning the players’ practices and behaviour towards the environment.

These four stages of analysis and their interactions can be applied to each of the various components of the area’s capital involved in the player/environment relationship. Four of the eight territorial capital components described in Part 1 are of particular relevance:

  • human resources, i.e. the local players themselves;

  • physical resources, i.e. everything to do with the environment itself;

  • the landscape, not only in terms of the spatial planning of the area’s physical resources but also as an embodiment of the concrete and real-life image of the area and its environment;

  • external relations and markets as a form of relationship between the local environment and players from outside the area (new consumer demands, global environmental concerns, etc.).

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