Project Description


The EU is struggling to become "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion". It is common knowledge today that Europe is facing issues that were not on the political agenda at the creation of the EU, namely energy dependency, climate change, globalisation, scarcity of natural resources and the rise of a knowledge economy. These new global challenges were, for example, at the core of the 4th Cohesion Forum held in Brussels on 27-28 September 2007. At this occasion, José Manuel Barrsso, Michel Delebarre, Danuta Hübner as well as the other key note speakers, all mentioned, in one way or another, the new challenges facing the EU. In a globalised world, it is clear that all policies are in fact interrelated and mutually supportive and must be tackled with horizontal actions. PRESERVE will focus on landscape and cultural heritage policy for this holistic approach.

In this context, regions are key actors in developing innovative solutions that modernise their economic, socio-cultural and environmental policies. Also, tourism is a common denominator of all European regions, urban and rural, because each territory has a unique cultural heritage and landscape that deserve to be preserved. Having said that, many examples show that tourism can become a threat to the beauty and diversity of the European landscape, rather than a vehicle for economic growth, job creation or innovation, and thus may aggravate the new challenges facing the EU at this time. The UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) illustrates that tourism can have negative environmental, socio-cultural and economic impacts on the host communities. In other words, Regions must be careful when developing their cultural  heritage strategies, to think in sustainable terms and to use the right indicators, should they want to fully benefit from their tourism assets.

What is sustainability?

The UNEP defines the concept in the following way: “sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee its long-term sustainability” and adds that tourism policies must be integrated into all aspects of development if they are to be sustainable. Thus, the notion of transversal and horizontal actions is achieved by using this policy.

If properly managed, the development of sustainable forms of tourism in Regions, to help preserve and promote their cultural heritage and landscape, can be an important tool to respond to three of the four Lisbon and Göteborg objectives: 1) investing more in knowledge and innovation; 2) unlocking business potential; particularly of SMEs; 3) moving towards an efficient and integrated EU energy policy.

Carefully planned sustainable tourism should invest in the local population in terms of jobs and training, thus avoiding urban relocation, privileging local production of services and products. Sustainable tourism also encourages SMEs and innovation, thus contributing to the “entrepreneurship and SME” priority of Interreg IVC. Finally, sustainable tourism will monitor the impacts on the environment in terms of energy use and production, waste management and pollution of the natural landscape. Here, PRESERVE will also address the “biodiversity and preservation of natural heritage” priority of Interreg IVC.

PRESERVE contributes to the objectives set out in the Territorial Agenda and the Regions for Economic Change initiative. It will strengthen polycentric development and innovation through networking, promote new forms of partnership and territorial governance between rural and urban areas, strengthen the ecological structures and cultural resources and boost innovation.



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