For the 4th year in a row, Oikos held the information session on LIFE+ which is the largest EU  »bottom up« financial insturment for environment, organised by Stella Consulting and MWH for the European Commission. This year the event was held in Maribor with a record of almost 80 participants. Each year sees larger support and participation by the Ministry of the Environment and presentations of some of the past or ongoing co-financed projects. What about the participants? What does their structure and input say about environmental ideas in Slovenia? In these 4 years, the audience has shifted from largely nature conservation bunch, mostly of the usual NGO type, to SMEs and industry, institutes and PR agencies. The project ideas are more and more sparkling, often also very innovative and building on previous research just waiting to be used in practice. But… usually, one of the key points is missing – the European dimension. Small state – small mind one could say, as it is difficult to look beyond the borders – the perimeter of a good hour drive from Ljubljana in each direction. Mostly, the projects are striving to be the first of a certain type in Slovenia, perhaps with a regional partner from one of the neighbouring countries, and that’s it. On the average, this attitude lowers the quality of the projects that apply for LIFE+ funds. It is true that the number of successful projects has increased in the last 4 years, however, but so did the number of applications. Is such a narrow focus a limitation? Yes it is – not just for the use of LIFE+ funds, but also for environmental innovation and competitiveness of Slovene economy. The key solution to this is to build in the European dimension on all levels within Slovenia, and to stop being humble on the individual level. There are several great examples of environmental innovation, but there would be more if these great examples were keeping higher profile.

 

Technology megaplayer Google – known widely for attracting some of the most talented web developers in the world – is using its position as a large employer in a small city to encourage smart growth development. In a letter to the City of Mountain View, CA, where the company has its headquarters, Google encouraged planners to pursue sustainable development strategies. Mountain View is currently working to update its strategy for development, and asked for public input on the decisions to be made. In the letter Google VP David Radcliffe voiced the company’s support for “mixed-use development…along with the kind of land use development described in the Final Report by the Mountain View Environmental Sustainability Task Force.” The Task Force’s recommendations – which focus on strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – would improve the quality of life for Google’s 20,000 Mountain View employees, Radcliffe explained, as well as help the city fiscally and for the long-term. From the company’s letter:

We would encourage you to provide opportunities for the North Bayshore area to continue to be the center of sustainable development for Google’s HQ campus…[and] the model Silicon Valley community – leading the way with visionary development opportunities to create the most efficient, sustainable and fiscally supportive plan to the community of Mountain View and the North Bayshore area.

Google’s support of innovative growth strategies is in line with President Obama’s State of the Union address in January. In that speech, the President emphasized that in order to stay competitive in a global, 21st century economy, America will have to invest strategically in innovative infrastructure projects that reduce our dependence on oil and spur economic growth. The Final Report of Mountain View’s Environmental Task Force reaches many of these same conclusions – advocating for a balance between jobs and housing, increased public transportation usage in the region, a green business certification system, a pedestrian master plan and preservation of open land among many, many other things. While Mountain View’s primary intent is to reduce carbon emissions, in accordance with California’s planning laws, smart growth development strategies like these create many benefits for the community. Locating housing closer to jobs, schools and stores means stronger businesses, lower costs for the local government and a better economy too. Google is a prime example of how this can benefit large companies as well. By creating better housing and transportation options, Mountain View can help Google grow and be a beneficial member of its business community for years to come.

via Smart growth in demand: Google asks Mountain View, CA for mixed-use development | Smart Growth America.

 

Why Smart Growth?

On March 13, 2011, in Smart news from others, by Oikos
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Health, schools, taxes, traffic, the environment, economic growth, fairness, opportunity—many of the things we care about—are all affected by development decisions. From the length of our daily commute to the price of a new home to the safety of our neighborhoods-what, where, and how we build have major impacts on our personal lives, our com munities, and our nation.

Growth presents a tremendous opportunity for progress. Communities around the country are looking for ways to get the most out of new development and to maximize their investments. Frustrated by development that requires residents to drive long distances between jobs and homes, many communities are challenging rules that make it impossible to put workplaces, homes, and services closer together. Many communities are questioning the fiscal wisdom of neglecting existing infrastructure while expanding new sewers, roads, and services into the fringe. And in many communities where development has improved daily life, the economy, and the environment, smart growth principles have been key to that success.

Growth is “smart” when it gives us great communities, with more choices and personal freedom, good return on public investment, greater opportunity across the community, a thriving natural environment, and a legacy we can be proud to leave our children and grandchildren.

When communities choose smart growth strategies, they can create new neighborhoods and maintain existing ones that are attractive, convenient, safe, and healthy. They can foster design that encourages social, civic, and physical activity. They can protect the environment while stimulating economic growth. Most of all, we can create more choices for residents, workers, visitors, children, families, single people, and older adults-choices in where to live, how to get around, and how to interact with the people around them. When communities do this kind of planning, they preserve the best of their past while creating a bright future for generations to come.

Adapted from the PDF “This is Smart Growth,” published by ICMA and EPA in 2006.

via Why Smart Growth? || Smart Growth Online.

 

Nature conservation seems to have gone the other way as competitivness did. Both will need to merge in order to best serve regions and thier specialization needs.
Nature conservated areas are not isolated sites but potential for regional specialization. By developing value chain nature can offer sustainable and valuable source for branding, specialized products, energy efficincy projects and others.
But nature conservation and regional development will need to focus to specialization in order to get it done. Natura 2000, species, directives will have their point if coordinated with regional competitivness factors.
Nature conservation is a tool for smart specialization while management plans for protected areas are place based intervention.

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Business advise #1

On March 11, 2011, in Regional growth, by Jurij Kobal
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Regions are in close corelation with business. Regional growth is fully depending on business growth. But be carefull regions need to develop skills and tools to invite business in development and vise versa. So do business peole need to get involved in regional strategies development and implmentation. Hand in hand would be the right choice here.
Business community rarely understands regional strategies and does not even have a will to understand. Also we will need to develop skils to get involved.
Only regions with close business relations will prevail.

 

This month we are presenting our colleague Barbara Gašperlin. Visit Our People site for interview. And of course visit her private business site IZ BARBARINE ŠIVALNICE.

 

Regions with Leadership

On March 9, 2011, in Regional growth, by Jurij Kobal
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Regional strategies will need to be based and lead by regional leaders in order to be succesful. It is evident that only regions with strong leadership were and will be successful in the future.
While regional agencies and other implementing organizations remain tools for regional development leadres will have to take resposnsibilities and fruits of implemting strong strategies.
Leaders will build on strong coordination, partnership, formal and non formal institutions and smart specialization of regions. They will need to combine all these tools with financial engeneering and business community that is the only guarantee for the future of any region in the world.
Start now, only the quick will survive. Regional leadres wake up and strat growing your knowledge of real regional potentials and calculate. Calculate for real and not for dreams. Build your strategies on real market possibilities and understand your unique selling points. Region is business not a place in warm heaven. Understand that funds availabe are for investments in growth not in spending. Build your ready to go projects and build your brand which will help you get there.
Where? Well that is what you need to understand.

 

New funding opportunities Environment

On March 7, 2011, in Growth funding, by Oikos
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European commission lunches new funding opportunities for environmental projects from the LIFE

 

Paper to be presented at What Future of the Cohesion Policy? conference at Bled next month builds on existing research and regular evaluations of the Operational Programme of Environmental and Transport Infrastructure Development adopted in 2008 by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia. It aims to illustrate the implementation of the Resolution on Transport Policy of the Republic of Slovenia (2006) and its impact on sustainable development of Slovenia. Special attention will be given to its relation to the Spatial Development Strategy of Slovenia (2004), because the two documents have a common aim of developing a suitable transport infrastructure for land transport, as well as for maritime and air transport. This paper presents the positive impacts of national traffic policy implementation observed thus far, the policy contribution to the opening of Slovenia internationally, the establishment of connections between major urban centres and the enhancement of traffic flow efficiency and mobility inside these conurbations. An examination of functional regions and migrations revealed some negative impacts of national traffic policy implementation, which has been predominantly focused on the construction of the motorway network. This has mainly strengthened the gravitational influence of major urban centres, while the role of regional development centres was neglected. The presented results of a research based on the analysis of national transport infrastructure suitability in the light of territorial cohesion (Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion, 2008), which is widely perceived as a spatial dimension of sustainable development (ESPON 3.2., 2006) in which economical, social and environmental aspects are combined (Camagni, R., 2005; in ESPON 3.2., 2006). The methodological approach for the evaluation of national transport infrastructure suitability was based on the evaluation of objectives contained in SDSS (2004) that are directly related to transport networks. In the conclusion, we discuss the suitability and efficiency of the Slovenian transport network with regard to cross-border cooperation and openness of Slovenia to the European Union with established links to European transport corridors, as well as the implementation of internal development goals and strengthening the territorial cohesion on the national level.