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Territorial development and the economy, governance, and planning in border cities

RSA Blog
RSA Blog Europe Global North America

This blog follows the launch of the new book Border Cities and Territorial Development


The new book focuses on territorial development processes associated with border cities. In this light, the 12 chapters cut across not only economic, but also governance and cross-border planning processes and innovation, in both European and North American border cities, thus providing the reader with a holistic and territorial panorama of their importance to the development of the surrounding regions.


Main goals

In essence, this book is concerned with the analysis of the role of border cities to promote territorial development processes in border regions across the world. It embraces not only the fields of regional and urban studies, but also addresses territorial (urban, regional, local) development and planning theories, as well as the effects of development policies applied to border regions in both Europe and North America. In this light, this book offers a full toolkit of territorial development knowledge for border regions, and advances a range of policy development proposals aiming to provide a comprehensive introduction to contemporary thinking about border cities.

Its main themes analyze urban and regional development, as well as planning processes and policies, and their effects in border regions. In short, the following main objectives are to:

  • Highlight the potential role border cities have in the territorial development processes of border regions across the world;
  • Provide academics, students and policymakers with a thorough understanding of current debates around territorial development processes in border regions;
  • Offer a roadmap for territorial development theories and strategic policy guidelines, by providing evidence-based narratives of how border regions have been promoting territorial development and how these processes can be enhanced;
  • Introduce academics, students and policymakers, to a range of policy strategies essential to promote positive territorial development trends in border regions;
  • Fill a gap in the existing literature on how urban areas located in border regions have contributed to their positive territorial development process;
  • Provide a wealth of updated analysis of border cities, based on several case-studies covering north, south, west and eastern European borders (Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, and Slovakia) and the two North American borders (USA, Canada and Mexico).
  • Set the agenda for future work on border cities and their roles in border regional development;
  • Provide an update on what has been going on in key border regions, and show the value of multidisciplinary approaches to this subject matter.


Contribution to current literature

Considering these goals, this book fills a gap in available literature on urban and regional studies as well as border regions. Following from the main conclusions of the EU ‘Boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions’ initiative, border regions are mainly peripheral and lagging areas within a national context. However, they have the potential to be transformed into areas of growth and opportunities.

Such territorial development is generically understood as positive change in economic competitiveness, social cohesion, environmental sustainability, territorial governance and spatial planning processes, during a certain period, in a given territory. This requires not only a systematic reduction of all sorts of border barriers, but also a harmonization of legal-administrative procedures to increase trade, freedom of movement and, ultimately, local cross-border interaction.

Being the anchors of territorial development, cities and, in this case, border cities, play a vital role in stimulating economic activity, institutional cooperation, cross-border planning processes, and access to public services (e.g. hospitals, universities) for inhabitants living on both sides of the border.

In this context, this book provides the reader an almost complete set of case-studies from Europe and North America on how border cities have been implementing cross-border cooperation processes, with a view to developing their border region. From a policymaking perspective, the evidence can serve as a pool of best practice which could be replicated elsewhere.



Eduardo Medeiros is a Geography Professor and an Integrated Research Fellow in DINÂMIA’CET-IUL, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal. He has a Ph.D. in Geography – Regional and Urban Planning, and around 200 publications, including more than 50 published papers in international journals, 11 books and 16 book chapters. He is a DG REGIO (European Commission) an ESPON and URBACT III expert, and a Horizon 2020 evaluator. He is also a Regional Studies Association Fellow. He has coordinated several international policy evaluation projects and was a member of DG REGIO and ESPON projects. 


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