Home Link to Mountain areas Link to Islands Link to SPA Link to Coasts Link to Outermost Regions Link to Border areas Link to Inner Peripheries

Partner Name Territorial responsibility Transversal Theme
LP University of Geneva University of Geneva (CH) Highly populated areas Regional identity and cultural heritage as factors of development
PP2 Alterra Alterra (NL) Inner periphery Accessibility and access to services of general interest
PP3 Perth College Perth College (UK) Mountain areas Protected areas and biodiversity as factors of development
PP4 Ecubed Consultants E-Cubed Consultants Ltd. (MT) Islands Residential attractiveness
PP5 Nordregio Nordregio (SE) Sparsely populated areas Economic vulnerability / robustness facing globalisation
PP6 LLA Louis Lengrand & Associés (FR) Outermost regions Role of Information and Communication Technologies
PP7 CEPS CEPS/INSTEAD (LU) Border regions (metropolitan) -
PP8 Leibniz Institute Leibniz Institute of Ecological and Regional Development (DE) Border regions (external borders and border areas of New Member States) -
PP9 NUI Cork National University of Ireland Cork (IE) Coasts Natural resource exploitation
PP10 Umweltbundesamt Federal Environmental Agency Austria (AT) - Ecological vulnerability / climate change

The ESPON GEOSPECS Transnational Project Group (TPG) combines experts on mountains, islands, sparsely populated areas, highly populated areas, inner peripheries, outermost regions and border regions with good knowledge of general context of Territorial Cohesion policies. The TPG is transdisciplinary and transnational, with 10 countries represented. The Department of Geography of the University of Geneva (LP) is in charge of the overall coordination of the project in its scientific, financial and reporting aspects (WP 1). Research activities (WP2) are organised by a coordination committe including the LP, Alterra (PP2) and Perth College (PP3). The other project partners contribute through the study of individual categories of geographic specificities and the responsibility for transversal themes. They will also carry out case studies, and organise consultations with stakeholders concerned by the geographic specificity they analyse.

University of Geneva:

The GEOSPECS project will be coordianted by Erik Gløersen, who has extensive experience working in the field of applied territorial research, both within ESPON (project leader for ESPON TeDI and ESPON 1.1.1, participation in ESPON 1.4.1 and ESPON-INTERACT studies, compilation of the ESPON NUTS 5 database...) and outside. The team also includes professors Frédéric Giraut & Bernard Debarbieux who have strong experiences of applied and comparative research in spatial planning and regional development, especially through studies on remote, mountainous and peripheral areas for the World Bank (FG), the French territorial policy agency DIACT (ex-DATAR), the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FG). Dr Jacques Michelet is a specialist of regional policies in the Alpine context with both qualitative and quantitative expertise (incl. GIS/mapping). He has extensive experience producing applied territorial research results for regional stakeholders.


Alterra is part of Wageningen University and Research Centre and is the leading Dutch research institute linked to the sustainable green environment. Rural development, spatial planning, Climate change are some key-topics of research.
The interdisciplinary research approach and the ability to translate fundamental scientific insights into applicable solutions are renowned. This includes the design of typologies and strategies concerning sustainable development. Alterra is partner in the Partnership for European Environmental Research (PEER) to combine the forces of the 7 largest European environmental research centres.
Alterra has a strong international network with respect to both research and policy making. Relevant European research projects are: EURURALIS – studying impact of policies for rural development; FARO - on rural typologies and the identification of drivers for rural development; SENSOR - on Sustainability Impact Assessment related to multifunctional land use.

Perth College:

Perth College is an academic partner of the UHI Millennium Institute, the future University of the Highlands and Islands. The main emphasis of its Centre for Mountain Studies (CMS) is the sustainable development of mountain areas at all scales, from Scotland to global. Its Director, Prof Martin Price, has coordinated major studies on European mountains for DG REGIO (2002-4) and the EEA (2008-10), as well as activities on biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, both in Europe and globally, for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The CMS is lead partner for Clim-ATIC, the largest project (€2.4 million) funded by the Northern Periphery Programme – on local adaptation to climate change – and has been a partner in FP6 projects on global change in mountain regions and on quality mountain foods. It organises conferences and workshops at all scales from Scottish to global, particularly on global/environmental/climate change and biodiversity.

E-Cubed Consultants :

The team at E-Cubed Consultants has a rich history of projects on islands and has a special expertise on Small Island States. Being based on the island of Malta gives the consultants a first hand experience of the development challenges and opportunities on islands and a deeper understanding of the conflicts and trade-offs islanders often have to face. Recent projects on islands include the TeDi Territorial Diversitiy in Europe project for ESPON, a Human Resources Strategy for the island of Gozo, and the ERAPRISM project for the Malta Council for Science and Technology focusing on small states. The company's main consultants have also been involved in various publications concerning resilience and vulnerability of islands and small states both at Commonwealth and EU level.


Nordregio has a solid track record in both coordinating and participating in pan-European projects aiming at developing scientifically sound and policy relevant evidence on spatial planning and territorial development policies. Nordregio has been heavily engaged in activities related to European spatial planning by taking the leadership on three large projects in the ESPON 2006 programme (1.1.1, 2.2.1, and 2.3.1), and participated in many others as core partner. With regards to the topic of the present project proposal, development potentials in territories with geographic specificities, Nordregio has developed an unmatched competence in Europe on these issues thanks to: the coordination of the study on Mountain areas in Europe (2004) for the Commission, the elaboration of a analytical framework and foresight exercise on Northern Sparsely Populated areas of Europe and the leadership on the ongoing ESPON Territorial Diversity project.

Louis Lengrand & associés:

Created in 1995, Louis Lengrand & associés provides research services and consulting focusing on policy studies and project management. LL&A carries out the following main types of assignments: Research and studies: analytical and strategic studies, national and regional public policies, benchmarking, quantitative and qualitative surveys; Co-ordination and project management; Consulting: preparation of dedicated strategies and action plans and technical assistance.
LL&A possesses a strong expertise in the analysis of geographic and socio-economic aspects of the Outermost regions. LL&A has indeed carried out 4 research studies launched by the European Commission on the Outermost regions since 2001, all including thorough economic assessments; Several economic studies for public authorities from the French outermost regions; Analytical work on the socio-economic implications of the possible change in the status of the Netherlands Antilles (from OCT to an Outermost region).


The CEPS/INSTEAD is a major research institution in social sciences in Luxembourg with more than 120 staff, including social policy analysts, economists, sociologists, and geographers. The Department of Geography is composed of 20 geographers who have developed particular expertise in the field of cross-border metropolitan integration in Europe. Areas of interest include: the functional and institutional dynamics of cross-border metropolitan areas, the role of national borders in differentiating political, economic and cultural systems, and their new importance as interfaces for promoting exchanges, co-operation, and economic competitiveness. The research team is already engaged in several projects in Luxembourg and in Europe: the METROLUX Project (2007-2009), funded by the National Research Fund of Luxembourg, the METROBORDER Project (2009-2011) funded by ESPON dealing with cross-border polycentric metropolitan areas in Europe, and URBACT II (2007-2013), a study programme from the EU.

Leibniz Institute of Ecological and Regional Development:

The Leibniz Institute of Ecological and Regional Development (IOER) undertakes research into the requirements for sustainable, environmentally compatible regional, urban, and landscape development. Institute researchers investigate interdependencies between land use and the natural environment, evaluate strategies, and develop approaches to sustainable spatial development in both the national context and on a European and international scale. Climate change and demographic change and their impact on future environmental and spatial development play a major role. The results of this research provide actors in politics and society with an important basis for planning and policy decisions. Issues of European spatial development are addressed by all research areas. Furthermore, IOER research places special emphasis on ecological interests in the development of border regions and on transformation processes in Central, Eastern, and South-East Europe.

National University of Ireland Cork:

The Coastal Governance Group of the Coastal and Marine Resources Centre has been actively researching the field of sustainable coastal development for over a decade and possess extensive experience and expertise within this thematic area. Research initially focused on coastal zone management, and has since expanded to cover a broader coastal governance research agenda, including innovative research in: systems approach for improved governance; capacity building / training to support coastal planning and management; marine spatial planning; application of Ecosystem Approach to fisheries management; use of scenario science / visualisation technology to plan for coastal change; mechanisms for improved participatory governance; and adaptation to climate change. This body of work is built upon a successful track record in collaborative research within European Framework (5th 6th and 7th) and transnational-interregional projects, and has contributed to improving the science–policy interface.

Austrian Environment Agency:

The Austrian Environment Agency (“Umweltbundesamt”) was founded in 1985 as a national government agency attached to the Federal Ministry for the Environment. In 1999, its statute was redefined as a government-owned limited liability company. The EAA is the only Austrian specialist institution which deals with all areas of environmental protection on a nation-wide basis and whose single task it is to protect the environment.
On the national level, the Agency co-ordinates environmental monitoring and reporting in cooperation with the nine Provincial Authorities, and operates the related national environmental registers and databases on air quality, air emissions, hazardous chemicals, wastes, contaminated sites, water and soil quality etc. On the international level, one of the key legal functions of the EAA is to assure national cooperation with the European Environment Agency (e.g. in carrying out spatial assessments and and policy applied research of mountain and rural regions).

Photo This project is part-financed by the EU
The contents of this website does not necessarily reflect the opinion
of the ESPON monitoring committee