ESPON Policy Brief: Productive cities and metros

Since the very beginning, cities have been not only a place of trade but also a place of production. Built on the premise that certain characteristics of the industrial sector are particularly important for growth and transformation, recent policy concepts have shifted the emphasis, recognising the importance of industry for regional development. The New Leipzig Charter recognises the multifaceted dimensions of European cities, and alongside the just and green city, the productive city occupies an equally important place, as it ensures a sound financial base for sustainable urban development.

For documenting and highlighting the importance of industry in the economic development of urban agglomerations, this policy brief uses ESPON evidence. In particular, it builds on the idea that industry both serves as a catalyst for research and innovation for local economic systems, being a major driver of productivity and wage growth and ensures greater resilience when facing various crises.

Retaining industrial activities should constitute an important part of local policymakers’ strategies in order to maintain a diversified economic sector or high wages, in general. Industrial policies still remain a process of exploring unknown territory but should be open to new solutions, experiments and learning: a process in which policymakers and businesses should engage in an intensive dialogue. The results should be city/metro specific, bringing targeted approaches, and boosted by the dynamic of the green and digital transitions, whereby new technologies will change the face of manufacturing, deepening the complex and interdependent relationship with the service sector. The desired size of manufacturing or any other technologically advanced sector has to be in line with general policy goals and strategies with respect to resources and living conditions (ESPON, 2020b).


ESPON Policy Brief, Productive cities and metros.pdf

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