Territorial impact refers to the economic, social, fiscal and environmental benefits of the activity of a company or a project at different scales in a given territory. Taking territorial impact into account has become essential in urban planning and economic development, as it ensures sustainable and responsible development. The concept of territorial impact has evolved significantly over time, this article explores its history and how it has shaped policies and strategies at the local and regional levels.
1 - Historical roots of territorial impact
The study of territorial impact dates back to the first civilizations, where resource management and spatial organization were crucial for community development. Early cities were often built on sites that offered natural benefits, such as access to water, agricultural land, or communication routes. The leaders of these cities needed to make decisions that balanced economic, social, and environmental needs (Bretzels, 2019).
2 - The industrial turning point
With the industrial revolution, territorial impact took on a new dimension. Rapid industrialization has led to major changes in the spatial organization of cities and regions, focusing on urbanization, infrastructure development, and natural resource management. This period laid the foundations for modern studies on territorial impact, underlining the links between economic development, population migration and environmental transformation (Court of Auditors, 2022).
3 - The post-industrial era and sustainable development
In the post-industrial era, the focus has moved to sustainability and social responsibility. The understanding of territorial impact has been enriched, highlighting the importance of balancing economic growth and environmental conservation. The concepts of sustainable development and ecological footprint have reinforced the need to assess the impact of human activities on territories in a holistic manner (Ascher, 2001).
The evolution of Open Data has considerably influenced the understanding of territorial impact. Increased transparency and access to public data have allowed a more detailed analysis of the economic, social and environmental impacts of activities on territories. Open Data has also promoted innovation in territorial management and strengthened citizen participation in decision-making processes.
4 - Territorial Impact in the current context
Today, territorial impact is at the heart of regional and urban development strategies. With the advent of information and communication technologies, globalization and environmental challenges, decision makers have at their disposal more sophisticated tools to measure and manage territorial impact. These tools allow for finer analysis and more reactive planning, adapted to contemporary challenges (European Commission, 2020).
The integration of new methods for measuring societal impact, such as ESG indicators and impact investing, has renewed the territorial impact approach. These tools provide more comprehensive information on the effects of economic actions on the social fabric and the environment, allowing for more balanced and responsible planning. The rise of the circular economy and the focus on sustainable development have also highlighted the importance of considering territorial impact from a holistic perspective.
The concept of territorial impact has considerably developed and refined over time, adapting to changes in our societies and the environment. Nowadays, the aspiration of businesses and individuals to generate a positive impact is becoming more and more crucial. The evolution of practices such as Open Data and the measurement of societal impact has enriched the concept of territorial impact. Increased accessibility to data and new assessment methods have allowed a better understanding and management of territorial impacts. This development highlights the importance of the continued commitment of public and private actors for balanced and sustainable territorial development.
Sources and references:
- Pretzels, F. (2019). The territorial impact of economic activities. Paris: The French Documentation.
- Court of Auditors. (2022). The impact of infrastructure projects on territories. Paris: Court of Auditors.
- European Commission. (2020). The Territorial Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
- Ascher, F. (2001). The impact of economic activities on the territory. Paris: Economica.
- Benko, G., & Lipietz, A. (2000). The wealth of the regions. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
- Pecquer, B. (2001). Local development. Paris: The French Documentation.