Looking ahead to 2020

Looking ahead to 2020

The PLAT.F.O.R.M. Project organized focus groups and workshops engaging experts and attending public in discussing on what challenges still kay ahead for us and the Alpine Space when dealing with transport and mobility policies.

Shared meaning for "social sustainability"

The first important challenge is to define a meaning for the wording "social sustainability" which can be shared not only among the different Alpine Member States, but also  by the different stakeholders.
It was easily discussed what "social sustainability" is not: nor consensus or prevailing opinion, but it is much more difficult to define what is.
Social conflicts, protests by citizens and resistance of civil society against major public projects often signal a lack of communication and community involvement or a poor political judgment on real people´s needs. Especially infrastructure projects like European network for e.g. railways or motorways can cause a high level of pubic resistance. Stuttgart 21 or the Lyon-Turin railways are just two European examples.
This shows how social sustainability involves two main actors: decision makers (the persons involving) on one side and communities (persons involved)  on the other.



So the key driver for social sustainability seems to be Participation, meaning that people have to be involved form the beginning especially when the political decision have high impact on their everyday life. 
Social sustainability within major transport infrastructure has to include participation: this is a lessons learned from many projects. Participation has to start at a very early stage, has to be done continuously, be transparent as well as traceable.
The challenges for the future are therefore double fold when it comes to fostering participation:
  • On one side ACCOUNTABILITY of decision makers to inform and involve citizens has to be improved
  • On the other side, local communities have to be EMPOWERED, through tools helping people forming their own opinions.

Policies integration to grant social sustainability

A policy cycle entails different steps and involves three dimensions:

  • Policy: specific contents of the acting actors to respond to the substantive content issues and problems.
  • Politics: Includes the processes in the course of the clash of opinions, interests, and goals, as well as agreements, voters, collaborations, etc.
  • Polity: area as a result of the political order and the resulting structures and institutions (people).

For the topic of "social sustainability" in the transport and mobility policy field, the challenge is to include in the process of policy setting, not only the infrastructural/mobility planning aspects, but integrate other domains, as it impacts on the economic and productive system, spatial planning, cohesion policy, etc. 



How a Territorial cooperation programme can support social sustainability?

The PLAT.F.O.R.M. analysis conducted on 47 Alpine Space projects showed  that not many of them tackled the topic of social sustainability, thus to pursue the aim of having a more sustainable Alpine Space (economically, environmentally e socially) additional efforts are needed.

This could be for addressed by including elements of social sustainability in different moments of a project generation: 

  • Programme guidelines
  • Terms of references criteria
  • On-Going communication of project results
  • Training for decision-makers and project partners
  • Placing messages in Policy Cycle