The Relationship Between Regional Development and Regional Development Agencies

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Çatalbaş N.

in: Regional Imbalances and Regional Development Policies: Turkey Experiences Volume I, Sevinç,Haktan, Editor, Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., Berlin, pp.53-70, 2020

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Publisher: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.
  • City: Berlin
  • Page Numbers: pp.53-70
  • Editors: Sevinç,Haktan, Editor
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: Yes


Introduction There has been mounting evidence that our ecosystem’s capability of supporting a decent human life in the future is at risk due to increasing damage by an increasing human population and harmful human activities. Advances made in health sciences and medical technologies during the Twentieth and the Twenty first Centuries have minimized the possibilities of death from certain common diseases, causing human population to increase rapidly. Increasing economic activity of a growing population is now putting a significant and restrain on the earth’s resources. Such an unsustainable load puts the livelihood of future generations at risk. Since all systems, social and economic, are subsystems of the ecological system (Feldhoff, 2002), sustainability of the global ecosystem is also important for the continuity of human civilization. Not only the well-being of the future generations are but also the well-being of many communities which are disadvantaged in terms of access to natural, economic, human and technological resources or which are just situated in disadvantaged regions is in jeopardy if human economic activity continues at its current pace. Such an uneven access to resources often creates migration waves that put more pressure on the ecosystems of the regions receiving migrants as well as their economies. Thus, sustaining the balance of an ecosystem is not only important for the future but also important for the well-being of the present generation. At the very heart of the problem lies, thrive of human beings for more well-being. Human beings consume raw resources or transform raw resources or mix it with other resources to create new materials (tangible or intangible, goods or services) in order to be better off. Ever increasing needs of a growing human population means more consumption and more production. As human needs increase, we require more resources, more space and more economic activity to be able to deliver more well-being to a growing population. The major constraint is the limited regenerative capacity of our natural environment. As we become better off, we wish to be more comfortable than before and the means of earth to supply everyone what they need is limited. Thus, as our activity to satisfy our needs becomes intensified, we are left off with fewer resources to continue to do so. The case of more people getting better off in terms of per capita goods and services they consume is called economic development. The interesting thing is that science of economics measures economic growth and development by means of consumption; consumption of more goods and more services is a measure of how much welfare human beings have. However, economic development does not, and should not, necessarily mean an improvement in the quality of life through an increase in consumption and a consequent utilization of resources to produce for consumption (Costanza, Daly, and Bartholomew, 1992: 7). The important question is, then, how can we develop by balancing our needs and the available means presented by our ecosystem. In parallel to the evidence of weakening of our ecosystem, there has also been an increasing awareness on taking reparative action to reduce earth’s load down to a more acceptable level in order to bring the ecosystem back to a more advantageous position to support both the present and the future human activity. The idea of sustainable development reflects the concerns of all mankind for “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development [WCED] – The Brundtland Report, 1987). Thus, balancing and adjusting of human economic activity with the given natural environment has become an important policy aim at the global and national levels. However, in practice, achieving sustainable development becomes a complicated task since it requires harmonization of the interests of economic, social and political circles and the requirements of the ecology for supporting the whole system (Rees, 1989). Since human economic activity is causing the problem, it is logical to look for economic solutions at relevant economic levels. The regulation of global economic activity, with such global agreements as the Paris Agreement on climate change, for the continuity of our planetary system is carried at the metaeconomic level. At the macroeconomic level, states ratify global agreements and regulate domestic markets for an ecologically sensitive economy. Mesoeconomic level, i.e. regional and/or local level, requires different approaches to sustainable economic development since regional development policies must comply with the objectives of national macroeconomic planning while trying to satisfy the needs of regional communities and firms at the same time. In fact, the regional level may reflect the complicated nature of sustainable development better. The complex relationship between the regional and environmental economic phenomena, which includes many interactions between the region, society, environment and economics, can be best observed at the regional level since the space (the region) acts as the geographical medium through which the effects of environmental externalities are reflected on the economy and since the scarcity of space as a good has far-reaching consequences for both the present and the future generations (Nijkamp, 1997). This chapter tries to explain the concept of regional sustainable development and contends that the regional level is significant for achieving sustainable development objectives. Whether the regional level is the most appropriate level for achieving sustainability is discussed in the following section of the study. The third section deals with the general problem of specifying a clear definition for the concept of sustainable development and, thus, regional sustainable development. Some important points in planning for regional sustainable development are discussed in the fourth section. The fifth section concludes.