Project Details

Title: Peer Reviews for Sustainable Eco-Regions via Europe
Priority: 2: Environment and risk prevention
Theme: Cultural heritage and landscape

Type of intervention

Type of intervention: 1: Regional Initiative Project
Mini-programme: No
Duration: 1st Nov 2008 - 31st Dec 2011


Total budget: €1,532,139.31
ERDF contribution: €1,178,432.88

Lead partner

Assembly of European Regions
6 Rue Oberlin
67000, Strasbourg

  • Click for contact details
    • Contact Person: Céline Dawans
      Phone: 33 3 88 22 07 07
      Fax: 33 3 88 75 67 19

Project summary

In order to become "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world”, the European Union relies on the harmonious and sustainable development of its Member States, but also of their Regions. Being particularly close to the citizens, and best aware of their strengths and needs, Regions are indeed key actors in the overall EU strategy for more growth and better jobs.


In addition to promoting eco-innovation, or supporting renewable energy sources and greater energy efficiency, Regions use the preservation and sustainable promotion of their landscape and cultural heritage as an important tool to support the diversification of their economies and the reconciliation of economic development with environmental interests.


The sound development of these sectors can indeed improve the quality of life of the local population, creating high quality jobs, facilities and services. However, many examples show that badly planned branding of landscape and cultural heritage

assets can be a threat to the beauty and diversity of the European territory, rather than a vehicle for economic growth, job creation or innovation. In other words, Regions must be careful when developing their cultural heritage strategies, thinking in sustainable terms and adopting holistic approaches to managing these policies.


The aim of PRESERVE is to improve the effectiveness of regional development policies, specifically focusing upon cultural heritage and landscape policies as endogenous factors of economic development.


The PRESERVE concept developed as a logical progression of an exchange on a core regional development issue: 14 regional and local representatives from 11 different countries - representing old and new member states and a wide EU-geographical coverage - gathered and discussed the difficulties they faced when implementing cultural heritage and landscape policies, and decided to join forces with the AER in this project.

Using common evaluation methodologies, the exchange of best practice, and audits from other regional experts (Peer Reviews), the regional policymakers will be able to develop a work plan which will enable them to apply the recommendations and improve their cultural heritage and landscape policies.


The project places a strong emphasis on the dissemination of results to other regions: the aim is to include the PRESERVE partner regions and new regions in a follow-up project aimed at defining “paths” of sustainable eco-Regions in Europe, thereby contributing to the promotion of lesser-known areas. As a pre-condition to their participation, Regions will be asked to apply the tool developed through PRESERVE, thus ensuring that the project has a spill-over effect and that regional best practices are widely disseminated, benefiting Europe’s diversity and sustainable development.

Project achievements

PRESERVE partners have set out to integrate sustainability in regional tourism policies. As a first step, the 14 partners defined a common working methodology based on the peer review approach and developed a series of instruments collected in an integrated toolkit. A peer review consists of a one-week-study tour where the review team holds meetings with key stakeholders and policy makers in order to ascertain the strengths, weaknesses and potential of the host region's tourism policies. After the visit, the review team prepares a report with a series of recommendations on how to improve the region's policies to integrate sustainability. The toolkit, designed to implement the peer review, includes detailed criteria and allows the peers to define and grasp the concept of sustainability and apply it to the host region.

The three aspects of sustainability are considered in this approach, ie. economic competitiveness, social coherence, and environmental management of the tourism policies. Other instruments developed will support the partners in the on-site implementation, including an evaluation grid to measure the application of each criterion as well as templates for drafting their report and recommendations.


To this day, partners have completed their work on the peer review methodology; they have successfully carried out the 6 planned peer reviews and published the ad-hoc reports. This series of peer reviews closed the "testing" phase of the methodology, which reached its final version. Partners have since then engaged in implementing the recommendations from the reports by drafting regional action plans.

Through the various peer reviews and other activities, partners have gathered and collected good practices from their regions, ranging from minimum 3 practices for the host regions and 1 good practice from the peer regions. To this end, detailed descriptions in the form of fact sheets were created, which were published in our good practice publication during the final period. A total of 36 good practices are now available to share with other European regions. At the end of a successful project, partners can account for significant results in all its components, reaching and sometimes exceeding the pre-defined target indicators. In terms of dissemination for example, partners have distributed 7531 copies of the biannual newsletters and 19657 copies of the project's brochure.

Through the 37 events organised and 68 events in which partners participated, 13515 persons have been made aware of the project and results achieved. This is reflected in the appearances in the media which total 144 and an average of 9337 visits on the project website.

The project ended with two important dissemination events, one in Tuscany and one in Brussels. The combination of these two events was crucial to reach both regions throughout Europe, thus spreading the know-how and experience of the partners, as well as the Brussels crowd and institutions as a means to influence policy.


Institution, Town Country Region Contact details
Assembly of European Regions, Strasbourg FRANCE Alsace 33 3 88 22 07 07
Region Abruzzo, L’Aquila ITALY Abruzzo 0039 0862 364255
Alba County Council, ALBA IULIA ROMANIA Centru 0040-258-813380. INT. 2223
Alytus County Governor’s administration, Alytus LITHUANIA Lietuva 370 315 56779
Avila County Council, AVILA SPAIN Castilla y León 34 920 206 230
Office of Banská Bystrica Self-governing Region, Banská Bystrica SLOVAKIA Stredne Slovensko 00421-48-4722126
Municipality of Cerchiara of Calabria, Cerchiara di Calabria ITALY Calabria 0039 0981 99 10 07 – 14 08
Office of the Carinthian Gov. Dept. 3 - Regional Development and communities, Klagenfurt AUSTRIA Kärnten 0043 50 536 320 61
Észak-Alföld Regional Development Agency, Debrecen HUNGARY Eszak-Alfold 00 36 52 524 760
Syddansk Turism, Odense S DENMARK Syddanmark 45 66131337
Örebro Regional Development Council, Örebro SWEDEN Östra Mellansverige 46 19 6026300
REGION OF STEREA ELLADA, LAMIA GREECE Sterea Ellada 30 22310 38955
Internationalisationcenter Styria, Graz AUSTRIA Steiermark 43316601400
South Tuscany Business Innovation Centre, Poggibonsi (SIENA) ITALY Toscana 39 0577 99501
Jönköping County Council, Jönköping SWEDEN Småland med öarna 46 36 324000
Alytus College, Alytus LITHUANIA Lietuva +370 315 79 075


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