New Issue Published - Left Behind Regions in Europe and Beyond


The causes and impacts of new and enduring regional inequalities have been much debated in many regions and countries around the globe over the past decade. This has been reflected in public and political discourses which reference the imaginaries and material realities of so-called ‘forgotten’ or ‘left behind’ regions and peripheral territories. Discourses and movements of political discontent have sparked off renewed debates on uneven development and the experience of left-behind places, which struggle with persistent social and economic challenges. Interregional spatial inequality and  policies  which  seek  to  address  this  are  of  course  nothing  new but recent years have also seen a widening of  intraregional  gaps,  for  example,  between  regenerating  and  reurbanising  regional  cities and smaller places. The disruption and uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have also  overlaid  existing  intraregional  inequalities  creating  new  dynamics  which  have  interacted  with  existing  marginalisation  tendencies.

Informed by the context outlined above, this issue of Transactions of AESOP explores ‘Left-behind Regions in Europe and Beyond’.

It presents papers principally arising from two events and one project which have explored policy debates surrounding and responses to ‘left behind regions'. The first was a seminar organised by the AESOP French and British Planning Studies Thematic Group in June 2021 on the theme of 'Forgotten, left behind and peripheral territories: comparing debates and policies'. This was held as part of the joint Regional Studies Association (RSA) and AESOP tracks at the Regions in Recovery Building Sustainable Futures - Global E-Festival (June 2–18, 2021). The second event was a  workshop  on  the  theme  of  ‘Beyond  Intra-regional  inequalities:  Understanding  the  dynamism  of  resilient and inclusive regions’. This was organised as part of a research network project jointly funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Taiwanese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and took  place  within  the  Asialics  -  Beyond  Intra-regional  Inequality  conference  held  on  29-30  June  2022.

The papers provide rich insights into the experiences of different states and regions around the globe in seeking to address the challenges and opportunities of places that may be ‘left behind’, but which matter intensely to those living there, the policymakers working to improve their prospects, and the wider development trajectories of the states within which they are situated.