Territorial intelligence

Territorial intelligence is already 25 years old!

Territorial intelligence is the “multidisciplinary” scientific project aimed at sustainably developing territories (local government areas), in which the local communities take centre stage. It is based on a systemic vision of a local government area, which includes a geographical area, a community, its representations and its behaviour. It attaches importance to the local level in multi-scale principle that ranges from local to global. It is a collective intelligence that is based, both on the interaction between each human being and their environment and the relations between people. Today, it makes use of the powerful information technology tools. It influences the governance and the behaviour of each individual, body and local government authority. Territorial governance can expand or restrict its expression, the participation of all, the balance between collaboration and competition; a fair and sustainable access to resources; the wellbeing and empowerment of each and every person. As a tool of governance, using information and knowledge sharing technologies, observation should give equal and sustainable access to information and lead to jointly developing sustainability and resilience in the territories.

This definition was approved by the scientific committee of the international territorial intelligence network at its twelfth annual international conference, in 2012, in La Plata.

The history of the territorial intelligence began with Catalyse, a tool for territorial assessment and observation which in 1989 laid down the fundamental principles of territorial intelligence: 1) Primacy of needs expressed by the people, 2) participation of the local community, stakeholder consultation and cooperation and 3) scientific instrumentation providing tools accessible to stakeholders to help them assess their project and observe the territory. Originally designed in the French administrative unit or ‘departement’ of Doubs in 1990, Catalyse spread across Europe by assessing local initiatives with the help of stakeholders and the nearest university to the territory concerned. A network of stakeholders and researchers working on sustainable local development thus came into being.

In 1998, the concept of territorial intelligence proposed a research-action project explicitly adding the multidisciplinary dimension of territorial research, indispensable to sustainable development, and collective intelligence to the multi-sectorial method on which Catalyse’s integrated approach to territory is based. This project would lead to the acknowledgement of a coordinated European scientific action, which was to advance the tools of territorial intelligence but which would also open the research on participatory territorial governance and on territorial observation at the local level.

The constant expansion of the network with new research teams and local initiatives, moved towards greater internationalisation, especially after the Latin American network “territorios posibles” joined. As our strategy developed both by applying for large scale European research projects that addressed major social challenges, by organising several scientific events per year, and by working daily with the local initiatives, the network was successful in being awarded an international scientific coordination role, as the “International Network of Territorial Intelligence”. INTI constantly updates its cooperative research programme and presents new contributions. It is interested in a range of recent concepts, which fall within the sustainable development paradigm. Territorial intelligence seeks to achieve convergence of its initiatives within a new development model based on human behaviour, for the well being of each and every person. The aim is to let each local community focus on sustainable development by combining tangible social cohesion, environmental protection, while addressing cultural diversity issues and delivering economic efficiency.

Houda Neffati og Jean Jacques Girardot
Translator: Jackie Dobble

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