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Regions, borders, and social policy

The limits of welfare in regional cohesion debates

Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

This first issue of Volume Four of Regions & Cohesion continues a trend of articles that gained momentum in Volume Three, focusing on the territorial aspects of welfare in social cohesion debates. The Summer 2013 issue of the journal presented a collection of articles that specifically discussed the role of borders and border policies in social cohesion politics. Although this collection was not intended to be presented as a thematically specific issue, the simultaneous arrival of these pieces highlighted the importance of borders in defining the territorial limits of cohesion and the ensuing renegotiation of these limits in political debates. For example, the article by Irina S. Burlacu and Cathal O’Donoghue focused on the impacts of the European Union’s social security coordination policy on the welfare of cross-border workers in Belgium and Luxembourg. The article illustrated the limits of this regional policy as cross-border workers do not receive equal treatment compared to domestic workers in the country of employment. Similarly, an article by Franz Clément in the same issue analyzed the “socio-political representation” of cross-border workers and discusses how such workers can mobilize for socioeconomic rights in institutions aimed at worker protection (such as professional associations, trade unions, etc.). Both articles show that despite formal regionalization of legislation concerning social rights and representation, national boundaries clearly present challenges to cross-border workers who have difficulty negotiating rights in both their country of employment and country of residence.

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Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

Volume five of Regions & Cohesion has focused significant attention on the subject of regional development. It has done so because 2015 is such an important year in relation to development debates given the definition of the post-Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agenda in the United Nations and the official declaration of 2015 as the European Union Year for Development. The introduction to the Leadership Forum of the Spring 2015 issue included important reflections on the theme of “transformative development.” The introduction openly asked whether 2015 could be a decisive year for the global development agenda or whether it will be remembered for global summitry, international declarations and little more.

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Carmen Maganda and Harlan Koff

In the editorial note of the first issue of Regions & Cohesion, we directly asked ourselves and our readers: What role do people play in regional integration processes? Regions have, indeed, developed in different ways and for different reasons. One of the main questions behind the mission of this journal asks: Are territories serving their citizens, or do citizens serve the needs of expanding territories and interconnected markets?

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Sustainable development

Still haven´t found what we’re looking for…

Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

Much debate has swirled around the United Nations’ (UN) 2000–2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). On one hand, the MDGs established the fight against poverty in the global political consciousness. On the other hand, they maintained a traditional statistical approach to “development” that focused on indicators more than transformation. Critics (such as Blanco Sío-López, 2015; Martens, 2015) have contended that the MDGs reinforced power imbalances and the indicators included in the political program were unattainable by many developing states since the beginning.

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Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

Regional integration is generally discussed in terms of supranational political cooperation and the integration of economic markets. Since its inception, this journal has noted that political and academic discussions of regionalism focus more on the integration of territories and markets than on the role that people play in these processes. This issue of Regions & Cohesion directly addresses this by “bringing the people back in.”

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Introduction to the Leadership Forum

2015: A decisive year for development?

Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) mean many things to many people. Public debates have recognized the critical role they played in helping the topic of development, the related struggle against poverty and its environmental implications to emerge in the collective consciousness of global actors. In fact, diminishing the number of people living in extreme poverty by half, the main priority of the MDGs, is the most notable success of this political process that began with the Millennium Development Summit in 2000. At the same time, the MDGs have been heavily criticized by leaders and academics for being indicator-driven and, in some cases, unrealistic. It still seems that five of the eight MDGs will not be met before the goals expire in 2015.

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Environmental and natural resources governance

Rethinking public-private relationships

Carmen Maganda and Olivier Petit

Talking about environmental and natural resources (ENR) governance today is generally related to the search for holistic elements to achieve sustainability. Political ecology clearly points out and debates the need to see ENR, particularly those related to vital necessities, as global public goods. It sounds like an easy equation: How can we achieve sustainability without sharing access, costs, benefits, and of course governance of ENR needed for all human activities? However, as logical as it seems, development inequalities and unregulated market relationships on the management of these resources are still predominant. Therefore, environmental governance and sustainability is still one of the major contemporary global challenges.

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Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

In any region of the world, in any country, each beginning of the year offers us a scenario for potential changes, purposes, goals and hopes, and 2019 does not have to be the exception. Despite various forecasts of slower global economic growth in the coming year (World Bank, Forbes, Reuters), and despite the latest reports from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on stressful atmospheric conditions, among other environmental discomforts around the planet, we cannot limit our human capacity to see the future with courage and optimism.

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Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

Security is one of the most salient issues in Latin America today. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won re-election in June 2014 in a vote that was essentially a referendum on the peace negotiations that he has established with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC acronym in Spanish) in hopes of ending Colombia’s decades-old civil war. Simultaneously, Mexico has witnessed further upheaval as citizens in some areas have taken up arms, and received support from the federal government, in opposition to drug cartels. These are only two examples of high profile developments in Latin America related to security issues.

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Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

June 5 is World Environment Day, also known as Eco-day. It is an environmental awareness day run by the United Nations (UN). Of course, the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, also run by the UN, now dominates our discussions of sustainability in global affairs. However, localized visions of sustainable development continue to thrive. These development models are based on local movements that include a variety of actors with concrete grievances and focused visions for the futures of their communities. These movements and visions are relevant for World Environment Day because they reflect the spirit of this initiative through grassroots activities.