Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme)

Study visit: Partnerships & the green economy (Austria and Slovenia)


Study visit for local development practitioners


11 – 13 October 2010
Graz (Austria) and Slovenia


The issue / The study visit / Contact and information


The issue

Climate change and global warming have become regular headlines in our news and are receiving major political attention. Although we speak about a global phenomenon, the consequences resulting from climate change may differ substantially from region to region, affecting living conditions as well as economic prosperity and perspectives of areas. Whether these regional effects will have a positive or negative balance is dependent on a number of factors that can only be partly envisaged at the time being. What is clear, though, is that regions will have to change and find new strategies to cope with these conditions.

Some localities are already facing negative climate changes (e.g. increasing natural disasters), affecting key economic sectors such as agriculture and tourism, therefore narrowing down economic perspectives. Others have become frontrunners of new opportunities that are opening up, e.g. in the field of eco-industries, while others are still trying to find a balance between economic growth and environmental issues. New strategies need to be developed, and public institutions as well as enterprises, employees as well as education and training institutions will need to adapt accordingly. The broader the consent and the awareness, the most efficiently the measures formulated will help guide the community through this period of change.

Partnerships and environmental policies

Area based partnerships are well placed to develop and execute such a strategy of change on the regional/local level. Usually there are all or at least most of the important regional actors involved in these partnership agreements, and many have contributed over years to find answers to a number of different problems. Surprisingly enough, there are not many partnerships that have already agreed on such an overall strategy. What can be seen so far is partnerships that have made the environmental industry or protection part of their activities, be it business support, employment and skills provisions or social inclusion. For all these issues excellent examples can be found. What does not seem to exist today, are partnerships that place the environmental issue right at the core of their strategy.

Moreover, there are a number of area based co-operation agreements among private companies, and between companies and public institutions in what might be called public private partnerships. And there are eco-clusters. Although the structure differs from a typical area based partnerships (the term standing for agreements between (all) major actors within a region that agree on a common strategy, based on a shared analysis, and combine their resources to reach their goals), these local /regional activities share many of the same features: a vision shared by various actors, a strategy leading in the same direction, and a set of activities mutually enforcing each other, though perhaps on a less formal basis.


The study visit

The OECD LEED Forum on Partnerships and Local Governance organised a study visit for a selected group of local development practitioners to review the green experience of the Austrian Province of Styria, and its setting in regional structures. The study visit provided opportunities to meet with people responsible for the institutional framework of different elements of green policies, e.g. entrepreneurial support, labour market and skills development, environment and regional development, as well as with representatives from enterprises and project promoters of the green economy. In particular, the study visit offered the possibility to: 

  • Get insights about the regional Green skills strategy and its delivery;
  • Know the economic support package of Eco World Styria, regional and environment strategies, and discuss their rationale and their most recent progress;
  • Learn about the organisational and funding structure of the regional green policy; and
  • Network with people running green businesses and projects;
  • Visit of a similar project in neighbouring Slovenia.

Participants also had the opportunity to learn from the first findings of the OECD LEED international project on Climate Change, Employment and Local Development. The project, part of the OECD’s Green Growth Strategy, aims to help national and local authorities put in place good quality greener jobs by developing lower-carbon activities. The project provides guidance on policy interventions and actions to develop quality employment in the greener economy, to meet the needs for new skills, and to manage the transition of local labour markets to a low-carbon economy.



October 11, afternoon

The first afternoon of the study visit was dedicated to a detailed presentation and discussion of the relationship between environmental issues and regional/local development and how collaboration at the regional level couls support green policies.

October 12 & 13, morning

Selected Green initiatives undertaken in Styria were put “under the lens” on the second and third days of the study visit. The in-depth analysis included main achievements, challenges encountered and approaches to overcome obstacles. Days 2 & 3 were organised around project visits to allow for discussions with people engaged in these projects.

October 13, afternoon

In a concluding afternoon session participants drew key learning points from the review of strategies and projects. Special attention was given to issues of transferability. Possible follow-up activities in participating countries or regions were identified.


Download the agenda 
  (pdf, 132kB)



Policy makers and practitioners directly involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of Green regional/local strategies. Participants should also have been able to act as peers in the framework of the study tour, and to provide feedback on the policies and projects presented.


Cost of Participation

No participation fees were required. Participants covered their own travel and accommodation.


Working language



Contact and information

For more information on the study visit, please contact:

Mr. Michael Förschner
ZSI – Centre for Social Innovation, Vienna


Blanka Udvari