For a third time in a row the Regional Studies Association (RSA) supports a Research Network coordinated by the IOER. After starting with the broad topic of "Ecological Regional Development" (still serving as a general formal title at the IOER) the focus of research moved to the regional dimension of the Sustainability Transitions. Now the topic "Smart City-Regional Governance for Sustainability" takes centre stage. The aim of the new RSA Network is to investigate meaning and practice of 'smartness' in city-regional governance. For this purpose, the notion of 'smartness' is understood here as revolving around finding a preferred balance between the competing quests for urban international competitiveness, national economic development, societal and territorial cohesion as well as environmental protection and addressing climate change.
This competition between competing, often seemingly conflicting, goals is placed here under the discursive umbrella of 'sustainability' as the overarching political and policy-defining discourse. Sustainability, in turn, is conceptualised for this purpose as addressing more than the often pre-eminent focus on climate-related challenges and policies. Instead, the goal of this Network is to identify local approaches to finding and applying 'best-effective' - however defined - policies that promise to reconcile diverse and competing interests, and allow to formulate political agendas and practical policy making - whether targeting political-economic, societal or environmental sustainability concerns and priorities. In city-regions, these contestations and necessities for reconciliation are particularly complex - and, with their dense and intense interdependencies, pose formidable political and practical challenges. Yet, at the same time, this makes city-regions and their governance a fascinating and rewarding arena for investigating the many meanings of 'smartness'.