Urban planning and climate transition post COVID-19: A case study of Athens, Greece

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Submission Summary
On March 11 2020, the World Health Organization declared coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), to be a pandemic. Absent pharmaceutical treatments, non-pharmaceutical interventions—physical-distancing measures and movement restrictions—have been deployed. European Union’s (EU) exit and recovery plan includes the progressive lifting of domestic and cross-border restrictions and, linked to the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework and Cohesion (Regional and Urban Development) Policy (2021–2027) and the European Green Deal (2019–2024), a recovery package prioritising the transition to climate neutrality (net-zero greenhouse gas emissions) by 2050. Anchored in that plan, “The Great Walk of Athens” is the new flagship urban project of the Municipality of Athens, Greece. This paper focuses on the planning instruments behind that project. The paper builds on theoretical work on territorialism by Andreas Faludi (“The Poverty of Territorialism: A Neo-Medieval View of Europe and European Planning”, 2018). Additionally, it draws upon the research projects “European Territorial Reference Framework” (ETRF, 2019) and “Comparative Analysis of Territorial Governance and Spatial Planning Systems in Europe” (COMPASS, 2018) from ESPON (European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion). Faludi defines territorialism—the ideology of the hierarchical, political and administrative division of space—and the preconditions of it—geography-based constituency and state monopoly on the use of force, and the absolute (contrast to relative) conception of space as a container (contrast to network)—to theorise European integration and planning in EU member states. ESPON ETRF delineates the three major territorial challenges facing EU member states: social, economic and political fragmentation; positive and negative interdependencies; mismatch between geographical jurisdictions of political–administrative divisions and policy impact. ESPON COMPASS concerns the influence of European integration on planning in EU member states. Employing content analysis on Greek legal planning texts, this paper evidences how infectious diseases become a matter of concern for planning next to chronic diseases, hazards, and disasters. This work is applicable to the study of legal planning texts.
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6: Creating Healthy and Inclusive Urban Environment
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PhD Candidate
National Technical University of Athens (NTUA)
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