Territorial Economic Development (TED) promotion has a key role to play in addressing the crucial challenges of our time, such as the development of competitive advantages in locations that compete with other locations globally, the management of structural change processes and social and territorial inequalities, responses to climate change, the initiation of change coalitions to make locations more resilient in conflict-ridden situations, etc. Based on our understanding, solutions for all these issues have to been promoted in specific places. TED initiatives cannot been treated isolated but in a systemic and interdependent way with national and regional efforts. But national development efforts without a place-sensitive perspective often fail because places differ from each other and territorial context matters. Equally designed interventions can be successful in one place and fail in another.

Our perspective on TED is related to our understanding that TED is not a solution for everything. But place-based efforts are the anchor for many development interventions (see also this annual reflection article). For practitioners key questions need to be asked when embarking on a process of strengthening a territorial economy (see article). TED provides the chance for participatory, bottom-up approaches that mobilise local knowledge, motivate stakeholders and stimulate innovation (see article). Especially during the last decade international practice shows that network approaches are a key success criterion to strengthen knowledge transfer, cross-interdisciplinary thinking and concrete product and process innovations. Stimulating such interactive processes requires creative facilitation in order to promote coherent and sustainable TED-initiatives (see article).

But TED is not only about networking and bottom-up initiatives. We have to recognise that territorial economies are complex adaptive systems (see article) that move beyond the purely economic dimension of competitiveness at the territorial level by responding to the environmental and climate challenges of our time (see article) and aiming at a higher level of inclusiveness (see article). With its focus on regions and cities in times of digitalisation, it becomes also an important approach to strengthen smart rural and urban development opportunities and to overcome the urban-rural divide by interpreting territories as wider living and innovation spaces (see article). Looking out for the role of market-focused TED approaches in highly insecure, conflict-ridden situations, is another phenomenon of current times (see article).

Mesopartner’s experience in TED has been gained in all types of countries, including least developed countries, developing countries, middle-income countries and developed countries such as Germany. We are often considered knowledge mediators between the more industrialised countries and the developing world. During the last years we have linked our TED promotion activities strongly to topics like “Green Economic Development”,   complex-sensitive approaches like “Systemic Insight, “Local Innovation System Promotion”, and “Bottom-up Industrial Policies”.

Planning or Doing Local Economic Development? Problems with the Orthodox approach to LED  
This Africa Insight article interrogates the planning-driven approach to LED and contrasts it with an evolutionary approach.  
LED - An Overview  
As part of it’s support for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s (SDC) employment and income (e+i) network, Marcus Jenal of Mesopartner contributed to the development of an overview of current thinking and practice in Local Economic Development (LED). The process…  
Why ‘Market Systems Development’ is not the same as ‘Making Markets Work for the Poor’  
Over the last few years, the term ‘Market Systems Development’ has gained quite some importance in the language of some international donors.  
Monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) in economic development  
To become an effective change agent in dynamic systems, continuous learning and adjusting are essential. Interventions should not only be assessed retrospectively but continuously, so that they can be adapted on an ongoing basis.  
How to introduce LED as an approach to economic change in a country  
Since it was established in 2003, Mesopartner has been involved in work related to Local Economic Development (LED).  
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