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Meet the Advisory Board: Marjan van Herwijnen

The PLUS Change Project recently welcomed two external advisory board members, Sarah Velten of adelphi and Marjan van Herwijnen of the ESPON Programme. They will provide guidance throughout the project, offering their knowledge and expertise on topics related to sustainable land use. We begin by introducing Marjan van Herwijnen, a senior project expert specialised in territorial analysis.

Tell us about yourself!

I’m Marjan van Herwijnen, Dutch and currently living in Luxembourg where I work as a research and policy manager at the ESPON EGTC. I’m a mathematician by profession and in 1999 I obtained my PhD in regional economics at the VU university in Amsterdam. In my thesis ‘Spatial Decision Support for Environmental Management’ I focused on transforming and using multi-criteria methods for spatial information. It was in fact about how to assess territorial impacts of policies.

As a research and policy manager I’m responsible for setting-up and managing studies that have a territorial focus and deliver data, maps and territorial analyses to policymakers and stakeholders at EU, national, regional or local level. These studies are mostly carried out by researchers from various institutes and one of my tasks is to communicate the project results to policy makers.

How does your work correspond with PLUS Change?

Within ESPON we have implemented a number of projects that are relevant for the PLUS Change project, such as the EU-LUPA and LP3LP projects in the ESPON 2013 programme and the SUPER project in the ESPON 2020 programme. I learned a lot from being involved in these projects, especially from the SUPER project, which investigated various aspects of sustainable urbanisation and land-use practices in European regions. Much of their results and findings are very relevant for the PLUS Change project and I hope the knowledge and experiences I obtained can be of use during our discussions.

Why were you interested in working with this project?

I find the PLUS Change project very interesting because of the interdisciplinary approach, as well as the goal to generate knowledge that can be used to develop or improve tools and interventions that then support a more sustainable approach to land use change. Moreover, I’m currently involved in a project that investigates how a selection of European countries and regions are planning to achieve the European Commission’s “no net land take” objective by 2030 and 2050. We are investigating what tools, policies and governance mechanisms they have in place to achieve this objective and what main levers and obstacles they encounter.

What are you looking forward to in the coming years?

I’m looking forward to contributing to the discussions and learning from all those involved in the PLUS Change project about the various aspects that play a role in deciding on land use changes, and how these decisions can be improved to make our world a bit more sustainable.

Photo Credit: Marjan van Herwijnen