End of Mandate Message by André Torre, President of ERSA
Dear Members, dear colleagues,
In Cork on 31 August 2018, ERSA Section Representatives elected me as the 9th President of ERSA for the term 2019-2023.
I started my mandate with a good working background within ERSA-RSAI network: I had been president of the French Speaking Association – ASRDLF (2008 –2011), and a managing editor of the French Speaking Journal of Regional Science; I was also a representative of ERSA at the RSAI Council and last but not least, Vice President of ERSA (2014 –2018).
In the end, I can say that the exercise has been more animated and disturbed than I could have imagined and planned when I applied for the position of ERSA President. On this respect, I would like to thank the past president Jouke van Dijk for his unfailing support on the association as well as advising the board and the EOC on a regular basis.
At the start of my mandate, my ambition was to make of ERSA an even stronger supportive body for its members. I wanted to enhance the relations with the sections, in order to increase the participation to their activities and to advertise more quickly about the events they organize and their links with local stakeholders. Finally, I aimed to confirm ERSA as a key stakeholder in regional science research and major player to liaise with international policy institutions.
To meet my objectives, I have been working closely with our Sections’ Representatives and involving my direct collaborators at the board. This has been of utmost importance to better understand the network through our section expertise, meet new challenges (like Covid, war) and make together efficient decisions over the years.
The exchange with the European Sections has been strongly intensified. We have supported them in their development and responded to their needs as best as we could. Their respective events have been promoted more thoroughly through all our communication channels. And we have considerably improved our communication capacities, with a strong and daily presence on social media, and a huge number of followers.
I am proud to say that although the turbulent times we went through, we have maintained ERSA at the forefront of the scientific debate. ERSA Congress has remained THE meeting point in the world for researchers from various places, disciplines and approaches. It is the biggest event in Regional Science worldwide and based on a fantastic multidisciplinary network that can be seen in the diversity of topics presented during the congress (in particular Special sessions) and profiles of participants.
With our Summer and (new) Winter Schools, we have been successful in promoting and supporting young researchers and new talents. We have increased the satisfaction and participation (up to 30 participants) to these dedicated events.
As for the production of outstanding research, we dedicated time and efforts to promote and increase visibility of our Journals (REGION (ERSA journal), and PIRS, RSPP (RSAI Journals)). Dedicated Lectures, organised by the editorial boards of the Journals, are now delivered during the ERSA Congress. They are promoted more actively via ERSA Channels website, e-news and social media, including the sharing of publications of relevant books and articles.
We have re-established the place of quantitative research, one of the core researches representing our Association and our tradition of thinking on programme of activities (Ex.: Schools on applied topics, ERSA prize to Attila Varga or Diego Puga, etc.).
I am also very satisfied with the steps forward made in the reinforcement of our collaboration with large institutions (like DG-Regio and OECD). This is crucial to enhance policy-science interaction and increase our impact on evidence based regional policies. We must remain an essential key player interacting with Institutions. Our collaborations are various: Special sessions or Roundtables at our Congress (OECD, EU, UNIDO), Joint organisation of ERSA schools, Academic Sessions at EURegionsWeek, dedicated webinars (OECD), REGIO-ERSA Lectures.
We have preserved inclusiveness in our association. With the diversity of our individual members, we developed added-value services or events, and increased our gender balance (in 2020 we have had more than 50% of female participant to the Congress for the 1st time, and 50% of all our keynotes are now women). Like during our annual Congress, which offers a large range of topics and different categories of fees and enables a participation from all across the globe.
During my mandate I also ensured a democratic functioning of our organisation and an efficient functioning of the office (ERSAC, EOC Meetings), took care of the balance of the competencies and the responsibilities between Eastern, Western, Northern and Southern ERSA members regions and promoted gender equity in the EOC and the various functions or positions of ERSA members.
I cannot make a picture of my mandate without mentioning the exceptional crises we faced: COVID pandemic and the War in Ukraine. Financially, it was a challenging period with two-year cancellation of ERSA Congress and Schools in-person, generating losses. I am really very happy that we took up the challenge with success to invent our new events online and remained active supporting our members with the presentation and sharing of their researches. And we were able to adopt a new format for the annual Congress, with a first part online, allowing distant participants to share their experience.
These difficult times were also a rich period to exchange and share on research on Covid pandemic, let me mention the dedicated online events we organised like ERSA COVID battles or the new information page on ERSA website with scientific contributions on COVID. ERSA Office also took this opportunity to organise paying online events for other Associations using our fresh know-how.
We also reacted to the Ukraine war, with internal meetings with section representatives and taking position, we posted a page on our website with offers of support from ERSA members, for scientists based in the conflict area.
All in all, we have been struggling and pushing the walls during the past few years, for sake of keeping our network working and growing, supporting our individual members as best as we can. Thank you for the trust you have placed in me over the last 5 years.
My mandate has been a rich human collaboration with the ERSA Section Representatives and the European Organisation Committee, as well as the ERSA Office staff. It helped greatly to reach good results at different levels and to work in a close and friendly atmosphere.
To conclude, I would like to thank my close team: the vice-President Eveline van Leeuwen, the General Secretaries: Rosella Nicolini and Macej Turala, and the treasurers: Artur Ochojski and Laura Resmini for their constant support and availability. And to warmly thank for their daily work and skills the very committed persons at the Office: Maristella Angotzi, Nurul Bariroh and Eric Valdenaire.
Nowadays, with Roberta Capello and Yannis Psycharis, I trust that ERSA is in good hands to continue to grow for the sake of Regional Science Research, and for the sake of good sustainable and peaceful solutions and policies for civil society in Europe and beyond! I wish them full success for the upcoming years.
With best wishes,