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From Single-Use Community Facilities Support to Integrated Sustainable Development: The Aims of Inter-Municipal Cooperation in Poland, 1990–2018


  • Marek Furmankiewicz

    (Department of Spatial Economy, The Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Geodesy, Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Grunwaldzka 55, 50-357 Wrocław, Poland)

  • Adrian Campbell

    (International Development Department, School of Government and Society, University of Birmingham, Birmingham 15 2TT, UK)


The paper explores and compares the aims of the three most common legal forms of inter-municipal cooperation in Poland (engaging rural, urban-rural and urban municipalities) during the years 1990–2018: Mono-sectoral Special Purpose Unions, Municipal Associations and cross-sectoral Local Action Groups. Content analysis was applied and development priorities from the statutes and strategies were studied. The main form of territorial association evolved from, initially, mono-functional bodies concerned mainly with local infrastructural investment and managed solely by a group of local authorities, to a devolved type, consisting of multi-purpose associations managed with the participation of economic and third sector representatives. This was the result of the European Union policy of promoting territorial governance and integrated development in functional regions, this being considered as part of the process of Europeanisation. However, these successive forms of municipal cooperation do not appear to have replaced the pre-existing forms, but they have introduced additional modes of governance of local resources. The findings show that the most “integrated” and “sustainable” management of local resources is observed mainly in cross-sectoral partnerships, like Local Action Groups, but not so often in mono-sectoral municipal unions and associations led solely by local government and focused more on hard infrastructure and municipal facilities. However, given the specialisation shown by each of the three types of association, it is likely that the full range of development possibilities in the areas concerned can only be realised if all three forms of cooperation are present. The analysis confirms the positive role of local economic and social sector participation in shaping sustainable development. The findings also indicate the utility of the concept of cross-sectoral territorial partnerships in post-socialist and post-authoritarian countries lacking traditions of grassroots or participative development.

Suggested Citation

  • Marek Furmankiewicz & Adrian Campbell, 2019. "From Single-Use Community Facilities Support to Integrated Sustainable Development: The Aims of Inter-Municipal Cooperation in Poland, 1990–2018," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(21), pages 1-21, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:11:y:2019:i:21:p:5890-:d:279523

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    Cited by:

    1. Furmankiewicz, Marek & Hewitt, Richard J. & Kazak, Jan K., 2021. "Can rural stakeholders drive the low-carbon transition? Analysis of climate-related activities planned in local development strategies in Poland," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 150(C).

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