To lead, host and provide a conceptual framework in order to launch high quality research on the nexus landscape-development-democracy.
- to promote national and international critical discourse on the relationship between landscape and democratic society;
- to explore and examine the linkages between human rights, landscape, democracy and public policy interventions (legislation, policy and planning and design practice);
- to produce and collate theoretical, methodological and applied knowledge on landscape, development, and democracy from a variety of disciplines and policy perspectives.
Constitutional ideals of democracy, human rights, equality and freedom have a tangible landscape dimension. Democracy as an ideal is rooted in free debate in public space; landscape is the spatial materialisation of democracy. At this time of global environmental and economic challenges driving increasing social tensions, there is urgent need in on-going discussion about the role of landscape in society and providing the relevant insights and knowledge required to address such situations.
The very concept of landscape – in policy as well as in academic disciplines – is changing from predominantly the understanding of landscape as a visual phenomenon (scenery) to wider conceptions of a complex living space/environment that is moulded by material and intangible systems and components.
Underpinning Landscape in the European Landscape Convention’s definition of 'an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors' are the Council of Europe’s aspirational core values for Democracy, Human Rights and Social Justice. The conviction is that the quality of landscape as a living space, whether urban or rural, is vital in securing the basic human right to material and socio-cultural wellbeing.
In the last decade the landscape convention has driven production of a rich body of knowledge on the multiple, complex aspects of landscape and ways in which the convention might be implemented. Yet, there is a need for more discourse and knowledge on landscape as the spatial meaning of democracy, and on democratic values’ role in protecting, managing and planning of landscapes.