From territorial cohesion to regional spatial justice: The Well-being of Future Generations Act in Wales

Rhys Jones, Bryonny Goodwin-Hawkins, Michael Woods

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The European Union's flagship Cohesion Policy faces evidence of dubious economic effectiveness and growing political and philosophical critiques of the very ideals of furthering European integration. This article examines ambitions for territorial cohesion as they have been operationalized through regional development in Wales. We argue that a potential alternative to the failed realization of territorial cohesion lies in the principles of spatial justice. While territorial cohesion has typically emphasized the redistribution of funds to ‘lagging’ regions, spatial justice, as we define it, is premised upon enabling regions to assert their own capacity to act and pursue positive visions of regional futures, consider the implications of space and scale for the achievement of justice, and define well-being, development and the ‘good life’ in ways that reflect regional priorities. We examine three ways in which recent political discourses and policy mechanisms in Wales resonate with these ideals. We focus on attempts to envision a progressive Welsh future, develop alternative spaces and scales of governance, and redefine and pluralize understandings of progress and well-being. The article concludes by reflecting on the practical and conceptual implications of rescaling spatial justice to regional contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)894-912
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research
Issue number5
Early online date30 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 02 Sept 2020


  • Territorial Cohesion
  • Spatial Justice
  • Wales
  • Well-being of Future Generations Act, Wales
  • Well-being of Future Generations Act
  • regions
  • territorial cohesion
  • spatial justice


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