Vulkanland Case Study: Transformative Regional Development


  • Michael Ober



Transformative Development, Visioning, Regional Development, Styria, Municipality Co-operations


After being an economic backwater, the southeastern Austrian border region enjoys economic boom today. The decisive factor for the turnaround was a regional development process that had its first steps in 1995. The region was suffering from low education, had the national lowest income rate, no industrial development, no infrastructure, little self-esteem and a lack of job opportunity. The initiators of the project were thinking of a different way of measuring progress and started imagining a future built on different standards. Due to profound research activities, the initiators came to the conclusion that mega projects won’t entail sustainable solutions or future-competence. Hence, they turned their focus to their habitat – their region. To in-valuate the living space, a new identity that was representative, gained recognition and reinforced the peoples self-confidence. In 2001 the new identity ‘Steirisches Vulkanland’ was born. The vision throughout the entire development process was to transform the border region with little chances into an innovative, worth living region ‘Steirisches Vulkanland’ within a period of 15 years. In 2010 their vision seems to be achieved, 79 municipalities together promote successfully local, green, self-sustaining businesses. Yet, the development process is still going on, heading for new, courageous, challenging visions like achieving energy independence by the year 2025.


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Author Biography

Michael Ober

Karl-Franzens-University Graz
Institute of Geography and Regional Science


Kerschbaumer, A., Kobald, R.K., (2003) Regionalentwicklung in der Südoststeiermark. Eine Situationsanalyse zum Grad der Identifizierung mit dem Regionalisierungskonzept „Vulkanland“, Diplomarbeit am Institut für Soziologie der Universität Graz.

Krotscheck, C. et al., (2007) Politik der Inwertsetzung, 12 Entscheidungen zur Überwindung der Zuvielisation, 1. Aufl., Auersbach: BVR Verlag.

Taschner, R. (2013) Bezirkstest 2013, URL:, last downloaded 2013-08-13.

Tischer, M., Stöhr, M., Lurz, M., Karg, L., (2006) Auf dem Weg zur 100% Region. Handbuch für eine nachhaltige Energieversorgung von Regionen, München: B.A.U.M..

Vulkanland (2010a) General Information from the homepage:

Vulkanland (2010b) Personal interview on the 18th of October with the managing board of the StyrianVulkanland.



25. 04. 2015

How to Cite

Ober, M. (2015). Vulkanland Case Study: Transformative Regional Development. Envigogika, 10(1).