UNIDO Strategic Framework: Leveraging a New Generation of Zones and Industrial Parks


“The need for more technologically advanced industrialization in developed regions led to the creation of science, research and technology- oriented industrial parks and innovation areas. Managed by professionals able to promote the culture of innovation and stimulate and oversee the flow of knowledge and technology among universities, R&D institutions, companies and markets, these parks facilitate the creation and growth of innovation-based companies through incubation and provision of other high value-added services along with high quality space and facilities.” — UNIDO

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In this work, UNIDO provides a strategic framework for the development of special zones and industrial parks that realize the SDGs.

The framework starts with a quick rundown on terms and the motivation for developing spatial policy instruments like parks and zones. The authors point primarily to growth pole theory, which states that growth and development don’t occur uniformly, but in specific geographic locations. In this sense, special economic zones and industrial parks can serve as regional development tools in creating and expanding growth poles.

A short history of the development of these locations indicates an increase in service sophistication and a shift from ad-hoc licensing to planned and coordinated public-private partnerships for development, with private entities developing, owning and operating parks on a commercial basis and the zone authority serving as regulator.

As for the future, the next generation of zones is defined by an increasing focus on science, technology and innovation with the inclusion of research organizations, a more ecological and socially-aware approach to development, encompassing more than just industrial areas, but whole smart regions and cities.

The authors proceed to guide aspiring developers and policymakers by providing the steps for the establishment of parks and zones and the crucial aspects which need to be thought through and analyzed before starting a new project, including legal, economic, social and environmental concerns.

Lastly, the UNIDO strategic framework provides a detailed guide to the development of the zone’s masterplan, followed by checklists to assess the fulfillment of key requirements for the main lifecycle stages. Besides general recommendations, the document also defines KPIs for the monitoring and evaluation of goals.

The document is split into 5 chapters, first explaining traditional parks and zones, laying out what characterizes their next generation and then providing guidance for their design and implementation.

Creators of zones and societies should go to chapters 4 and 5 for checklists and the strategic framework for pre-analysis, formulation and development of next generation parks and zones.

Policymakers and analysts can refer to chapter 3 for the definition of next generation parks and zones, from their technological to the environmental aspects.

Scholars and experts may read chapters 1 and 2 for an overview of the different definitions of parks and zones and their traditional structure.

The book can be found here.

Written by Francisco Litvay



Institute for Competitive Governance

The Institute for Competitive Governance is a nonprofit institution which studies special jurisdictions throughout the world.