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Spatial planning is an important tool for reducing risks associated with climate change and its impacts on human settlements (UN-HABITAT, 2014; ADB, 2016). This can be done through influencing land use, settlement structure, transport networks, open space and infrastructure provision, accessibility to services and resources, and environmental protection.

The emergence of spatial planning systems in the CEE region and the corresponding processes can be linked to the need to ensure sustainable development. This process entails balancing economic growth needs with the need to reduce pressure on natural resources and meet social goals.

As a public function, spatial planning is an organisational and coordination process that allows control and better command over how the development of cities and regions will take place. It also provides a basis for the development of sustainable, inclusive cities that are attractive to residents and contribute to economic growth.

Various definitions of spatial planning exist, but in general it is a process that includes the systematic use of knowledge about spatial patterns and their interaction with human activities to make decisions about the future allocation of activities in space at different scales and levels of government.

In most countries, spatial planning entails the creation of spatial plans that delimit zones and define the parameters of development in a specific area, restricting what can be developed within them. However, the legal formulations of these plans vary widely and differ from country to country.

These plans are a key instrument of spatial planning and represent the primary means for determining and shaping spatial development at the local level. As a rule, they delimit the areas and impose restrictions on development in order to achieve certain objectives or meet certain criteria.

Although these local plans differ in their underlying legal frameworks and goals, a common feature is that they have the same basic objective: to improve the quality of life for all citizens. In addition to this, they often have a high degree of flexibility, meaning that the resulting local plans can adapt to changing circumstances.

While the legal framework of a national spatial planning system is highly important in this context, it is also essential to consider how this legislation can be applied at the local level. In this respect, a comparison of the legal frameworks of the surveyed countries is helpful.