"If you want to change the system, build a new system which makes the old one obsolete" (Buckminster Fuller 1939)



(Peri-Urbanization & Climate-Environment Change)

Updates and work in progress on the research proposal to ‘Sustainable Earth’


From space, the human impact on planet Earth is seen with the spread of cities – but the cities themselves are spreading, into huge tracts of the peri-urban.  We are now not only in the Anthropocene, arguably, but the ‘Peri-cene’: a human-environment system shaped by peri-urbanization.  Around the world the peri-urban shows many things  – global hubs and local enclaves, sprawl and disorder, ecological destruction and renewal, disruption of communities and livelihoods.  Peri-urbanization is both a physical land-use process, and a social / economic / political / cultural agenda. The Peri-cene is critical to the fundamentals of urban food, energy, water, and so to the global human-environment system.

The PERI-CENE project will provide the first ever comprehensive assessment of peri-urbanization impacts, risks and vulnerabilities. We use new settlement / population data to build a typology of the peri-urban and its interaction with climate and environment.  We form a research-policy community from 10-15 major city-regions around the world, to apply and fill this typology, and then to explore responses and ways forward  for problems both local and global. In parallel we run in-depth case studies in India and the UK, which explore more of the layers of social, technical, economic and political forces.

The practical result is to map the options for the City-Region A or B, and the pathways between them.

city-region A or B sketch



We are putting together a full proposal for the ‘Towards a Sustainable Earth’ program – details on  https://nerc.ukri.org/research/partnerships/international/overseas/tase/

The research parters include:

University of Manchester (Centre for Urban Resilience & Energy)

Indian Institute of Technology Madras (Indo-German Centre for Technology)

KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm


Research organizations and city / region governments are invited to join the PERI-CENE Living Lab.

This is a ‘collaborative laboratory’ of city-region researchers and policy-makers around the world.  Living Lab Partners / Associates would be invited to:

  • Participation at a major international workshop (fully funded) on peri-urban problems and pathways;
  • Testing the ‘Peri-cene analysis tool’, with local applications of global spatial data;
  • Knowledge exchange with online profiles and research-policy dialogue.

Practical questions

  • Are peri-urban areas more vulnerable to climate change impacts?
  • Are peri-urban areas more difficult to plan and govern?
  • Do they tend to have lower income and more vulnerable populations?
  • Does the peri-urban present an especially formidable challenge to the SDGs?
  • Is it possible to change the trajectory of peri-urbanization and its impacts?

Research questions  

  • What are the likely impacts of peri-urbanization trends / projections on the global climate / environment?
  • What are the likely impacts of climate / environmental change on the peri-urban?
  • How do these influence the dynamics in different types and locations around the world?
  • How can the peri-urban areas (as components of city-region systems) mitigate impacts, adapt to change, and contribute to positive urban transformation.
  • How can adaptive pathways be developed in a governance vacuum, via social learning and responsive multi-level governance?

Background – see the next page for where this is coming from.