The Peri-cene agenda is at the intersection of many topical fields of research and policy –
- peri-urban studies is a wide and diverse field, combining urban geography and spatial analysis, with new insights on ecosystems services and network economies. There are challenges of multiple levels, from the megalopolis to the ‘deep locality’ of urban fringe areas. The state of the art was set up by the EU-funded PLUREL project (www.plurel.org ): here is the Synthesis Report Peri_Urbanisation_In_Europe – Piorr-Ravetz-Tosics 2011
- This is also an international and global agenda for developing countries such as India. Here, the Peri-urban Initiative coordinated by IIT Madras is one of the most advanced anywhere – see – http://www.periurban.in/
- Climate impacts, risk / vulnerability, and ‘adaptive pathways’ is a wide field of debate and evidence. There are policy-research applications all the way to the global (IPCC etc), together with very practical local problems, such as flooding, droughts, wildfires, storm surge and other extreme events. The state of the art has been set up by the RESIN ‘Climate resilient cities and infrastructure’ project – http://www.resin-cities.eu/home/
- Over-arching these are deeper and more structural challenges, which start with combined ‘socio-technical-ecological-political systems’. Clearly the peri-urban is not only about land-use and infrastructure, but involves deeper layers of culture and psychology, and raises fundamental dilemmas on inequality, growth and decline, exclusion or bypass effects. Such questions are addressed by the current work on Synergistics – http://www.manchester.ac.uk/synergistics – and – http://www.urban3.net – or see – Synergistics – overview
- Similar deeper issues arise with climate and environmental change: problematic questions on ethics of shared risk and responsibility, institutions for the commons, inter-generational transfers and so on.
- This points to the practical outcome, the questions of governance in the peri-urban. Here there are typical gaps, mismatches, disruption and exclusion. Again there are many practical questions of local regulation and management to address in the literature. There are also much wider and deeper issues of governance in a vacuum, in rapid change and flux, in a multi-level multi-sector spaghetti, or in systemic corruption.
- There’s a very topcial futures and foresight dimension: recent work on the Foresight Future of Cities pointed towards ways of anticipatory governance – https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/future-of-cities – and see the Urban Environment report at future-urban-ecosystems – Ravetz 2015
- In the background the Cities of Tomorrow program of EU -DG-Regio set the agenda for governance – or at least the questions – see Cities of Tomorrow – DG REgio
- Such challenges point towards an over-arching concepts of system change, as in the transition literature, and now framed as ‘cognitive complexity’ and/or collective intelligence. Here the emerging smart city literature extends to smart or ‘smart-wise’ socio-technical systems, which includes systems of economy, governance, spatial planning etc – see https://www.routledge.com/Inside-Smart-Cities-Place-Politics-and-Urban-Innovation/Karvonen-Cugurullo-Caprotti/p/book/9780815348689
OUTLINE OF THE PROJECT
This project aims to scope the challenge, to analyse at different scales, and then to explore possible responses in the form of pathways. Such pathways will each be suited to different parts of the world, but there are common threads. The challenge is that peri-urbanization is many things. It starts with physical land-use and environmental impacts, but is also a human agenda with social, technological, economic, political and cultural layers. Peri-urbanization is also implicated in the urban Nexus, the interactions between systems of food, energy, water, and other resources which connect cities to their hinterlands. Effective research has to take on board multiple scale levels and time horizons, with complexity and uncertainty, challenges of whole-system thinking, and over-arching sustainability transitions.
The project is organized as a multi-level partnership. It begins with the interactions of the peri-urban and environmental, as two strands of a framework / typology. This responds to the global question of peri-urbanization trends and impacts on climate and environment, and it also builds on IPCC-related scenarios, for sensitivity and future-proofing.
The typology is then the foundation for a working Platform, a collaborative community of fifteen city-regions around the world. Research teams in each will build up an online profile for mutual learning and dialogue. Each will then participate in the international workshop, which aims at shaping new kinds of adaptive pathways based on collective intelligence. Two in-depth case studies with contrasting types, from India and the UK, provide deeper insights: in each the co-learning and co-creation shared between research and policy is the key. A final work package provides structures for the co-creation of adaptive pathways, to produce tangible policies / programs at local, regional and international scales.
Overall this is a pilot, agenda setting project which paves the way for more detailed follow up. It builds on two major EU projects, the PLUREL (Peri-Urban Landuse) and RESIN (Resilient cities), with further developments in methods and typologies. It mobilizes the existing clusters of expertise in the University of Manchester, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, along with the platform of 15 city-regions around the world.
The final result aims to add value to a wide range of policy and research, at national and global levels. It will provide analytic insights, data resources, and the results and feedback from a hands-on stakeholder-research dialogue.
OUTLINE OF THE LIVING LAB
We will form an international Living Lab of around 10-15 city-regions, building on existing collaborations. This will represent the major geographic economic and urban development types, in a global range with the priority on the ‘majority world’. We aim also to involve international networks such as Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities and UN Habitat.
The Living Lab partners / associates will gain several benefits:
- 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.
The online knowledge exchange in the Living Lab is closely linked with the ‘International Handbook of Peri-Urban Studies’ (Springer). Aiming at a global community, it also builds on the experience of the synergistic methods and the Collaboratorium (www.manchester.ac.uk/synergistics ). The online platform will be structured around the framework / typologies above, and invite debate on both analysis & synthesis.
The aim here is to build capacity and mutual learning, for the global community of peri-urban research and practice. While the PERI-CENE budget is modest, this is an opportunity to draw in other interested partners, and related research programs, for mutual exchange and learning as a global community.