Urban and peri-urban governance

Working Group Mission statement


The objectives of the “Urban and peri-urban governance” IALE working group is to work with environmental governance issues related to urban and peri-urban contexts.

Recently, the “environmental governance” term is growing in importance, becoming another key word in environmental sciences and becoming as important as the “sustainability” concept. Researchers and planners, which use this term, assign different meanings to it. Our understanding of this term shifts from “the act or process of governing” (Longman dictionary of English) into wider understanding. Many of actions implemented in the frame of environmental governance are based on participatory processes, including stakeholders, citizens, scientists and of course planners. The notion of environmental governance includes very practical processes. Environmental governance is implemented through formal actions, framed by local legislations, together with many more flexible bottom-up initiatives implemented by local citizens. Scientists also play a large role, who by working on practical case studies are able to implement their knowledge and experience into practice. In the frame of environmental governance different types of instruments are being implemented, like legal and regulatory instruments, rights-based instruments and customary norms, economic and financial instruments, social and cultural instruments.

The vulnerability of urban and peri-urban areas, the dynamic processes of urbanization and sub-urbanization, increasing urban populations, and other processes ask for ecological wisdom in environmental governance. Recent research indicates that peri-urbanization processes are very dynamic and extend our understanding of the “urban periphery”. The peri-urban is therefore a new emerging general type of landscape. Beyond urban and rural landscapes, the peri-urban landscapes are a new type of anthropogenic landscape.

Urban systems become cross-boundary phenomenon, which challenges even more the environmental governance in such contexts. Thus environmental governance in such contexts needs to be understood as a highly participatory process with a broader range of actors compared to more classic urban planning processes. It relates to concepts such as metropolitan areas, megacities and conurbations, which characterize the ecological and socio-economic interactions of a city with its environment. More recently the concepts of functional urban areas, introduced by OECD, to compound urban and peri-urban areas. This addresses urban, regional and (cross-) national development goals such as air pollution reduction, integrated watershed-management, transport-management, economy and employment, the provision and accessibility to ecosystem services.

This Working Group provides a forum for two general types of actions:
-    Theoretical, based on building knowledge concerning to the issues of environmental governance in the urban and peri-urban contexts;
-    Practical, oriented into actions implementing the theory like working with urban and peri-urban case studies or workshops with stakeholders and students.


Expected activities

Our objectives are to implement the following activities:

  • 12ve of March 2018 Berlin, Germany: A workshop titled “Metropolitan agri-food-systems and peri-urban agricultural landscapes” to be held at the conference “Landscape 2018 – Frontiers of agricultural landscape research”, prepared together with: Ingo Zasada (ZALF), Bernd Pölling (FHS), Alexandra Doernberg (ZALF) and Marcin Spyra (MLU); for more information about the workshop please see the link;
  • 28th of May till 1st of June, 2018 study trip in the frame of didactic course for master students titled: “Mapping and governing of the peri-urban landscapes of Upper Silesia”, prepared by Martin Luther University (Germany) in cooperation with Central Mining Institute (Poland) and University of Ostrava (Czech Republic).
  • Research project proposal titled “Innovative solutions for planning ecosystem services in metropolitan regions” submitted in July 2017 to German Academic Exchange Service and to Italian Ministry for Education, University and Research. Authors: Daniele La Rosa (University of Catania), Christine Fürst (MLU) and Marcin Spyra (MLU);
  • Proposal of a pre-conference workshop or panel at the 19th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands, 30 May- 1 June, 2018;
  • Joint publications in scientific journals and cooperation on special issues of scientific journals focused on urban landscapes issues.
  • Joint didactic courses for master and PhD students, implemented in the cooperation between working group partners. Student courses aim to discuss issues of urbanized landscapes in metropolitan, conurbation and cross-boundary contexts.

Finally, we encourage the membership among different planning actors (stakeholders, citizens, planning professionals) to further spread the ideas of urban and peri-urban governance. This we are planning to implement through on-going research projects (e.g. SERVICES project and include as important component in future project applications.

Coordinator / contct person:

  • Dr. Marcin Spyra, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany and Opole University of Technology, Poland,;


Responsible parties and their emails (in alphabetic order):

  • Dr. Jan Bondaruk, Central Mining Institute, Poland,
  • Dr. Peilei Fan, Michigan State University, USA,
  • Prof. dr. hab. Christine Fürst, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany,
  • Dr. Simona Gradinaru, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Switzerland,
  • Prof. dr. hab. Malgorzata Grodzinska-Jurczak, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland,
  • Dr. Luis Inostroza, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, Universidad Autónoma de Chile, Chile,
  • Dr. Daniele La Rosa,  University of Catania, Italy,
  • Prof. dr. Wei-Ning Xiang, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA, and Tongji University, Shanghai 200092 China,
  • Prof. dr. Jianguo (Jingle) Wu, Arizona State University, USA,;
  • Dr. Ingo Zasada, Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg, Germany,  
  • Prof. Dr. Weiqi Zhou, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Beijing, China,
  • Dr. Natalya Yakusheva, University of Helsinki, Finland,


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