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


In year 2018 our working group has implemented the following activities:

  • March 2018 Berlin, Germany: the 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
  • May / June, 2018 Ostrava, Czech Republic: the 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 Tereza Aubrechtova from University of Ostrava (Czech Republic)
  • October 2018, San Sebastian, Spain: Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) Europe conference, the session titled: “Governing the trade-offs of peri-urban ecosystem services”, prepared together with Luis Inostroza (RUB), Daniele La Rosa (UNI Catania) and Ingo Zasada (ZALF)
  • October 2018, Pozna?, Poland, POL-EKO SYSTEM International Fair of the Environmental Protection, the workshop titled “Innovative environmental governance for sustainable peri-urban landscapes”
  • Publications:

    • Spyra M., Inostroza L. Hamerla A., Bondaruk J. (2018) Ecosystem services deficits in cross-boundary landscapes: spatial mismatches between green and grey systems, Urban Ecosystems, IF: 1,97
    • La Rosa D., Geneletti D., Spyra M., Albert C., Fürst C., (2018)  Sustainable Planning for Peri-urban Landscapes In: Perera A., Peterson U., Pastur G., Iverson L. (eds) Ecosystem Services from Forest Landscapes. Springer, Cham, pp 89-126
    • Spyra M., Kleemann J., Cetin N.I, Vázquez Navarrete C.J., Albert C., Palacios-Agundez I., Ametzaga-Arregi I., La Rosa D., Rozas D., Esmail B.A, Picchi P., Geneletti D., König H., Koo H.M, Kopperoinen L., and Fürst C. (in press) The ecosystem services concept – a new Esperanto to facilitate participatory planning processes? Landscape Ecology
    • Inostroza, L., Hamstead, Z., Spyra, M., & Qhreshi, S. (2019). Beyond urban–rural dichotomies: Measuring urbanisation degrees in central European landscapes using the technomass as an explicit indicator. Ecological Indicators, 96(September 2018), 466–476.

  • Several research project proposals submitted for e.g. for INTERREG Central Europe (“Reducing urban sprawl in functional urban areas through multilevel governance”), INTERREG Europe (“Improving regional policies to better protect natural heritage of peri-urban open spaces”), and on-going proposal for Horizon 2020 (SC5-13-2018-2019: Strengthening international cooperation on sustainable urbanisation: nature-based solutions for restoration and rehabilitation of urban ecosystems).

Plan for year 2019:

  • April, 2019, Bern, Swissland: 4th Open Science Meeting of the Global Land Programme, session and immersive workshop titled: “Governance of natural heritage in peri-urban open spaces”, together with Fürst Ch., Xiang W-N., Wei W., Inostroza L., La Rosa D., Kleemann J., for more information about the workshop please see the link
  • July, 2019, Milano, Italy: 10th IALE World Congress, session titled “Towards visionary peri-urban landscapes? Environmental governance mixes for sustainable peri-urbanization”, together with Fürst Ch and Aubrechtova T.

    • Call for abstract is open till the 25th January 2019. For more information please see the link

  • Further publications concerning to e.g. peri-urban open spaces, ecosystem services trade-offs in peri-urban contexts and human – wildlife interactions in peri-urban landscapes.

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 / contact person:

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


Responsible parties and their emails (in alphabetic order):

  • M.Sc. Tereza Aubrechtova, University of Ostrava, Czech Republic, Tereza.Aubrechtova(at)
  • Dr Aliyu Barau, Bayero University Kano, Nigeria, asbarau.urp(at)
  • Dr. Jan Bondaruk, Central Mining Institute, Poland, jbondaruk(at)
  • M.Sc. Nuket Ipek Cetin, Gebze Technical University, Turkey, cetinnipek(at)
  • Dr. Peilei Fan, Michigan State University, USA, fanpeile(at)
  • 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. Ma?gorzata Grodzi?ska – Jurczak, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland, m.grodzinska-jurczak(at)
  • Dr. Luis Inostroza, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, Universidad Autónoma de Chile, Chile,
  • Dr. Daniele La Rosa,  University of Catania, Italy,
  • Prof. dr. hab. Irena Nied?wiecka-Filipiak, Wroc?aw University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Poland, irena.niedzwiecka-filipiak(at)
  • Dr. Justyna Rubaszek, Institute of Landscape Architecture, Wroc?aw University of Environmental and Life Sciences, jrubaszek(at)
  • 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, Jingle.Wu(at)
  • Dr. Ingo Zasada, Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg, Germany, ingo.zasada(at)
  • Dr. Natalya Yakusheva, University of Helsinki, Finland,
  • Prof. dr. Weiqi Zhou, Research Center For Eco-Environmental Sciences of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 


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