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COORDINATION: Centro de Sistemas Urbanos e Regionais, Instituto Superior Técnico (CESUR/IST/UTL).

CEABN TEAM: Ana Luísa Soares, Conceição Colaço, Francisco Moreira, Inês Fontes, Pedro Vaz e Susana Dias.

OTHER INSTITUTIONS: Centro de Estudos sobre a Mudança Socioeconómica e o Território (Dinâmia/CET-IUL/ISCTE-IUL); Instituto de Engenharia de Estruturas, Território e Construção (ICIST/IST/UTL).

URL: http://projectoperiurban.wix.com/periurban

Peri-urban areas are neither geographically nor conceptually well defined. They encompass both characteristics of the urban and rural world and they are located somewhere in-between the urban core and the rural landscape. They have been traditionally approached from an urban planning perspective as ground for urban sprawl and location regional and trans-regional infrastructures.

The dynamic nature of these areas has been identified for some decades ago (EEA 2002,2006). As urbanization occurs, traditional activities are withdrawing. Agriculture, forestry and natural areas even having their own plans have been rather neglected in classical spatial planning. In the Portuguese case, some of the most competitive agricultural regions are located in or near the metropolitan regions.

As new global challenges emerge, as on how to cope with the daily commuting to urban centres, with increased risks resulting from climate change, with the need to provide urban population with recreational areas, and not least with food security issues, new attention has been drawn to peri-urban areas. The challenges are even greater when it is taken into account that is affecting more than half of the population both in Europe and in Portugal.

Key policy documents at European level (e.g., Lisbon Strategy, European Spatial Development Perspective, Territorial Agenda, Leipzig Charter, European Landscape Convention) have been fostering the understanding of sustainable urban development as an increased integration of economic prosperity, social equity and cohesion, and environmental protection, as well as the strengthening of rural-urban land use relationships.

At European level, two institutional and scientific initiatives stand out: the Peri Urban Region Platform Europe (Purple), a Network of regions aiming to raise awareness of the specific peri-urban agenda at European level, and the PLUREL project that has been addressing Peri-urban Land Use Relationships.

Portugal is neither integrated in the Purple network because is has not a regional structure, nor in the PLUREL project. The latter, and despite its important contribution in getting insights into this landscapes and development of methodological toolboxes, did not look into the specific issues at stake of deeply Mediterranean metropolitan regions.

In this context, the main objective of this project was to assess the potential of these peri-urban areas to meet future challenges for sustainable development in a changing world. It aimed to look in-depth into the peri-urban areas of the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon (MAL), its environmental, social, economic and institutional characteristics using a prospective approach. In light of uncertainty towards future demand on peri-urban areas, opportunities were explored concerning its contribution to sustainable development at local and regional level. In order to achieve this goal this project aimed at:

(1) identifying typologies of peri-urban areas based on its ecological, social, economic and institutional characteristics for the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon (TASK 2);

(2) creating visions for peri-urban areas according to their typology by developing scenarios for case studies based on: (a) understanding structural and functional dynamics of each typology, taking into account: ecosystems services provided by each typology, identifying vulnerabilities; economic activities, their innovative potential, and evolving demand patterns; perceived quality of life of resident population and their expectation toward future developments; governance models and spatial planning systems at local scale, assessing its potential for change; and (b) expert and stakeholder participation, identifying the specific challenges that need to be faced by each peri-urban typology, namely in terms of the formulation of sustainability quality objectives (TASK 3);

(3) bridging scientific and practice by communicating knowledge acquired in research and into useful and relevant information for planners and decision-makers, developing strategic planning guidelines and governances models with stakeholders, and envisaging orientations to deal with the challenges faced by peri-urban areas (TASK 4).

The innovation about this project was the perspective chosen. It recognized the unique nature of peri-urban areas and their articulation to surrounding areas within a multidisciplinary and participated approach. In fact, and besides the diversity of disciplines, the project considered the contribution of external actors as a central component in its main achievements, allowing cross-fertilization of conceptual and methodological views and a permanent and ground based relation with the territories analysed.

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