28 May 2019

The emergence of new forms of flexible governance arrangements in and for urban regions: an European perspective


The emergence of new forms of flexible governance arrangements in and for urban regions: an European perspective
Eduardo Oliveira

:::Featured articles:::

New approaches in European governance? Perspectives of stakeholders in the Danube macro-region
Franziska Sielker

Pôles métropolitains: the French approach towards inter-city networking
Sophie Deraëve

The impact of place on policy outcomes
Martin Quinn
Moving away from local-based flood risk policy in Austria
Thomas Thaler

Changing home-to-work travel in England and Wales
Basak Demires Ozkul

Between national constraints and the legacies of the past: explaining variations in inter-municipal cooperation in Italian regions
Mattia Casula

MIDLAND – Developing middle-range theories linking land use displacement, intensification and transitions

MIDLAND – Developing middle-range theories linking land use displacement, intensification and transitions
Funded by the European Research Council, Grant Agreement 677140
Land is a nexus for crucial societal and environmental challenges including food security, access to water, land degradation, biodiversity loss, and climate change. Development of solutions to balance these tradeoffs and synergies is currently hindered by the lack of theories explaining the conditions under which different pathways of land change occur and lead to different outcomes, integrating human and environmental aspects.
This project develops and tests integrated middle-range theories explaining the linkages between three of the major processes in land systems, i.e., (i) land use intensification and expansion, (ii) land use displacement and trade, and (iii) land use transitions or regime shifts.
The work focuses on the emerging agricultural frontier of Southern African dry forests and savannas, which is a threatened and understudied region, and its linkages with distant places.
We analyze: (i) The strategic field of actors’ coalitions, institutions and distant linkages in emerging frontiers; (ii) Links between land use displacement, leakage, and local land changes; (iii) Pathways of agricultural expansion and intensification in tropical landscapes; and (iv) The conditions for transformative governance of land systems to foster resilient landscapes that sustain ecosystem services and livelihoods.
Principal Investigator: Prof. Patrick Meyfroidt  patrick.meyfroidt@uclouvain.be 

Publications and outputs from the Project

Project proposal: Meyfroidt, P. (2015) Developing middle-range theories linking land use displacement, intensification and transitions (MIDLAND) – ERC Starting Grant Research proposal. Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium. Pdf.
Kronenburg García, A., van Dijk, H. (2019). Towards a theory of claim making: Bridging access and property theory. Society & Natural Resources, in press. https://doi.org/10.1080/08941920.2018.1559381 . (Pre-print Pdf) (free eprint access).
Weesie, R., & Kronenburg García, A. (2018). From Herding to Farming under Adaptation Interventions in Southern Kenya: A Critical Perspective. Sustainability, 10(12), 4386. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124386 (Open Access).
Kronenburg García, A. (2018). Territorial Conflicts, Agency and the Strategic Appropriation of Interventions in Kenya’s Southern Drylands. Sustainability, 10(11), 4156. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114156 (Open Access).
Huber R., Bakker M., Balmann A., Berger T., Bithell M., Britz W., Brown C., Grêt-Regamey A., Hang X., Le Q. B., Mack G., Meyfroidt P., Millington J., Müller B., Polhill G, Sun J., Seidl R., Troost C., Finger R. Representation of decision-making in European agricultural agent-based models. Agricultural Systems, in press. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2018.09.007(Pdf).
Meyfroidt, P., Roy Chowdhury, R., De Bremond, A., Ellis, E. C., Erb, K.-H., Filatova, T., Garrett, R. D., Grove, J. M., Heinimann, A., Kuemmerle, T., Kull, C. A., Lambin, E. F., Landon, Y., le Polain de Waroux, Y., Messerli, P., Müller, D., Nielsen, J., Peterson, G.D., Rodriguez García, V., Schlüter, M., Turner, B. L., II, Verburg, P.H. (2018) Middle-range theories of land system change. Global Environmental Change, 53, 52-67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.08.006 (Pdf).
Gardner, T. A., Benzie, M., Börner, J., Dawkins, E., Fick, S., Garrett, R., Godar, J., Grimard, A., Lake, S., Larsen, R., Mardas, N., McDermott, C., Meyfroidt, P., Osbeck, M., Persson, M., Sembres, T., Suavet, C., Strassburg, B., Trevisan, A., West, C., Wolvekamp, P. (2018). Transparency and sustainability in global commodity supply chains. World Development, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.05.025 (Open Access).
le Polain de Waroux, Y., Baumann, M., Gasparri, N. I., Gavier-Pizarro, G., Godar, J., Kuemmerle, T., Müller, R., Vázquez, F., Volante, J. N., Meyfroidt, P. (2017) Rents, actors, and the expansion of commodity frontiers in the Gran Chaco. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, in press, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/24694452.2017.1360761Pre-print pdf.
Meyfroidt P. (2017) Trade-offs between environment and livelihoods: Bridging the global land use and food security discussions. Global Food Security, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gfs.2017.08.001Pre-print pdf.
Meyfroidt P (2017) Mapping farm size globally: Benchmarking the smallholders debate. Environmental Research Letters, 12(3), 031002: https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aa5ef6 (Perspective). Pre-print pdf.
Erb, K. H., Luyssaert, S., Meyfroidt, P., Pongratz, J., Don, A., Kloster, S., Kuemmerle, T., Fetzel, T., Fuchs, R., Herold, M., Haberl, H., Jones, C.D., Marin Spiotta, E., McCallum, I., Robertson, E., Seufert, V., Fritz, S., Valade, A., Wiltshire, A., Dolman, A.J. (2016). Land management: data availability and process understanding for global change studies. Global Change Biologyhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13443 . pdf.

Publications related to the Project

Sitoe A., Nogueira Lisboa S. (2017) Avaliação dos impactos dos investimentos nas plantações florestais da Portucel-Moçambique nas tecnologias agrícolas das populações locais nos distritos de Ile e Namarrói, Província da Zambézia. Observador Rural 58, Observatório do Meio Rural, Maputo, Mozambique.

CONCUR - From Plans to Land Change

From plans to land change: how strategic spatial planning contributes to the development of urban regions

Project information

The overall objective of the CONCUR project is to analyse and operationalize how spatial planning and spatial policies affect land change in urban regions. This highly interdisciplinary project is ultimately aiming to develop a scientific basis for adequately integrating spatial policies into quantitative land-change modelling approaches at the urban regional level. To do it so, the project distinguishes three components intended to better analyse the role of spatial planning and spatial policies in the development of urban regions.
The three components are:
  1. Planning intentions which refer to spatially explicit information in maps and/or text that visualize and describe the development of spatial visions;
  2. Governance arrangements representing the overall activity through which plans are made and implemented;
  3. External conditions reflecting supra-national conditions affecting plan making and plan implementation.

These three components are crucial for understanding the role of spatial planning in urban land-use change and for better linking the spatial planning and land change domains (Hersperger et al. 2018).
The spatial focuses of this project are urban regions. Urban regions are defined in this project as multi-functional territories composed of a core city (i.e. the urban area) and a surrounding area with fuzzy boundaries that have statutory meanings (e.g. an institutionalized regional government) or are the result of informal governance arrangements and multi-level government cooperation.

Project structure

  • Evaluation of strategic spatial plans, is aimed at developing a sound understanding of strategic spatial planning by conducting planning evaluation research on the intentions expressed in the strategic plans of urban regions specifically regarding landscape science issues, green infrastructures (Gradinaru et al 2018) and land degradation (Oliveira et al. 2018).
  • Assessment of strategic spatial plan making and plan implementation processes in European urban regions is aimed at developing a framework - the SPlaMI framework for Strategic Spatial Plan-Making and Plan-Implementation. The framework provides an overarching conceptualisation of the main components and key interrelationships of strategic spatial planning.
  • Tools for integrating planning in land change models (e.g. CLUMondo) is aimed at operationalizing the understanding of planning intentions, governance arrangements and external conditions;  at developing tools and procedures to collect relevant data; and at implement planning into a land change model.
  • Case studies Zurich, Bucharest, Austin, Texas (USA), is aimed at analysing spatial planning and land change through mixed research methods in the urban regions of Zürich (Switzerland), Bucharest (Romania), and Austin, Texas (US). Findings resulting from the projects on planning evaluation and components of strategic planning processes will support the development of this project.


Grădinaru, S.R.; Hersperger, A.M., 2018: Green infrastructure in strategic spatial plans: evidence from European urban regions. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, (12 pp.). doi: 10.1016/j.ufug.2018.04.018
Grădinaru, S.R.; Iojă, C.I.; Pătru-Stupariu, I.; Hersperger, A.M., 2017: Are spatial planning objectives reflected in the evolution of urban landscape patterns? A framework for the evaluation of spatial planning outcomes. Sustainability, 9, 8: 1279 (17 pp.). doi: 10.3390/su9081279
Grădinaru, S.R.; Kienast, F.; Psomas, A., 2017: Using multi-seasonal Landsat imagery for rapid identification of abandoned land in areas affected by urban sprawl. Ecological Indicators, xx. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.06.022
Hersperger, A.M.; Oliveira, E.; Pagliarin, S.; Palka, G.; Verburg, P.; Bolliger, J.; Grădinaru, S., 2018: Urban land-use change: the role of strategic spatial planning. Global Environmental Change, 51: 32-42. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.05.001
Oliveira, E.; Hersperger, A.M., 2018: Disentangling the governance configurations of strategic spatial plan-making in European urban regions. Planning Practice and Research, doi: 10.1080/02697459.2018.1548218
Oliveira, E.; Hersperger, A.M., 2018: Governance arrangements, funding mechanisms and power configurations in current practices of strategic spatial plan implementation. Land Use Policy, 76: 623-633. doi: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2018.02.042
Oliveira, E.; Tobias, S.; Hersperger, A.M., 2018: Can strategic spatial planning contribute to land degradation reduction in urban regions? State of the art and future research. Sustainability, 10, 4: 949 (23 pp.). doi: 10.3390/su10040949
Pagliarin, S., 2018: Linking processes and patterns: spatial planning, governance and urban sprawl in the Barcelona and Milan metropolitan regions. Urban Studies, 19 pp.. doi: 10.1177/0042098017743668
Pagliarin, S., & Decker, P. D., 2018: Regionalised sprawl: conceptualising suburbanisation in the European context. Urban Research & Practice, (Online). doi.org/10.1080/17535069.2018.1539513
Palka, G., Grădinaru, S. R., Jørgensen, G., & Hersperger, A. M., 2018: Visualizing Planning Intentions: From Heterogeneous Information to Maps. Journal of Geovisualization and Spatial Analysis, 2, 2: 16. doi: doi.org/10.1007/s41651-018-0023-9

9 May 2019

Notre Dame should not be rebuilt by Guillaume Habert and Alice Hertzog

Source and credits


By:  Guillaume Habert, Alice Hertzog

As Notre Dame burnt last month, it was reported that the air hung heavy with the scent of old oak. A far cry from the stench of burnt cladding and plastic normally associated with housing fires in the French capital. The centuries-old wooden roof of the cathedral flared up quickly, fuelling a fire that ran through the night, and threatening to destroy the famous Parisian monument.

Contextualizing the role of universities to regional development: introduction to the special issue

Universities are increasingly expected to provide contributions to regional innovation and economic development processes. Despite much work on how universities can contribute to regional growth processes, there is much less consideration about why universities might choose to engage in regional development. Even though they may receive public funding, universities have no specific duty to engage, and together with recent pressures to internationalize, university regional engagement activities face tensions from these delocalization pressures. 

This special issue explores four ways in which universities negotiate these tensions in ensuring that their globally focused knowledge creation activities supports local innovation. 

First, universities can contribute to labour market upskilling, but where there are substantive problems associated with the absorption of those graduates on both the supply and demand sides, there be mismatch and even graduate underemployment. 

Second, world-class academics may contribute to host regions’ innovation networks, but this depends on local industries’ research and development geography, on individual academics’ motivations as well as highly skilled researchers’ willingness to stay in one region. 

Third, universities can steer and support academics towards regional engagement, but they risk engagement activities being exclusively oriented towards what high-level strategic actors believe to be important. Finally, universities can raise the quality of regional innovation strategy processes and create collective innovation assets, but are reliant upon grass-roots-change agents that might not necessarily be visible to strategic managers. A better understanding of these four tensions is necessary to deliver practical improvements to university contributions to smart, social and sustainable regional development.


8 May 2019

IPBES Global Assessment Summary for Policymakers


Nature and its vital contributions to people, which together embody biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, are deteriorating worldwide.

Direct and indirect drivers of change have accelerated during the past 50 years

Goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative3 changes across economic, social, political and technological factors

Nature can be conserved, restored and used sustainably while simultaneously meeting other global societal goals through urgent and concerted efforts fostering transformative change


IPBES Global Assessment

New #GlobalAssessment produced by nearly 150 leading int'l experts concludes that some 25% of #species across many terrestrial, freshwater & marine groups are threatened with #extinction

Special issue in European Planning Studies Spatial planning and place branding: rethinking relations and synergies

Introduction:  Kristof Van Assche, Raoul Beunen and Eduardo Oliveira  Rethinking planning-branding relations: an introduction . https:...