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From space, the human impact on the planet can be seen with the spread of cities - but cities themselves are spreading into much larger sprawling areas around and between. The planet has entered a 'Peri-cene' – a version of the anthropocene, a new kind of global human-environment system shaped by peri-urbanisation.

Peri-cene

The 'peri-urban' hinterland, the area between and around cities, shows the extended footprint of human settlements. Both poor and rich sprawl into the peri-urban, often in the line of flood, fire, storm, sea-level rise and other climate hazards. To improve the climate resilience of cities we have to start in the peri-urban.

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Photo by John Middelkoop on Unsplash

BACKGROUND

In many parts of the world peri-urban settlements, both rich and poor, lie directly in the path of disruptive climate change - for example -

  • hurricanes in Central America and South East Asia
  • wildfires in Australia and California
  • fluvial flooding in the UK and other parts of Europe

Much peri-urban development also reduces the capacity and resilience of its host city -

  • coastal mangroves are cleared to make way for hotels and golf courses
  • historic water management systems are filled in
  • forests see invasive development, with disruption of natural fire cycles

On the positive side, there are great examples of rebuilding the 'eco-urban' resilience. Such 'adaptive pathways', aim to combine new forms of ecological stewardship, collaborative governance, agro-ecological farming, digital technology, integrated water management, local jobs and livelihoods, low impact coastal defence, and so on.

With around 50 million per year arriving in peri-urban areas, it seems urgent and imperative to steer the path of development towards resilience and sustainability.

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THE PROJECT

The Peri-cene project aims to provide the first ever comprehensive assessment of global peri-urbanisation, with its climate impacts, risks and vulnerabilities.

We aim to provide new peri-urban spatial mapping with an interactive - P-CAT tool. Then we engage stakeholders in policy dialogues to explore the nature of the problem and possible ways forward. We will host the development of 'adaptive pathways' in a Policy Lab of 21 city-regions from around the world. And we look in detail at contrasting Case studies: from the global south in Chennai (India), and Manchester Region (UK).

To find out more about the project - download the project flyer and slides, and visit About the project

To find out more about the organizations and researchers involved, visit Partners and funders

Our project outputs can be found in Project resources

Front page image: by Rémi Kaupp CC-BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)


UPDATE

As of November 2020: The COVID-19 situation has caused long delays to the program: meetings with stakeholders are still difficult / impractical, and many policy-makers are focused on shorter horizons more than longer. The movements of the research team was severely restricted, and universities / research labs in many countries were basically in lockdown.

The project was granted a 6 month extension (of time but not funding): we will now run to 30th November 2021. As of now, early 2021, we have a great positive energy for the 2nd half of the project.

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NEWS ITEMS....


Mapping Indian risk & resilience

India has more than its share of natural and human challenges, and 2 recent events explored the agenda for adaptive & synergistic pathways…

International Conference on Challenges of Disasters: Vulnerability, Adaption and Resilience - 2-3 March, including ‘valedictory address’ by Joe Ravetz... This explores the human dimensions of DRR, and pathways for a ‘collective resilience intelligence’.

also, in a plenary lecture for the Indian National Cartographic Association, Feb 10th - www.INCA2020.org – we explored the role of digital mapping in society. We looked at examples of mapping for local community development, mapping for sustainable futures, and mapping for peri-urban risk & resilience.

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Future-wise Conversations

We are now launching the 2021 Future-wise Conversations – creative ‘connect-think-do-tanks’, exploring the scope & application of collective intelligence. Forward looking co-authors and co-thinkers are invited to join this open program of co-creation, in three main themes: Foresight, Smart-wise & Eco-wise. Upcoming sessions now include:

  • ‘Smart-wise cities 3.0’: How to design ‘smarter’ technology to avoid extraction, inequality etc, and enable ‘wiser’ human systems? (with Shanghai Smart Cities Development Institute ): Feb 26th:
  • ‘Green new deal 3.0’: how to do equal & inclusive zero-carbon transition? (with the EC-JRC industrial-transitions program): March 26th
  • ‘Strategic policy intelligence 3.0’: how to do next generation policy? practical applications in public & corporate planning (with the Higher School of Economics, Moscow): April 14th

In each we aim to co-produce new writing, both academic and general, as part of a Collaboratorium. And this aims to demonstrate how collective intelligence can work, for challenges such as climate change, economic decline or social inequality.

The Eco-wise theme brings a wider context & community to the Peri-cene and its Policy Lab of 21 cities ICLEI / UN-Habitat. The Eco-wise outline program includes:

  • ‘Green new deal 3.0’: how to do equal & inclusive zero-carbon transition? ((with EU-JRC): March 26th
  • ‘Bio-regional 3.0’: how to tame the global tiger? (with Univ Granada): May 28th ;
  • (Peri-cene Policy Lab workshops): also open to interested parties; (various dates in June-July);
  • ‘Food 3.0’: how to link agro-ecology, super-food & urban livelihood? (with Camley St Community Land Trust): Sept 24th;
  • ‘Resilience3.0': with the Peri-cene results, putting theory / practice together, & what next? (link to COP 26): Oct 29th

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1st Mediterranean Climate Assessment Report

The MedECC climate project on the Mediterranean area has just won jointly (with the International Commission against the Death Penalty), the "2020 North South Prize of the Council of Europe".

This is a fantastic recognition of the MedECC Coordinators and MedECC Science Officer in particular, together with the MedECC Lead Authors and Steering Committee.

This is the initial release - "the 1st Mediterranean Assessment Report entitled “Climate and Environmental Change in the Mediterranean Basin - Current Situation and Risks for the Future” prepared by MedECC, the independent network of Mediterranean Experts on Climate and environmental Change founded in 2015, is released today." (Lead authors include Joe Ravetz of the Peri-cene). The report is available via this link: <https://www.medecc.org/first-mediterranean-assessment-report-mar1/>

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City & Region program

The City & Region seminar series is hosted by the Auroville Institute for Sustainable Architecture, together with the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability, Tamil Nadu, India https://www.facebook.com/EngagingCitiesInitiative/

The session on 18th September presented the Peri-cene ideas with interactive polling and indepth discussion. It seems that conventional models of ‘resilience’ or ‘adaptation’ are not enough in the face of deeper and wider challenges – we need transformational models to get the science/tech, economics, politics, culture and psychology all working together – a kind of ‘collective resilience intelligence’. It’s also possible that historic ideas on inner harmony, can be translated into eco-design principles. Presentations & background papers are on https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fnvztutg85k8k1j/AACqlche8HgcoQcdGpe8f19va?dl=0

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IGNITION project

The ground-breaking IGNITION project gets under way - https://naturegreatermanchester.co.uk/ground-breaking-ignition-project-gets-under-way/

Partners across the city-region have signed a multi-million pound European contract for a project which looks to develop innovative ways of financing natural solutions to deliver resilience to increasingly extreme climate hazards. IGNITION will run for up to the next three years backed by £4 million from the EU’s Urban Innovation Actions initiative, in a significant announcement made a week after the Mayor of Greater Manchester’s second annual Green Summit. There is much cross-over with the Peri-cene project, which focuses on the peri-urban trans-boundary issues in GM and beyond, with a focus on longer term climate change risk and resilience.

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LOOPER project

The Learning Loops in the Public Realm www.looperproject.eu - concluded in October with a joint launch event - https://www.polisnetwork.eu/event/mobilising-mobility-towards-sustainable-mobility-one-neighbourhood-at-a-time/ - combined with a Loco-gov-3.0 Synergistic Conversations

This project is highly relevant to the governance theme of Peri-cene – i.e. how does collaborative governance or ecological stewardship really work? how to structure debate and decisions at multiple levels, on complex issues of risk and resilience, with large numbers of stakeholders? Can the digital platform help with ‘learning loops’, where communities and policy-makers can learn about problems and solutions in a positive structured way?

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Deeper City launch

For the Peri-cene challenges of climate change, sprawling cities, dysfunctional governance – there are powerful insights from the new book Deeper-City-Collective-Intelligence-and-the-Pathways-from-Smart-to-Wise (with background on Synergistics). This explores the workings of such deeper challenges, with wider communities and further transformations. Deeper City maps in practical detail the collective intelligence of cities, economies, technologies and so on, with the help of creative visual systems thinking – for instance we see here the circul-onomics principles of synergy between economic, social and ecological value….

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