Helsinki pathways

Circular economy of cities and peri-urban areas - adaptation pathway rural & peri-urban - starting from transition in the forest areas: peri-urban is part of the solution - based on biodiversity / urban greening. There is 'everyman's right to go to the forest' - but - growing pressure on green areas - a way of living which is behind the peri-urban agenda

integrated spatial planning – some structural challenges:

  • low density planned areas? both planning & markets are now pushing towards urban areas. Should be part of strategic plan?? but maybe impossible to control. Many areas planned before 2010 are lower density.
  • As for lake district & coastal areas: midsummer period - population can double or 3x in some areas, challenge for services: traffic jams - huge road investment in peri-urban for logistics. For dense urban areas in Finland - 20% have summer houses, or stay with relatives: is the out-migration continuing / permanent due to pandemic? Some mobile data.
  • Many areas e.g. Uusimaa has declining population - peri-urban infrastructure can be flexible & easy to change, e.g. heating, water etc.
  • There are also different languages e.g. Estonians now moving to peri-urban.
  • We can revisit the urban fabrics concepts: implications for polycentric city structure?? transit cities are growing around main rail connections: but many others are mainly automobile cities -
  • There is a need for centralized services in peri-urban - but people want more local services: growing tensions between Helsinki & outer peri-urban areas, competition for services which are going more centralized - e.g. before, school in every village, now these are more centralized

In response, potential pathways include - (preliminary menu for debate and research)

urban-rural linkages in the peri-urban:

- Urban & rural areas are highly inter-dependent, in resources, infrastructure, housing, travel, leisure, ecosystems services etc. The peri-urban adds another dimension to that mix. The aim of the ‘PURL’ is to maximize opportunities and minimize negative impacts on each kind of territory. ‘Sprawl repair’ & similar ideas aim to mobilize the local synergies wherever possible.

water / flood / storm adaptation

- Short term: we need ways to manage rising floodwaters and extreme events, via SUDS, walls, canals, basins etc. Longer term: (in some areas) we need to rethink – where are the settlements, what kind of forms & surroundings, how can low impact eco-design manage a transformation towards a water-friendly co-existence.

landscape diversity & resilience

- A wider agenda is for sustainable / adaptive / resilient landscapes, soils, forests, water bodies & wetlands etc, both within / without formal designations. Policies for forestry, farming, infrastructure, housing, business, leisure & tourism etc, can steer towards adaptive planning & design for the surroundings of housing, industry, farming etc. These may be strengthened by eco-systems markets, green finance, carbon offsets etc.

demographic shifts & eco-housing

- While much peri-urban expansion is in middle-upper income suburbs & gated communities, some areas see an influx of alternative lifestyle, ex-urban small-holders, local eco-entrepreneurs etc. This bring new opportunities for co-housing, housing with small-holdings, low impact development etc. This can change the social mix & increase the local diversity & resilience.

digital platforms & monitoring

- A digital approach sees potential to enhance climate adaptation, flood defence, ecosystems management & markets. Indicators & metrics for systems change, adaptation and resilience can be defined & monitored by local stakeholders in combination with experts.

Market-led governance, finance & enterprise

- Beyond the limits of formal government, market led approaches may enable innovation, forward investment, enterprise of all kinds. Ecosystems markets, green finance, impact investment, or social return on investment may bridge the gap between ecological social & economic values. Public services and public procurement can also have a powerful effect, such as local / organic food policies or ecosystems reinvestment.

Collaborative governance, civil partnerships

- As the peri-urban agenda crosses many boundaries & involves many sectors, new forms of civil society partnerships, networks, forums, dialogues can emerge. These may be based on water catchments, bio-regions, or terrestrial eco-regions, as well as economic zones, commuting patterns etc. Government can enable these with round table structures, deliberative processes, core subsidies, rules for transparency & accountability.

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