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Powerful and large regional authorities are needed to preserve green open space for urban agglomerations

Carmen Aalbers, Stephan Pauleit


Identification and assessment of strategies for the conservation and multifunctional development of green open space in the urban fringe of European urban regions is a challenge to both the academic and the real life world. Within the EU funded research project PLUREL – Peri-urban land use relationships – ‘Strategies and sustainability assessment tools for urban rural linkages’, we developed a methodology for international comparison of regional strategies that considers the policy context at supra-regional level. This methodology helped to explain the reported impacts of strategies. For this we further elaborated the theoretical concept of policy arrangements and policy dimensions by Van Tatenhove et al. (2000) and Arts et al. (2006).

Strategies and policy contexts referred to are from Montpellier Agglomeration, a formal coalition of now 31 municipalities, Leipzig-Halle region, a functional urban region (FUR) with governance coalitions around green open space preservation strategies, and Hangzhou in China, a very large city with hierarchical formal government.

Results showed how the means of influence from different government levels can complement and reinforce each other and raise the effectiveness of the strategies. A combination of hierarchical government with a horizontal coalition between local authorities covering the full FUR can be very effective for managing the land use developments in the urban fringe, even when private business, CSOs or other NGOs are not included in the coalition. Supra-regional authorities do not have to possess the land resources, but setting the Rules of the Game is a powerful means of influence to coerce local municipalities to preserve green open space in the urban fringe.


governance, green open space, urban fringe, urban region, policy evaluation, policy regime, spatial concept, multifunctional development, international comparison

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