Governing urban-rural relations and synergies: evolving theories and practices

Convenors: Han Wiskerke (contact person) – Rural Sociology Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands (email: han.wiskerke@wur.nl); Mehak Majeed – Department of Economics, University of Kashmir, India (email: dhaarmehak.scholar@kashmiruniversity.net)

Objectives: The 21st century is often described as the century of cities to capture a) the ongoing global process of urbanisation, and b) the growing importance of cities, city-regions and associated local and regional authorities in international trade and in governing challenges related to spatial planning, public health, transport, climate change, employment, and (more recently) food. This not only has an impact on urban development but also on the development of rural areas (in close proximity to cities as well as remote rural areas). The fact that urban and rural development are inextricably interrelated is increasingly recognized in academic and policy debates, yet the way in which these interrelations unfold and how they can be governed to enhance synergies between urban and rural development is not well understood. Therefore this working group seeks to unravel the theoretical and empirical state of the art regarding the governance of urban-rural relations and synergies by exploring, conceptually and in everyday reality, which governance arrangements and models are (potentially) fostering or hampering urban-rural relations and synergies. We are especially interested in comparing experiences from Europe and other parts of the world, in particular from ‘developing’ economies. With this working group we aim to foster discussions about the urban-rural governance approaches, link theory and practice and ultimately generate input for a special issue on this topic.

Topic: Mutually beneficial relations along rural–peri-urban–urban trajectories have been shown to contribute substantially to sustainable and inclusive development. Success in actually creating synergies is largely determined by decisions made at local and regional levels. Well-designed multi-level and multi-actor governance arrangements and models are key to strengthening beneficial relations between rural, peri-urban and urban areas. A challenge for actors and institutions involved at different governance levels and in different policy domains is to contribute to a more balanced, future-oriented, sustainable and spatially integrated place-based development that takes into account synergies across rural–peri-urban–urban areas. Urbanisation processes, for example, can contribute positively to rural development by providing access to markets, services, information and knowledge if carefully designed and managed. Rural areas, in turn, can offer urban centres amenities that contribute positively to urban quality of life, regional competitiveness, cultural identity and resilience. The problem is that current governance arrangements are often not conducive to fostering such synergies and that potential mutual benefits are sometimes not even recognised.

 

Formats: We will organise two subsequent sessions of 90 minutes each, the first one with a focus on conceptual and theoretical issues, the second with a practical focus by presenting and discussing several concrete successful and failed examples/cases of governing urban-rural synergies.

For the theoretical/conceptual session (90 minutes) we propose to organise a discussion about the pros and cons of different governance approaches and arrangements for fostering urban-rural relations and synergies in a World Cafe setting. Prospective hosts (maximum 4) of a World Cafe table are asked to submit a short paper outlining the governance concept(s) they would like to further develop in discussion with World Cafe participants. The last 20 minutes of the session will be dedicated to a short plenary feedback from the different World Cafe tables.

For the empirical/practical session (90 minutes) we propose a format that combines Lightning talks and Fishbowl. Up to a maximum of 6 speakers are invited, by submitting a short paper describing and analysing a concrete case/example of a governance arrangement, to orally present (in 3 minutes, no slides) their case, after which they are questioned by critical listeners in a Fishbowl setting. The aim is to have 6 Lightning talks/Fishbowl sessions (3 minutes Lightning talk followed by 12 minutes Q&A) in a 90 minutes Working Group session.