Making the most of peri-urban ecosystem services


Ecosystem services are vital for peri-urban and urbanising areas, and the people who live within them. In contexts of rapid urbanisation, these services are under threat from redevelopment, pollution and overconsumption, and there are gaps in the policies and structures that should protect them. Despite these challenges, there are opportunities for local authorities and citizens to work together and join up policy with action on the ground. Peri-urban ecosystems can provide vital support for functions such as disaster risk management, flood control, reduction of urban heat island effects, air and water purification, food and water security, and waste management. Supporting them is essential in order to meet national government policies and commitments on multiple issues linked to environment, health and poverty reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals and the resilient cities agenda.

There are important governance challenges involved in safeguarding and harnessing peri-urban ecosystem services. These include rapid change, ambiguity over boundaries, and gaps in policies and regulations.

Involving communities in appraisal and decision-making is crucial to the success of initiatives to protect peri-urban ecosystem services. Taking account of local cultures and histories is important. In many cases, the process will also provide crucial missing data and insights, build trust and avoid misunderstandings. There is a need to share good practice, cases and opportunities between municipalities; and to provide opportunities for decision-makers at national level to learn from them.

This briefing was prepared for the Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme and draws on material from the Risks and Responses to Urban Futures project.