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Peri Urban Sustainability

On The Edge

A Steps Centre Project

About This Website

This website provides a platform for debate about sustainability and the peri-urban. It brings together academic literature from many disciplines, with non-academic material, films, photos and news media, and also links to relevant organisations throughout the world.


The website spans theoretical material and practical insights, and aims to encourage mutual learning and debate across some of these traditional divides.

We particularly want to encourage the exploration of alternative ways forward for the planning and management of the peri-urban interface. These ways forward might recognise the benefits of urban-rural linkages, while beginning to address the immense challenges of environmental degradation and social justice.


The material on the website is organised into four main themes:

  • SUSTAINABILITY: How sustainability is understood and sought by interest groups in the context of the peri-urban.
  • POLICY: Policies and formal plans – how priorities are set and how they impact on the livelihoods of peri-urban communities, natural resources, services and the environment.
  • SURVIVAL: How vulnerable peri-urban communities manage to survive in challenging peri-urban situations, and mobilise for goods, rights and services.
  • MOVING FORWARD: What we can learn about alternative ways of planning, and managing the peri-urban interface for improved environmental integrity and social justice?

Who is behind this site?

The STEPS Centre’s peri-urban project has produced this website.

We want to showcase the diversity of views and information on the subject, and encourage comment and debate.

We welcome suggestions of resources to add to this website. We would also especially like to hear of more organisations with an interest in peri-urban sustainability issues in the Global South. You can contact us at or write to:

Dr Fiona Marshall
University of Sussex

What is the peri-urban?

Peri-urban areas are often found on the edge of cities and towns. But the peri-urban is not only about place – it’s about flows of commodities, natural resources, people and pollution. Peri-urban studies also look at processes that intensify linkages between the urban and the rural.

In peri-urban areas, polluting industries, waste disposal, mining, construction or large scale cash crops compete with small scale agriculture, common lands or conservation areas.

The flows of resources and ideas offer enormous opportunities, but the peri-urban can be a very challenging place to live. Access to water and other goods and services can be difficult. Official policies and attitudes rarely seem to work in favour of poor and marginalised peri-urban communities.

In the longer term, poor management of the peri-urban can have negative impacts on nearby cities or rural areas.

What is sustainability?

Sustainability is an approach which takes into account social, economic and environmental factors. We are interested in exploring different understandings of sustainability as it relates to the peri-urban, and how these understanding impact on people's actions.

To find out more about the STEPS Centre's work, visit


The resources in this website are organised into four themes.

Visit About This Project to find out more.