Integrated Research Programme into the
Dynamics and Management of Spatial Interactions between Socio-economic and Environmental Systems in Northwest Europe
In densely populated areas, like Western Europe, pressure on land is ever increasing. Associated with this process are environmental quality problems following socio-economic developments. The development of these problems stems for a significant part from a lack of adequate physical planning. The existing framework for spatial policy is inadequate as it is insufficiently aimed at sustainable spatial development taking into account social, economic, and ecological needs.
This inadequacy finds its roots, amongst other things, in the absence of a scientific knowledge base for integrated physical planning policy and related legislature. Although a lot of knowledge already exists within the scientific disciplines, integration of knowledge on natural and social processes for integrated physical planning involves a number of difficulties.
At Utrecht University a research programme has started with the aim to develop a generic theoretical and methodological framework for understanding and modelling the complex interactions between socio-economic and environmental systems. Tools will be developed to communicate the knowledge to actors and stakeholders involved in spatial planning. The geographical domain of the programme consists of the West European Delta-region, particularly the poly-nucleated metropolitan regions of the Randstad Holland, the Rhine-Ruhr area, and the Flemish Diamond.
The programme involves researchers from human geography, physical geography, environmental sciences, physical planning and public administration and law. The 5-year programme will run from January 2000-December 2004 and has a starting budget of nearly 2 million Euro. The programme structure comprises some 10 different projects which are arranged according to the levels described in the theoretical framework. The research is part of the research institutes URU (Urban Research centre Utrecht) and UCEL (Utrecht Centre for Environment and Landscape Dynamics).
A full description of the project can be obtained in PDF format (in Dutch; 151 kb). A limited description is available on the internet. On this website brief descriptions are available of the theoretical framework, the methodological framework, the programme structure, the case area and the Ph.D- and Postdoc projects.