Research project PROmoting Sustainable development and regional attractiveness through PERi-urban Areas

In progress PROSPERA
Prospera eu

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Main research question

PROSPERA is an interregional cooperation project aimed at the exchange of knowledge and experience on the sustainable development of peri-urban areas. The general objective is to protect (qualitative) open space in peri-urban areas under pressure from urban sprawl and to promote economic regional development in a sustainable way. This should at the same time promote regional attractiveness (natural heritage) and safeguard important ecosystem services of open space, such as food production and biodiversity.
To achieve this, the 7 project partners from 5 EU countries (IT-EL-SE-BE-HU) agree on three levers. These will enable a shift from traditional management in which urban and rural areas are seen as opposites, to a new management in which protection of natural heritage forms a basis for economic development in suburban areas. These levers are:
1. Smart management
2. Ecological (and local) value chains
3. Sustainable public-private partnerships

Research approach

ILVO is responsible for the methodological underpinning and guidance in the first phase of the project. On the basis of study visits and knowledge exchange sessions, a process of interregional learning is set up. Relevant stakeholders in the 5 regions are identified and involved in the process. Together with them, the project partners then map the main challenges and at least 15 inspiring cases per region. On this basis, each region draws up an action plan with concrete policy instruments. In the second phase of the project, the action plans are effectively implemented in the regions. The role of ILVO is more limited in that phase.


The quality of open space in areas around cities is under pressure. This project focuses on medium-sized cities. They are confronted with specific challenges and do not have the economies of scale or budgets that large central cities do have in their search for solutions. By mapping out the challenges and successful cases in 5 European regions and comparing them with each other, the project partners can distil policy recommendations for rural development which are (also) relevant for Flanders.
The participating regions are the municipality of Reggio Emilia (IT), the city of Ghent (BE), the municipality of Aristoteli Chalkidikis (GR), EDC Debrecen Centre for urban and economic development (HU), and the municipality of Varberg (SE).