America 2050 Research Seminar on Megaregions

March 19-21: Healdsburg, CA: Regional Plan Association and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy gathered planners and scholars from the U.S. and China for a two-day retreat to foster academic dialogue on megaregion planning.  RPA and Lincoln commissioned four papers on two topics: (1) comparative studies of Asian megaregions and (2) social equity implications of megaregion planning.  The forum featured presentations from the authors, followed by responses and discussions.  Read more about the papers and download the PowerPoint presentations in the extended entry.
California megaregions.jpg Image: Northern and Southern California Megaregions, Benner and Pastor (2008)

Papers included:

  1. "The Quest for Megaregion Equity: The Gulf Coast and Beyond" by Angela-Glover Blackwell.  This piece discusses the potential for megaregion planning to address the equity challenges of the Gulf Coast region post-hurricane Katrina.  The paper offers four basic principles in coordinating megaregion effort for equitable development: I) strategies focused on people and places; II) reducing disparities at geographical levels; III) ensuring investments benefit investors and citizens; and IV) promoting community participation, leadership and ownership. Download Glover-Blackwell's presentation.    
  2. "Megaregions and Spatial Development Planning in China" by Liangyong Wu, Weijia Wu and Ming Zhang.  This paper reviews the history of spatial development efforts in China.  The authors reveal how functional fragmentation and administrative restructuring have disrupted the ability of top-down planning strategies to coordinate regional and local efforts.  They also discuss the planning process and spatial plan-making with focus on specific challenges. Download Wu, Wu and Zhang's presentation.
  3. "Fractures and Fault Lines: Growth and Equity in California's Megaregions" by Chris Benner and Manuel Pastor.  This article addresses three questions: I) what is scale of processes creating inequality? II) What is the scale of effective solutions? And III) what is the scale of political will?  The authors make the points that equitable regions are better positioned for economic growth and that equity must be wrapped up in economic strategy.  However, they raise questions about the megaregion approach because of its potential to diffuse equity issues, because politics are difficult at this scale and that existing literature focuses on technical aspect more than social forces and politics. Download Benner and Pastor's presentation.
  4. "Governing the Fragmented Mega-city Regions in China: Challenges and Policies in the Pearl River Delta" by Anthony G.O. Yeh and Jiang Xu.  Using the Pearl River Delta as a case study, this work observes the overwhelming speed of urbanization in China, and the challenges of widespread misuse of land, sprawl, congestion, and environmental impacts.  The authors discuss the development of urban agglomerations and policy-centric spatial forms.  They offer implications for governance and planning, as well as potential policy strategies. Download Yeh and Xu's presentation. 


Final papers from the seminar will be posted in late May 2008.