14 January 2023

New publication: Non-enforcement and non-compliance in Dutch cases of soft densification

A new publication by GoverDENSE team members Josje Bouwmeester, Jean-David Gerber, Thomas Hartman and Deniz Ay shows how the Dutch municipality of Utrecht tries to control when and where housing subdivisions into multiple rental units take place. Through flexible regulations, which allows for case-by-case decision making, the municipality tries to get a grip on this prevalent form of soft densification. Some investors have responded to these new regulations by illegally subdividing.

Surprisingly, the findings of the paper reveal that planners sometimes expect, know, and legitimize illegal subdivisions. Especially the housing scarcity was mentioned as a reason why local authorities do not always enforce subdivision regulations. Local authorities use non-enforcement to bridge the formal planning process and mutual agreements between local stakeholders. Through this, planning authorities can use the flexibility provided by informality to respond to complex public problems.

22 November 2022

Participation in the Swiss Geoscience Meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland

Jessica Verheij participated in the Swiss Geoscience Meeting in Lausanne on 19 November. She contributed to the session Human Geographies: Cities, Regions, Economies with a presentation titled “To whom does it belong? Urban green commons in a densifying neighbourhood in Bern”.

27 October 2022

New publication by Jean-David Gerber

The publication analyzes the role of power in planning. Gerber & Debrunner develop a theoretical framework, which can be used to capture the role of power in spatial development projects. The authors apply the concept in a case study in Zurich, Switzerland.

12 September 2022

Participation in the International Mountain Conference in Innsbruck

Sarah Steinegger visited the IMC Conference in Innsbruck (Austria) from 12 to 15 September. She contributed with a presentation on her exploratory fieldwork in Apurímac (Peru): the Participatory Guarantee System as a decommodified and community-based certification system that enhances collective, producers-based governance of mountain foodscapes.

09 September 2022

You are looking for a topic for your thesis?

You are invited to come to the information event of our research unit. Please find further information in the document below (only in German).

Flyer information event (German) (PDF, 266KB)

24 August 2022

Participation in the RC21 Conference in Athens, Greece

Deniz Ay attended the RC21 Conference in Athens from 24-26 August in Athens. She held a presentation in which waiting as a mode of governance in protracted urban renewal projects was discussed.

23 August 2022

Welcome Philipa Birago Akuoko

We are happy to soon welcome Philipa in our research group. She will study the governance of the informal economy in urban Ghana in relation to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.

15 August 2022

New website for the research project GoverDENSE

Stay tuned for the newest updates on this SNF-funded research about the governance of sustainable densification in Switzerland and the Netherlands here.

22 July 2022

Participation in the International Geographic Union Conference in Paris

Sarah Steinegger and Jessica Verheij attended the IGU Conference in Paris from 18 – 22 July in Paris, France. Both contributed with presentations on their research: Jessica presented on the production of green spaces as urban commons in densification projects. Sarah held a presentation on whether collective, producers-based governance of mountain foodscapes can account for cultural and regional dimensions of sustainability.

14 July 2022

Work-retreat in the Jura

Our research group spent two days near La Brévine. Work discussions were complemented with hiking, swimming and cooking together.

8 July 2022

PLPR conference

The GoverDENSE-Crew attended the international conference on planning, law and property rights PLPR and contributed with a total of six presentations. Moreover, Josje Bouwmeester was elected as new PhD coordinator.

8 July 2022

Participation in the Worldwide Perspectives on Geographical Indications Conference in Montpellier

Sarah Steinegger attended the Worldwide Perspectives on Geographical Indications Conference in Montpellier from 5-8 July in Montpellier, France. She held a presentation on whether Geographical Indications on food constitute a Faustian bargain between heritage preservation and better access to origin-based market segments.

20 June 2022

New publication by Deniz Ay

The publication shows a case study of an urban renewal project in Diyarbakir, Turkey and focusses on the governance of the redevelopment.

25 May 2022

New SNSF Sinergia research project starting in January 2023

The COMMONPATHS research project will build on a collaboration of four research group. We will analyze the contribution of commons to urban decommodification and postgrowth organization of society. The new common path Here you will find more information.

18 May 2022

New SNSF SPIRIT research project starting in January 2023

A team bringing together researchers from the University of Bern and the University of Ghana in Accra will analyze land titling processes from a gender perspective. The project focuses on formalized arrangements of collective landownership (FACT).

7 March 2022

New visiting researcher

Dr. Pauliina Krigsholm will support our group until May as visiting researcher. As postdoc she does research on land policy, the institution of property rights and land governance at Aalto University, Finland.

News & events

New group poster

The unit's group poster was redesigned and is displayed in the GIUB foyer.


European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant for Christoph Oberlack

For his project “Is environmental justice necessary for human well-being? Comparative analysis of certification schemes, inclusive business, and solidarity economy strategies (COMPASS)”, Christoph Oberlack of CDE and GIUB, University of Bern, has been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant. The project examines the role of environmental justice in enabling certification systems, inclusive business models, and solidarity-economy strategies to enhance the well-being of smallholder producers. In particular, it investigates the value chains of coffee and cocoa in Peru and Switzerland.


New scientific publication

Barnett AJ, Partelow S, Frey U, García-Lozano A, Mancha-Cisneros MdM, Oberlack C, Ratajczyk E, Smith H, Villamayor-Tomás S, Whitney CK. 2020. Defining success in the commons: addressing problem orientations, multi-dimensionality, norms and trade-offs. International Journal of the Commons (in press).


New PhD-candidate

We are happy to welcome Jessica Verheij to our unit. Jessica's PhD-project will analyze processes of governance that can lead to the densification of cities, by looking at case-studies in Bern and Utrecht (the Netherlands). Focus will be on understanding how issues related to social sustainability can be ensured over time.


New PhD-candidate

We are happy to welcome Josje Bowmeester to our unit. Josje's PhD project focuses on the conditions under which spatial planning can more effectively lead to increased densification while also retaining urban quality for all, including vulnerable socio-economic groups.


New publication

Van Bers C., A. Delaney, L. Cramer, H. Eakin, S. Eriksen, T. Evans, L. Jones, K. Korhonen-Kurki, C. Oberlack, C. Pahl-Wostl, M. Purdon, I. Vasileiou. 2019. Advancing the research agenda on food systems governance and transformations. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability (in press).

Defense of Timothy Adams dissertation

Large-scale Land Investments, Institutional Change and Gender Relations: An In-depth Analysis of Land Investments in the Sugarcane Sector of Malawi

Location: Institute of Geography, Hallerstrasse 12, Bern
Room 001
Date: August 29, 2019 at 09.30 am.



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