Whilst there is no accepted definition of what precisely constitutes the peri-urban interface (PUI), the PUI has been conventionally conceptualised by emphasising three different sets of variables: physical attributes, such as proximity to the city and poor infrastructure; socio-economic variables; or urban-rural flows (of people, energy, goods).
However, most interventions that might be regarded as explicitly focused on the PUI take as their starting point a physical definition, such as the urban periphery, the green belt and so on. Also, peri-urban interventions are usually inscribed in planning and management efforts for metropolitan areas, but institutions with an overall responsibility for the environment with a remit that cuts across administrative boundaries are very rare.
The aim of this paper is to present an overview of current government policies and strategies that have a direct or indirect impact on the peri-urban interface, giving particular attention to sustainability and poverty issues. Two kinds of policies are distinguished: those with an explicit spatial dimension which directly or indirectly affect developments in the PUI. And those policies of a sectoral nature generally lacking an explicit spatial dimension but whose application has (intended or unintended) effects on the environment of the peri-urban interface.
Policies are also examined in view of three further features: the problems to which they are intended to respond, their institutional context and the tools available to policy-makers.