ISSN: 1129-4469 - Online: 2420-921X

Urban and regional social, economic and environmental human conditions and the terrain of action and practice of spatial planning have profoundly changed since the foundation of Plurimondi.

In the "new" market economies the logic of competition between capitals has been transformed into a competition between cities and regions, which in a period of welfare state crisis are forced to orient their development in such a way as to facilitate market economies and attract investment. Narratives of resurgent cities, with their emphasis on assuring the best conditions for volatile capitals to compete in the global economy and stories reporting successful partnerships between key public and private actors, have become a symbol of a successful logic which wins in the global economy. Yet this logic, whereby the social, economic and environmental costs and benefits of competitive development are often ignored, leaves little room for issues to do with people's needs, democracy, social and environmental justice. The result is that urban landscapes are increasingly characterized by fragmentation, individualization, polarization and separation between citizens and local government.

The speeding up of globalization and the spread of information technology have changed cultural and social relations between different localities in the world. In the network society the vanishing of borderlines between space and place, global and local, and the related emergence of a more democratic and equal world seems to be more virtual than real. As globalization progresses, social, economic and environmental differences continue to force people who live in more disadvantaged areas to embrace new lifestyles and/or leave their country of origin and move to cities. Our planet is more and more often described as a planet of slums and ''mongrel cities'' posing crucial problems for issues of social justice and citizenship.

Although environmental and economic integration has become a recurring issue in everyday discourses on local and global development, in practice they are still separate fields of action both at a scientific and political level. Ultimately integration continues to be carried out by adopting the logic of the free market economy. Environmental management practices based on governmental "green" technologies prevail over the need to rethink our development from an environmental perspective and to deepen our environmental knowledge. Efficiency, expert advice and governance are considered to be what we really need to face new complex social, economic and environmental challenges. In this perspective, citizens are simply informed ex post and local and global NGOs are induced to separate their actions from social and environmental "realities" if they want to have a say in the "new" environmental decisional arenas.

Rather than enlarging spaces of hope and generating new ideas, global and/or local networks and different practices of governance, which have emerged as an alternative way to face these challenges, seem to facilitate economic globalisation and the spread of hidden asymmetric networks of power in which people and civil society can only play a marginal role. What kind of citizenship and democratic life can be imagined and practiced in a globalized world continues to be a controversial issue.

Many researchers think that in a globalized world planning studies run a serious risk of an " unconditional surrender" to dominant planning discourses and practices. In that case, research rather than sustaining a critical approach would diffuse a global logic which induces a separation of planning practices and theories from their specific contexts of action, increasing the distance between planning theory and practice.

In this changing panorama the aims and scope which led to the foundation of Plurimondi are still valid .

Plurimondi continues to be an international journal of research on human settlements in which empirical and theoretical planning studies are related. It focuses on crucial planning challenges emerging in evolving social and political arenas. Its aim is to promote and sustain the wider debate between plural and critical studies, which are sensitive to issues of democracy, social and environmental justice, and to the strategic role that information technologies play in urban and regional development processes.