The ability to control and manipulate light is a fundamental aspect that is at the very core of the development of integrated photonic circuits. It is desirable to achieve such control down to a scale that is comparable to or smaller than the wavelength of light, to enable highly efficient interaction with matter, which can eventually go down to single photon levels. Photonic crystals are particularly appealing in that respect, by providing optical bandgaps and facilitating dispersion shaping, through the precise patterning of layers. This is to be accomplished ideally in compact designs that are well-suited for fabrication with current technology and by utilizing material that has the capacity for integration. By exploiting existing light-matter interaction mechanisms, the available toolset for component design can be expanded, allowing to build optical chips with a wide range of functionality. In the current work, a platform for integrated III-nitride photonic components on silicon is designed and implemented. A refined fabrication process for III-nitride micro- and nanostructures is developed, leading to the realization of suspended optical devices with both high performance and structural stability. Thorough optical and material characterization of the semiconductor layers is conducted to identify potential limitations, particularly with epitaxial GaN on Si technology, with respect to current crystal growth techniques. AlN layers based on a sputter-deposition process are proposed as an alternative for passive optical devices. Two-dimensional photonic crystals are designed in gallium nitride and aluminum nitride, targeting operational wavelengths in the near-infrared telecom range. Optimized photonic crystal cavities are considered for maximizing light confinement in the semiconductor layers. By utilizing resonance enhancement, second and third harmonic generation are demonstrated in gallium nitride photonic crystal cavities featuring record-high quality factor values. This is achieved through a far-field coupling approach under low-power continuous-wave operation. High conversion efficiencies are attained in gallium nitride, exceeding previous demonstrations in the material. Propagation of the harmonic signals in the semiconductor layer is analyzed using finite-element time-domain modeling for the feasibility of an extraction mechanism. Moreover, slow light coupled cavity waveguides are developed in a silicon platform, relying on optimized cavity designs that feature wideband operation in the near-infrared telecom range. A record-high value for group-index bandwidth product is achieved in the devices through improved design implementation. An end-fire based Fourier-space imaging technique is applied for the characterization of the optical structures, through which spatially-selective reconstruction of dispersion maps enabled accurate extraction of slow light properties. The influence of finite-size effects on slow light behavior is elucidated by implementing extended cavity chains. Furthermore, light transport regimes across the dispersion band are identified including the transition towards diffusive light transport and subsequent localization. The performance of coupled-cavity waveguides in the presence of disorder is quantified, revealing constraints on slow light transport, considering state-of-the-art fabrication.