Rural development in Europe and the Global South

The future of the rural is a major research topic at the RSO. What will the rural look like in the future, how will it be redefined and reshaped, by whom, and how? We already observe that some areas experience de-growth, a shrinking population, and impoverishment of services and facilities, while other areas remain vibrant and centers of growth. For centuries, the rural has been identified with those places where most of our food, fiber, and fuel are produced. Today, rural areas are also identified by their typical landscapes and sceneries and as providers of tourism and recreation, as well as living spaces with distinct markers of identity and belonging and diverse ecosystem services that play a crucial role in times of climate change. This multiplicity of old and newly attributed social functions and the wide-ranging meanings of rural areas for different people cause us to question the definition of rurality and focus our attention on the relations by which the rural is produced. Who are considered the legitimate producers of the rural of the future, and whose activities are restricted or ended? Which new actors will be welcomed, and which not? How are we taking care of rural governance in an inclusive and synergetic way, with policies that take account of rural diversity as well as the interdependence of the rural and urban? In short, thinking about the new ruralities come with challenging questions.