Urban and rural development

Christian Hoffmann, Ioan Ianoș

In 2050, about 80% of the Europeans will live in cities. This will widen the contrast between the prospering urban and agglomeration areas in comparison to shrinking, peripheral regions or areas with weak potentials to growth. Which consequences do thereof evolve for the Carpathians, looking to the urban and rural development? The main challenges for urban and rural areas are represented by the adaptation process to the climate change and to new economies. Regarding to the Carpathian mountain areas there are huge development discrepancies, due to the attraction capacity of the cities/towns, due to the higher income registered in the urban economies and due to emigration from rural to urban or international destinations.

The mountain area of the new EU member states have different history and try to achieve the same development way: acceleration of the urban concentration process in small development poles and increasing the accessibility to the rural localities. The looser of the new national and European policies is the village, and, particularly, the mountain village. For the scientists, decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and population the main goal is to prepare the mountain space for increasing his capacity to offer protection for the communities in the next decades. In this respect the modernization of the mountain villages, keeping their perennial values is the most important objective. It’s about the type of village, internal structure, the rural economy, ethnographic and cultural issues.

The path dependency could be an important issue to analyze and to preserve the values for the future development. So, the present-day transition process opens a broad variety of rural development. Particular the functional interrelatedness between urban zones and rural areas is herein decisive. The achievements of rural sustainability and its resilience towards “de-growth” is deeply tied to urban economics. The central drivers to stimulate rural economics were and still are the mobility regime that enables the access to urban labor markets and the inflow and circulation of city-people. Consequently, the sensitivity in Europe towards the inter-linkage of the rural–urban continuum (peri-urbanisation) is gaining steadily more influence for spatial development. Multi-local people working and living in different places increase. This continuously raising interconnectedness between cities and rural areas and their mutual request for resources, capital and territory, is enhancing the coalescence of the traditional urban and rural functions. To deal with these new complex behavior-patterns of mutual demands for mobility, commuting, working, living, food, goods or services requires a paradigm change.

The raising meaningfulness of peri-urbanisation because of the functional interconnectedness of urban and rural developments and the rapidly changing socio-economic context, should call the pan-Carpathian research initiatives to rethink the view of former spatial and landscape planning concepts concerning previous categorizations “of what is urban and what is rural”. Hence we have to ask: is it important to preserve rural mountain areas and the Carpathians in particular? And secondly: is it possible that a new rural development in the mountain areas of Central and Eastern Europe can provide an alternative to urban concentration trends?

Recommendations for future research:

(1) Integrating socio-economic context in spatial and landscape planning for enabling environment to stimulate sustainable rural economy and for strengthening the resilience of regional and remote areas in the Carpathians.

(2) Learning from the behavior of villages in dealing sustainable with natural resources in rural areas as a good practice example for the European population to diminish in a quite efficient way the effects of climate change.

(3) Research initiatives (H2020) for the Carpathians linking Carpathian resources with urban demands could open new opportunities. Linking that knowledge to practice will gain new future perspectives for the mountain space. That could help to preserve isolated households and family farms as well as small settlements (hamlets) and to keep the local and regional traditions.

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