Rural-urban linkages: Syngergies, threats and limitations
This edition (PDF) of the Rural 21 magazine provides advices and examples of best practices as well as failures to bridge the gap between rural and urban regions. The United Nations New Urban Agenda implies changing diets and thus the need to include sustainable food systems for the cities. So the rural areas have to transform in parallel. Secondary cities are growing enormously in the rural areas and play a crucial role in coping with waste management or wastewater treatment and other problems that are arising. Spatial regional planning approaches have to be adjusted to take rural and urban development into account in parallel. Do rural surroundings really feed urban areas? And what about other flows such as cash in form of remittances, or the dynamics of geographical closeness which can lead to health risks? Land and resource conflicts may arise when cities are growing, and the demand for goods and services is changing production in the rural areas. Do such linkages pose an advantage or a threat? The introduction article by FAO states that for urban development, rural elements, whether it is food, ecosystem services, natural resources or labour, should be better connected with urban elements, such as financial services, information and energy; to work towards a more sustainable development. It states that physical or virtual distance between rural and urban does not really exist with the technologies in transportation or ICT. So that it is a change of mind sets for the environment we already live in, and accept the fact that we cannot live without one or the other. The magazine comprises case studies for example on the push and pull relations between villages and cities in Southern Africa, a missed opportunity for the dairy and meat market in Cameroon, and the untapped potential of small and medium-sized towns in Bolivia and Nepal.