Urban-Rural Development

Urban-Rural Development

Introduction

The last decades of urbanisation globally have led to several trends related to spatial planning today, such as urban growth, densification, uncontrolled sprawl and an on-going discussion about urban-rural interaction. The current discourse on sustainable urban development in the Baltic Sea Region and Europe concerns to a great extent densification of urban populations. Additionally, the densification doctrine has also contributed to the focus given to cities and other highly agglomerated areas in the sustainable development discourse. Thus, the sustainable society is being studied mainly from an urban point of view - sustainable cities, eco-cities, sustainable urban development - a perspective which is often separated from discussions about development in rural areas, farmlands and forests. Planning for urban-rural interactions has not been in focus for half a century. Thus, cities are supported with food, natural resources and energy mainly from the global market rather than from the immediate surroundings. However, environmental crises, global change and resource crises claim a new era on how to organise and plan for urban and rural interactions. The development of regional- and local flows and systems, so called (re-) localisation processes concerning for instance energy and food, is a topical issue in planning of today, as well as the development of strong local communities and sustainable lifestyles. Though the number of urban districts with sustainability ambitions is growing worldwide, it is not clear to what extent such areas actually achieve environmental and resource efficiency. Indeed, academic literature is still inconclusive about how far technological and architectural measures can take us towards global sustainable development. Recently scholars have stressed the importance of human behavioral patterns in reaching sustainability. Investigating the relative importance of, and the relation between, urban lifestyles vis-a-vis the built environment therefore is crucial for planning for sustainability. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development stress these issues as well as the BALTIC 2030: An Action Plan for the Baltic Sea Region. Scholars at universities and practicians in authorities and business have a great responsibility when it comes to realization and implementation of current global, regional and local policy.