About Regional & Rural Development

Regions are, simply, places: not large geopolitical imaginaries like countries, but tangible, on-the-ground places where people live and work. A region may have urban places, rural places, and wild places. It may have small towns and/or large cities. Its boundaries may not be exactly defined and these boundaries may look different depending on who you are. Typically we say that a region is bigger than a single town or city, but small enough to have something in common: a shared history, a common geography, some sense of identity as a regional community.

Rural regions are regions which are predominantly rural: that is, they have a low population density and fewer, smaller urban areas: localities and towns rather than large cities. The economy of rural regions is often based in primary production activities such as agriculture, fishing, and pastoralism. Contemporary rural economies may also include other activities such as tourism, services, cultural industries, and value-adding local produce. Some rural areas have strong manufacturing histories, but many have lost key industries over the years. Communities in rural regions often have close connections with the natural environment but tend to be distant from centres of economic and political power.

Development is the process of change, through which people try to improve things for themselves and/or for others. Development can aim to achieve different kinds of change: such as economic growth, social equity, modern technology, and/or environmental sustainability. While regional development activities often focus on economic growth, recent years have seen a shift to focus on sustainable regional development. Sustainable regional development seeks to create positive social, economic and environmental changes to benefit people in the region, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In rural regions, development is often about ensuring there are enough jobs, services, infrastructure, institutions, resources, and healthy natural environments for everyone to be able to live well.

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