Fostering Rural Urban Relationships to Enhance More Resilient and Just Communities
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Rural-urban relationships have been defined broadly as the reciprocal flows of people, goods, services, money, and environmental services that link rural, mountain, and remote areas to cities. Historically, urban-rural interdependency was under urban dominance and was conceived as a hierarchical system. New social, economic, and environmental situations require us to rethink rural-urban relationships as less asymmetrical: rural communities are no longer dependent on the economy of urban areas; they establish connections not only with their neighbours but also internationally. Relations are embedded in a network with a multitude of different actors at various levels (urban, periurban, and rural) and territories (OECD 2014). Thanks to this polycentric spatial structure, the dependency of rural areas on central cities has declined. Due to rural transformation and structural changes in the economy, there has been a “rural renaissance” for rural businesses and rural areas are at the core of sustainability transitions. Moreover, both rapid urbanization and (counter-) urbanization processes coexist which give rise to a new innovative businesses, cross-sectoral linkages, or new arrangements for sustainable food systems. Urban and rural areas are mutually dependent on each other for natural resources, raw materials, and finished products, as well as financial flows, social interaction, and transport links (e.g. the rural population commutes or migrates to urban areas for work or access to services, while the recreation of urban citizens occurs in rural areas). We observe similar lifestyles in both rural and urban areas. The relationship between urban and rural areas should now be understood in a broad sense, and not only as the relationships between urban areas and their hinterland or rural areas. Consequently, the rural and urban economies are interdependent, intertwined, and complementary.