A New Rural Development Paradigm for the 21st Century

A Toolkit for Developing Countries

image of A New Rural Development Paradigm for the 21st Century

Three billion people live in rural areas in developing countries. Conditions for them are worse than for their urban counterparts when measured by almost any development indicator, from extreme poverty, to child mortality and access to electricity and sanitation. And the gulf is widening, contributing to large-scale migration to urban areas. This situation exists despite half a century of rural development theories and approaches, and despite the global momentum built around the Millennium Development Goals between 2000 and 2015. Without greater progress on rural development, it is unlikely that the new Sustainable Development Goals will be met. This book calls for a new paradigm for rural development that is equipped to meet the challenges and harness the opportunities of the 21st century – including climate change, demographic shifts, international competition and fast-moving technological change.



Lessons from rural development in OECD countries

OECD Development Centre

Despite the different challenges facing rural areas in developing countries, the experience of rural development in OECD countries has some relevant lessons to impart. This chapter outlines the evolution of rural areas in OECD countries. The transformation of OECD economies over the last few decades has resulted in a declining and ageing rural population and lower share of agriculture in gross domestic product (GDP). While cities are the main source of economic growth in OECD countries, however, a large rural population can coincide with a high GDP per capita. A new paradigm for rural development in OECD countries, in existence since 2006, sees rural areas in a new, more positive light: rather than being treated as lagging regions that need propping up with subsidies, it views them as sources of untapped potential that can contribute to national growth, with the right policies and investment. This requires local-level governance autonomy and capacity, and cohesion and co-ordination across multiple levels of government.


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