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.



Why is a new rural development paradigm needed?

OECD Development Centre

Despite six decades of attention to rural development, culminating in the Millennium Development Goals process of the 21st century, rural people in the developing world still struggle compared to their urban counterparts. This chapter reviews the shifting theories and approaches to the subject over the years, from rural areas being treated as “backwaters” in need of modernisation, to more nuanced approaches valuing rural knowledge and promoting local participation in policy making. The limited success of the old approaches, and changing international development contexts, call for a new rural development paradigm that takes advantage of the diverse and innovative roles rural areas can play while integrating specific economic, social and ecological concerns. A new paradigm for rural development will be crucial for achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals, which will strongly influence development practices in the 21st century.


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