Sustainable and resilient ruralities

Authored by: Guy M. Robinson

The Routledge Companion to Rural Planning

Print publication date:  January  2019
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138104051
eBook ISBN: 9781315102375
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter considers the role of rural spaces in the broader achievement of sustainable development and the particular challenges they face as they seek greater resilience to economic uncertainty and environmental risk. It addresses inherent contradictions in the pursuit of sustainable development, examining responses to key policies affecting economic and social development in rural areas, especially under the prevailing neo-liberal economic management in Western countries. Examples include Rural Development Regulation in the European Union and Farm Bills in the United States, with a focus on attempts to produce ‘sustainable agriculture’. Links between sustainability and resilience are then developed, first by considering how notions of the latter have been portrayed for socio-ecological systems and rural communities, and second, by analysing measures introduced to foster resilience in ‘multi-functional ruralities’, for example where agricultural systems create employment, a more stable food supply, environmental benefits and contribute to increased social, cultural and institutional capital. Examples include reference to resource-dependent rural communities, which may be resilient in the face of economic or environmental crises. The discussion embraces a global dimension by linking resilience and sustainability to specific challenges affecting rural areas worldwide, notably measures to ensure greater food security, protecting prime agricultural land from urban sprawl, and balancing demands of food production against environmental concerns.

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