The Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, upon invitation of the Italian Agency for International Development, organised a Round Table on rural transformation. In preparation of the event and as part of the objectives agreed by the workstream on rural transformation assembled by the members of the Platform, the secretariat with the support of GIZ sector project on rural development summarised a short background paper on the drivers, action points and implications of rural transformation. The key messages of the background paper are summarised as follows: rural transformation is defined as a process of change in rural areas, which depends on many factors and dynamics; the challenges and opportunities of rural transformation derive from rural-urban linkages and depend on many sectors inside and outside of agriculture; the complexity of rural transformation calls for multi-layered governance, and the addressing of rural transformation processes demands new forms of technical and financial assistance.
The participants of the round table agreed that the world is changing at an unprecedented speed, creating new challenges and opportunities for rural areas. And although the share of agricultural sector to overall GDP is declining, this fact does not mean reduction in the importance of agriculture. Rather the sector remains the main driver of rural economy and has value added to different other sectors of the economy. Furthermore the participants agreed, that the fast process of transformation does not lead necessarily to fast poverty reduction. IFAD’s last Rural development report presented evidence, that the direction of the process depends on political interventions and policy strategies – national and international and the transformational success depends on the political leadership and commitment in the country. But leadership will also need to face one of the main challenges remaining namely the need to develop better indication of inclusion and equity, in order to measure the speed, direction and possibly success of the process of rural transformation. Additionally the present donor representatives agreed that the agricultural sector is linking most of the SDGs, directly and indirectly, and this way contributing most to the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.
To leverage the unique characteristics of the agricultural sector in the transformational processes ongoing in rural areas, the participants moved on to identify key cross cutting issues that will help guide them in their activities and will contribute to forming a new vision of rural areas. One of the first topics that were raised by the members of the Platform was the need to address key political economy issues. Addressing the rural transformational process will require great amount of knowledge of the national, regional and local conditions, but it will also require from the donors to identify their own comparative advantages. Focusing on own strengths, experience and on the exchange of knowledge will crystallise the best leverage points of intervention. Identifying gaps in terms of policy coherence, of international enabling environment was again reiterated as the biggest value added of the Global Donor Platform for Rural development and the continuous strive of the Platform to align activities in cross cutting issues such as climate change, nutrition, gender and migration was welcomed.