Publication [ID: 28]

Exploring territorial inequalities and their importance for rural areas

One of the key outcomes of the conference was the broad agreement amongst all participants that territorial inequality is real, large and will have to be addressed, if sustainable development should be achieved. Market mechanisms are supposed to spread the overall national economic growth in developing countries across all territories in the long run. Experiences in OECD countries and recent emerging donors seem to be confirming this view. However, there is also evidence that territorial inequality has sharpened in many of the transition countries and they experience rather a process of territorial polarisation. Such development slows down the overall economic development of the country and causes other conflicts and further sharpening of inequalities.

Nevertheless, the participants agreed that however deep the inequalities are rooted, there are numerous examples of significant public policies that promote territorial development and reduce inequalities. All shared experiences with successful policy programs recognised the difference in social, economic and environmental context of the territories they want to address. Furthermore all of these development initiatives worked towards ensuring the participation and ownership of the local population. Participants also agreed that initiatives need to be multi-actor, multi-sectoral, involving multi-level of governance, focus on functional territories, where changes will most affect the populations to have the greatest impact and any intervention also needs to the planned strategically and transformative. The experts also agreed that cities and rural-urban linkages will play important role in supporting the transformative process towards territorial equality and convergence.

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