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OECD Rural Team

Introducing the OECD rural team

Welcome to the first edition of Rural Focus - our new bi-annual newsletter that will keep you updated on rural issues and research from the OECD

It’s an exciting time for rural policy. Addressing rural constituencies is at the top of many national policy agendas as the growing inequality between regions within countries has led to a divide in terms of access to employment and services.

The widening productivity gap within regions across the OECD was the topic of the 2016 Regional Outlook, which also provided a special focus on rural areas and unveiled an update rural policy framework - the Rural Policy 3.0. Rural Policy 3.0 reflects emerging policy approaches for rural development in OECD countries.

Many countries are still facing the pressures of fiscal consolidation which require them to maximise public investment and resources, while at the same time, mitigate inequality and attain inclusive growth. Furthermore, better understanding people’s wellbeing and its multiple dimensions - economic, social and environmental - has come to the forefront of policy debates. We look forward to continuing to help countries address medium and long-term challenges in rural areas.

In this issue you will find articles about the history of our work on rural development and a description of current and ongoing projects. 


Enrique Garcilazo
Head of Rural Policy Unit

Photo above: The rural team (left to right) - Enrique Garcilazo, Stefano Marta, Elodie de Oliviera, Tamara Krawchenko, Emiko Araki; Guillaume Lecaros de Cossio

– OECD work on Rural Development...

Rural development at the OECD: a brief history and overview

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has been engaged in rural development work for almost forty years. Indeed, the OECD’s interest in rural development pre-dates our work on urban policy! The work has evolved over time to develop a coherent framework of rural development.

OECD work on rural development in the 1980s was essentially a scoping exercise to understand how member countries were approaching rural development issues. This work helped build a modern rural policy framework which many of you would recognise today. In 1991 the Group of the Council on Rural Development was created and shortly after, in 1999, the Territorial Development Policy Committee (now Regional Development Policy Committee) was established with working parties on urban and rural policies, and territorial indicators.

Since the early 2000s the work has largely reflected the interests of the countries that have been active in the RDPC at a particular time. The "bread and butter" of the OECD rural work programme has been:

  • 13 National Rural Policy Reviews (focusing on a diagnosis of rural development issues, and the role of national governments in addressing them)
  • Territorial Reviews involving 33 countries and regions which have a rural focus or component (including a macroeconomic and regional diagnosis, assessment of key policies and multi-level governance issues)
  • Thematic reviews to develop a common pool of knowledge about factors contributing to growth and policies to enhance rural growth potential. These include studies on promoting growth in all regions, renewable energy, urban-rural linkages, innovation and modernising the rural economy, food security and land use.

We continue to build on this history and look forward to working with our member and partner countries to build shared knowledge about how to improve the prosperity and wellbeing of rural places.

– Promoting Growth in all Regions (2012)
– Linking Renewable Energy to Rural Development (2012)
– Rural-Urban Partnerships: An Integrated Approach to Economic Development (2013)
– Innovation and Modernising the Rural Economy (2015)
– Adopting a Territorial Approach to Food Security and Nutrition Policy (2016)
– Governance of Land Use

Recent works

Cover: Northern Sparsely Populated Areas

Promoting growth in rural remote economies: the launch of the Territorial Review of the Northern Sparsely Populated Areas (NSPA)

Sparsely populated areas face unique challenges. Lower population density and long distances between communities can make it more difficult and costly to provide infrastructure and services. The economies of sparsely populated areas are also unique and have great potential. Low density isn’t an impediment to well-being and productivity. 

The OECD’s recent review of the NSPAs examined these and other issues and provided an opportunity to share policy learning. The review involved 14 regions across the northern areas of Norway, Finland and Sweden. The NSPA review was launched March 13th 2017 at the Committee for Regions

The  review finds that these regions are of increasing economic and geopolitical importance to Norway, Finland and Sweden, and the Europe Union (e.g. supply of food, energy, adapting to climate change, and relations with Russia). Although these regions face challenges associated with demographic change, distance and low population densities, they have significant growth potential on issues such as renewable energy, mining, aquaculture, and tourism. Low distance and low densities are not an impediment to competitiveness with the right policy settings, particularly through identifying areas of absolute advantage, facilitating value-adding to them, and increasing access to international markets. This report can provide lessons for other countries and regions facing similar challenges (e.g. Australia, Canada, and Chile).

Contact: [email protected]

– OECD Territorial Reviews: Northern Sparsely Populated Areas

Cover: Governance of Land Use

The governance of land use in the OECD and rural-urban partnerships

In many metropoltan areas across  the OECD it is the urban fringe - the space between rural and urban - where there has been the greatest development pressure and conflict over land uses. The governance of this space is critical in order to arrive at collaborative solutions and yet, such governance mechanisms are often either non-existent or underdeveloped. In EU countries, Integrated Territorial Assessments have created a real incentive to adopt collaborative approaches between rural and urban areas.

In other places - such as France and the Scheme de Coherence Territoriale - national planning law has imposed the need to jointly develop a spatial strategy across both cities and communities. This work has allowed for an in depth look at these mechanisms and has in turn offered policy recommendations on how to improve rural-urban partnerships.

On 2 May we launched a two-volume report that combines findings from both the case studies that we’ve conducted to date as well as data on  land use trends and planning systems of all OECD countries. The Governance of Land Use in OECD Countries was launched together with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. We have also conducted in-depth case studies of cities and commuting areas, including rural communities, in five countries: Clermont-Ferrand and Nantes-Saint Nazaire in France; Netanya and Umm al Fahm in Israel; Amsterdam in The Netherlands; Lodz in Poland and Prague in the Czech Republic. Each case study has uncovered unique issues and dynamics -  e.g., the need to balance demands for residential expansion with environmental protection in Nantes-Saint Nazaire.

Contact: [email protected] or [email protected]

– Land-use Planning Systems in the OECD: Country Fact Sheets
– Governance of Land Use in Poland
– The Governance of Land Use in France: Case studies of Clermont-Ferrand and Nantes Saint-Nazaire
– The Governance of Land Use in the Netherlands: The Case of Amsterdam
– Watch the video on Land Use
– Land Use overview

Current and upcoming projects

Better linking indigenous communities with regional development

Indigenous peoples matter to regional economic performance and well-being for one-third of the OECD members, and regional development strategies need to be more inclusive of them. Indigenous peoples may have rights over the use of land and water resources which are important to the comparative advantage of regional economies. The effectiveness of development policies can be improved when the traditional customs and values of indigenous peoples are incorporated into decision making. We are currently developing a project which aims to deliver policy recommendations for national governments to improve economic outcomes for indigenous people by better linking them with regional development efforts.

Contact: [email protected]

Adopting a holistic approach to rural policy in Poland

Rural policy is important for Poland. Approximately one third of Poland’s population lives in predominantly rural regions (by OECD definition) and rural regions contribute about one-quarter of the total GDP. While the economy shows a very strong performance as a whole, some rural regions have low income levels and fail to catch up to the average rural GDP per capita level, while others register relatively high incomes and are growing strongly. Over time, there is a risk that the gap between successful and lagging rural regions will increase. This points to the importance of place-based policies for rural development.

The OECD Rural Policy Review of Poland is focused on providing holistic approaches to rural development. It looks at how policies can better support development opportunities in rural areas. Poland's rural areas differ considerably - from the small farms dotting Malopolsie in southern Poland to Zachodniopomorskie on the Baltic Sea, historic Wielkopolskie in the northwest and Podlaskie in the east. On the study missions we’ve encountered dynamic and growing rural communities that, together with strong leadership and a vision of the future, are providing their residents with a good quality of life.

In April, together with the Polish Ministry of Economic Development we held a seminar on “Linking rural definitions and policy for co-ordinated rural development” (7 April 2017, Warsaw) which explored how different rural definitions have been used to structure policy responses and also how they have combined EU policies for co-ordinated approaches to rural development. We plan to discussthe Review at the December 2017 meeting of the meeting of the Working Party on Rural Policy.

Contact: [email protected]

– Read the proceedings on "Linking rural definitions and policy for coordinated rural development"

Morelos launch

Mobilising assets for inclusive and sustainable growth in the state of Morelos

Morelos has a small but relatively diversified economy, which has performed below potential with sluggish productivity growth over the last decade constraining opportunities for inclusive growth. The region has been hindered by low skill levels, informality and insecurity. In spite of those challenges, the state of Morelos is committed to driving change. It is the first region in Mexico that established a Council for Human Capital with the aim to strengthen skills acquisition, but also fundamentally develop strategic foresight on what may be economic opportunities to build upon and the importance of human capital in relation to those, with the core objective to develop more inclusive growth in the region. Among others, the Council will seek to better match supply to demand, boost innovation and entrepreneurial activities, and strengthen networks to support firms’ transition into higher value-added activities.

Getting policies right across several dimensions of people’s lives will be crucial to improve regional well-being. The Territorial Review of Morelos examines the economic, social and environmental challenges facing the state of Morelos, as well as the state’s potential for greater development. The state of Morelos has many cards in its hands but needs to play them right. The Review highlights how Morelos and the new Council for Human Capital should build a coherent and integrated framework for human capital.

The Territorial Review of Morelos was launched on 21 June 2017 in Cuernavaca, Morelos, by Gabriela Ramos, OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20.

Contact Elodie de Oliveira, [email protected]

– Read the report...

Monitoring Review of Morelos

Following the launch of the OECD 2017 Territorial Review of Morelos in June 2017, the OECD will embark on a follow-up implementation and monitoring project with the state of Morelos.

Contact: [email protected]

Monitoring Review of Smaland Blekinge

In 2012 the OECD conducted a Territorial Review of Småland-Blekinge - a region south-eastern Sweden comprising Jönköping,  Kronoberg, Kalmar and Blekinge counties. At the time, the review pointed to the need to shift towards more knowledge-intensive activities and, in support of this aim, to promote human capital development, improve connectivity and enhance the attractiveness of the region. We are very pleased to be invited back to the region to conduct a Monitoring Review.

Contact:  [email protected]  

Rural-Urban linkages in Morocco

The OECD is currently undertaking an analysis of rural-urban linkages in Morocco within the framework of the Policy Dialogue with regions and cities of Morocco. The results of the analysis, workshops and interviews in the country are being consolidated in a final OECD report to be finalised in June 2017.  

Contact: [email protected]

Recent events with OECD participation

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