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Equalize urban-rural gap

What's the problem?

  • The fundamental question is how landscapes should be used in the future. The approach of integration ("land sharing") and separation ("land sparing") of managed and protected landscape areas are opposed to each other. The same can also be asked for social life - the current rural migration carries the danger that vital social tasks such as food production and energy generation will be left to international corporations.
  • The concentration of vital infrastructure relevant for social participation (medical care, jobs, educational facilities, child care, nursing facilities, data infrastructure, cultural offerings) is less available in rural areas than in urban areas. Rural communities and rural jobs, including in agriculture, are therefore less attractive. A progressing decline of the population in rural regions is the consequence.
  • Clammy communities are either expanding their industrial areas or - depending on the region - allocating building land and thus encouraging urban sprawl. High land consumption and sealing levels inhibit important soil functions and urban sprawl leads to a weaker utilization of infrastructure.
  • Especially regions dominated by a certain industry or company are paralyzed by the limited possibilities of jobs in the sustainable development.
  • lack of opportunities for public mobility in rural regions is often compensated by individual transport (and incentives for this such as the commuter allowance) or leads to further migration from poorly connected regions
  • Decline of retail trade and local family businesses in rural areas due to competition; instead: often the only supply possibilities are  chains such as Lidl etc., which represent dreary and hostile village centres
  • especially (well educated) younger people leave rural areas, demographic effects increase the pressure on rural communities
  • Changes in the social structure, such as the decline in opportunities for care and encounters in rural areas offer a breeding ground for political mobilisation of right-wing forces, particularly in eastern Germany
  • The Federal Statistical Office expects the whole German population to decline by twelve million people by 2050 - with rural regions particularly affected. Overall, the question is whether cities will lose their attractiveness, due to the amount of people moving there. An expansion of the rural infrastructure could also have a positive impact on urban housing problems and the congestion of public transport and care systems.
  • Increased migration to cities increases competition in the labour and housing markets, displacing population groups with lower incomes / that are declared unproductive
  • the centralisation of people and processes in cities leads to an increasing dependence on industrial mass production and unecological/unjust global supply chains
  • As a result of rural migration and land grabbing by large corporations, food is being produced industrially on ever larger areas. Soil erosion and agro-ecological desertification as well as groundwater pollution through nitrate leaching with simultaneous withdrawal of nutrients are the result.
  • Segregation (Exclusion of minority groups) both within cities and between city and countryside is the result


What's the measure?

  • Decentralisation and municipalisation of production and consumption
  • Closing regional cycles
  • counteract urban-rural disparities
  • Universities in rural areas can act as mediators for the solution of regional and local problems (e.g. education, urban planning, transport, health, sustainable development, economy).


How can the implementation look like?

  • Development of free public climate-friendly transport networks (e.g. promotion of municipal e-car sharing projects) within and between rural communities, as well as connections to cities
  • low-cost housing through the renovation of vacant buildings (subsidised letting of vacancies by municipalities), promotion of multi-generation projects and innovative housing solutions
  • promote the use of renewable resources from the region (e.g. use of wood in construction projects)
  • With regard to the constant sealing1, a closed-loop economy for areas is a good option, which includes conversion and recycling. Regarding the tight public finances, cost-benefit analyses must become matters of course, taking into account the foreseeable population development. New or modified economic instruments are required (for example, in municipal financial equalisation, in real estate tax law and building land tax law, through tradable land certificates), unsealing concepts and renaturation concepts, management of brownfields, traffic calming and much more. Instruments that are contrary to land protection must be abolished.
  • Establishment/expansion of supply/encounter structures in rural areas
  • Promotion of retail trade and small organic farms (in Austria, for example, they are currently discussing a local supply premium to support the development of the town centre)
  • Expansion of "green care" services
  • Strengthening innovative marketing structures and solidarity-based agricultural concepts
  • financial support of regional production/consumption
  • Incentives for local business creation: cycle-based, cooperative, public interest
  • Establishment of local grassroots democratic bodies/councils that (co)decide on local production/composition/structure building


How will this counteract climate change?

  • Decentralization and localization counteracts numerous climate-damaging processes
  • Mass production of food and consumer goods will be dammed up, transport routes will be shortened, democratisation and localisation of production will probably reduce the use of climate-damaging and health-endangering substances and agents
  • Expansion of public transport facilities and the creation of jobs, structures, etc. locally, reduce pollutant emissions: distances become shorter, less individual traffic, etc.

What other effects does the measure have?

  • counteracts segregation of population groups
  • promotes the development of local communities, instead of increasing urban anonymity or rural isolation
  • Connection, social participation and involvement in local decision-making processes promote a democratic awareness of solidarity
  • ecologically sensible reuse of materials


Further literature and sources



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