Future of rural areas

Excerpt from Reports on Agriculture, special edition 217

Articles of the conference series "Future of rural areas" hosted by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.


Globalisation, demographic developments and the outmigration of young and qualified people pose huge challenges for rural areas. The Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) considers it important to open up new prospects for rural regions in the face of the existing challenges. New concepts and instruments are required to ensure a sustainable development of rural areas. Drawing up new concepts will prove most successful in a dialogue with the stakeholders and decision-makers. The BMELV therefore conducted a series of conferences in 2006 – 2008 on the subject "Future of rural areas", this series gave rise to a comprehensive exchange of views.

On 5 October 2006, Federal Minister HORST SEEHOFER opened the conference series by holding the federal conference "Impending decline or growing attractiveness: the future of rural areas". Three regional conferences had subsequently been held in 2007. The first conference took place in Münster on 22 February 2007 and addressed the issue of the economy in rural areas. On 24 May 2007, the conference participants discussed the importance of the infrastructure for the further development of rural areas in Magdeburg. The third conference was held in Cham on 26 June 2007 and was devoted to the subject "New concepts of rural development: examples of good practice" and focused on the importance of regional strategies for rural development.

The Future Forum on Rural Development brought the series of conferences to a close. This Forum was hosted by the BMELV within the scope of the International Green Week (IGW) on 22 and 23 January 2008. The Future Forum was divided into a panel discussion, involving representatives from the industry, agriculture, regional development, municipalities and the church as well as the actors in rural areas, and twelve lecture events and open discussions. Due to the extraordinarily positive response to the events hosted within the framework of the BMELV conference series, the Future Forum will from now on feature regularly on the IGW agenda. This will provide the subject "Rural Development" with a regular and broad-based platform. The BMELV wishes to continue the dialogue with stakeholders and decision-makers to continue to receive interesting impetus for the further development of the policy for rural areas in the future, too.

The exchange of views among regional actors, administration, scientific community, agriculture and associations at the technical fora turned out to be extremely constructive. The debate between high-level experts at the panel discussion met with great interest.

The BMELV has succeeded in turning public attention and the political focus to rural regions once again. The BMELV policy is geared to preserving and developing rural areas as places to live in and work and as areas of unspoiled nature, whilst ensuring equal living conditions, with due regard to the different potential of rural areas for development. We must maintain the policy of mutual supportiveness among all stakeholders in the shaping of the future of rural areas. The BMELV wagers on a continuation of the dialogue with stakeholders and all those concerned. It became clear during the series of events that there is still a great need for discussion on the subject of rural development. The BMELV wants to keep public discussion focussed on this subject. In doing so, the attention should not only be directed towards agricultural topics, but also towards aspects of social, family and economic policies, and aspects related to demography and culture.

This conference documentation contains a selection of presentations from all five conferences and thus mirrors a broad range of topics. It contains articles from the following fields: economy, growth and employment, agriculture, basic public services, infrastructure, support concepts, concepts for integrated rural development and describes the importance of regional strategies for rural development on the basis of concrete examples.

Dr. JÖRG WENDISCH, Head of the Directorate-General for Rural Areas, Plant Production, Forestry and Forest-based industries at the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.

Table of contents of the published articles

  • The future of rural areas by HORST SEEHOFER, Berlin
  • The role of Good Governance in the policy for rural areas by HOLGER MAGEL and SILKE FRANKE, Munich
  • Growth and employment – What is the role played by rural areas? by ULRIKE GRABSKI-KIERON, Münster
  • Prospects for agriculture by ALOIS HEISSENHUBER, Munich/Weihenstephan
  • Infrastructure in rural areas – Evaluation of the project "Region in dialogue" in Rhineland-Palatinate by AXEL LORIG, Mainz
  • Strategies to ensure basic public services nationwide for the population by HANS-PETER GATZWEILER and THOMAS PÜTZ, Bonn
  • Change in strategy to promote rural areas: Necessary, tried and tested but obstructed in political terms by GÜNTER KROËS and SEBASTIAN ELBE, Münster
  • Mutual assistance instead of conflict: The route taken by the rural district of Neumarkt by ALBERT LÖHNER, Neumarkt i. d. Opf.
  • What project work in rural areas needs – taking the project "Rural ways of life" in Saxony-Anhalt as an example by PETER-GEORG ALBRECHT, Magdeburg
  • EAFRD and the different value added by the LEADER concept in Germany by ULF HAHNE, Kassel
  • Implementation of the Leader focus taking Bavaria as an example by JOSEPH KÖPFER, Munich
  • Natura 2000 as an opportunity for rural areas – seven success factors by WOLFRAM GÜTHLER, Ansbach
  • Regional value-adding partnerships – Experiences from the Federal Government programme "ACTIVE REGIONS" by DIRK SCHUBERT, Bonn
  • Efficiency of government-funded regional redevelopment procedures – Evaluation of regional redevelopment taking case studies from Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate as an example by ANDREA KRAMP and OTMAR SEIBERT, Weidenbach-Triesdorf
  • Using controlling systems in land reorganisation for the federal state administration of Rhineland-Palatinate by AXEL LORIG, Mainz
  • Information superhighway in the countryside – Broadband Initiative for Rural Areas Baden-Württemberg by HEINER SCHEFFOLD, Stuttgart
  • Strategy for medical care and education in rural areas by STEFAN POST, Simmern
  • Prospects for public mobility services in rural areas – A new mobility culture is in strong demand! Experiences from the federal state of Brandenburg by SILKE SCHMIDTMANN, Berlin
  • Strategies for adjustment to preserve the quality of life and comprehensive basic public services in peripheral rural areas of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania by CLAUDIA NEU, Rostock
  • DORV-Centre (Community-based Services and Total Care" in Jülich-Barmen - Perfect community-based total care by HEINZ FREY, Jülich-Barmen
  • Future of rural areas: Prospects and options for action by CARSTEN Hansen, Berlin
  • Maze of rural development? Replies by the scientific community by PETER WEINGARTEN, Braunschweig
  • Innovative regional management for structurally weak rural regions in South-East Europe - A cooperative project of GTZ and InWEnt by T. WEHINGER, Tübingen, U. KRAPPITZ, Neumarkt i. d. OPf., J. ADLER, Rackwitz and D. BÖTTCHER, Eschborn
  • Regarding the Role of the Working Group for Rural Areas in Policy Advice by HOLGER MAGEL, Munich
  • Regarding the Role of the Working Group for Rural Areas in Information and Communication by GERHARD FAIX, Schwäbisch Gmünd
  • Regarding the Role of the Working Group for Rural Areas in Project Monitoring by RÜDIGER VON PLÜSKOW, Kiel

The special edition 217 of the Agricultural Reports "Future of Rural Areas" was published by the Kohlhammer publishing house, D-70549 Stuttgart (postal box) in September 2008. Email: landwirtschaft@kohlhammer.de; ISSN0005-9080.

Please note: The articles of the conference series "Future of rural areas" published in the special edition 217 are only available in German.

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