Decisions by Topic: Rural Development
Commission on Sustainable Development
[Arabic] [Chinese] [English] [French] [Russian] [Spanish] 17th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development
E/CN.17/2009/19 - Rural development

7. The achievement of the Millennium Development Goals is at the centre of sustainable development. Sustainable rural development is vital to the economic, social and environmental viability of nations. It is essential for poverty eradication since global poverty is overwhelmingly rural. The manifestation of poverty goes beyond the urban-rural divide, it has subregional and regional contexts. It is therefore critical, and there is great value to be gained, by coordinating rural development initiatives that contribute to sustainable livelihoods through efforts at the global, regional, national and local levels, as appropriate. Strategies to deal with rural development should take into consideration the remoteness and potentials in rural areas and provide targeted differentiated approaches.

8. A healthy and dynamic agricultural sector is an important foundation of rural development, generating strong linkages to other economic sectors. Rural livelihoods are enhanced through effective participation of rural people and rural communities in the management of their own social, economic and environmental objectives by empowering people in rural areas, particularly women and youth, including through organizations such as local cooperatives and by applying the bottom-up approach. Close economic integration of rural areas with neighbouring urban areas and the creation of rural off-farm employment can narrow rural-urban disparities, expand opportunities and encourage the retention of skilled people, including youth, in rural areas. There is considerable potential for rural job creation not only in farming, agro processing and rural industry but also in building rural infrastructure, in the sustainable management of natural resources, waste and residues. Rural communities in developing countries are still faced with challenges related to access to basic services, economic opportunities and some degree of incoherence with regard to planning related to rural-urban divide. Investments in environmental protection, rural infrastructure and in rural health and education are critical to sustainable rural development and can enhance national well-being. Beyond meeting basic needs, investments must be linked to the potential to raise productivity and income. The vulnerabilities of the rural poor to the economic and financial crisis and to climate change and water shortage must be addressed. The success of sustainable rural development depends on, inter alia, developing and implementing comprehensive strategies for dealing with climate change, drought, desertification and natural disaster. Related actions include:

(a) Promoting poverty eradication in rural areas;
(b) Promoting pro-poor planning and budgeting at the national and local levels;
(c) Addressing basic needs and enhancing provision of and access to services as a precursor to improve livelihoods and as an enabling factor of people?s engagement in productive activities;
(d) Providing social protection programmes to benefit, inter alia, the vulnerable households, in particular the aged, persons with disabilities and unemployed many of whom are in rural areas. Actions are needed to:
(a) Build social capital and resilience in rural communities. In that context:
(i) Empower women and small-scale farmers, and indigenous peoples, including through securing equitable land tenure supported by appropriate legal frameworks;
(ii) Promote equitable access to land, water, financial resources and technologies by women, indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups;
(iii) Support and promote efforts to harmonize modern technologies with traditional and indigenous knowledge for sustainable rural development;
(iv) Provide access to credit and other mechanisms as well as resources for farm-based activities, especially for small-scale farmers, including women in particular, in developing countries to better manage the various risks they face, including price, weather, climate, water shortages, land degradation and natural disasters, including by providing aid and promoting the development of agricultural insurance markets;
(v) Protect and ensure sustainable use of traditional knowledge, including indigenous knowledge in accordance with article 8 (j) of the Convention on Biological Diversity, for the management of natural resources to address the challenges of sustainable development;
(vi) Facilitate the active participation of vulnerable groups, including women, youth and indigenous peoples and rural communities, in the elaboration of local and national planning of rural development, taking into account national legislation;
(vii) Build the resilience of rural communities to cope with and recover from natural disasters;
(viii) Promote and scale up labour-intensive recovery activities in addition to capital-intensive programmes;
(ix) Support training and capacity-building of rural communities to effectively implement adaptation programmes to climate change at the local level;
(x) Invest resources to enhance research aimed at adapting to the challenges of climate change;
(xi) Foster and strengthen capacities of rural communities for self-organization for building social capital, taking into account national legislation;
(b) Strengthen the human capacities of rural people. In that context:
(i) Strengthen rural health-care facilities and capacities, train and increase the number of health and nutrition professionals and sustain and expand access to primary health-care systems, including through promoting equitable and improved access to affordable and efficient health-care services, including provision of basic health-care services for the poor in rural areas, in particular in Africa, for effective disease prevention and treatment;
(ii) Create and develop educational programmes for rural communities aimed at disease prevention;
(iii) Eliminate old and new forms of illiteracy in rural communities and ensure provision of primary education and access to secondary and tertiary educational opportunities as well as vocational and entrepreneurship training including proactive and market-related elements to build capacities within rural communities, in particular for youth, young girls, women and indigenous people;
(iv) Encourage rural communities? participation in decision-making, promote rural communities? empowerment and rural leadership;
(v) Improve access by rural people and communities to information, education, extension services and learning resources, knowledge and training to support sustainable development planning and decision-making;
(c) Invest in essential infrastructure and services for rural communities. In that context:
(i) Increase public and private investments in infrastructure in rural areas, including roads, waterways and transport systems, storage and market facilities, livestock facilities, irrigation systems, affordable housing, water supply and sanitation services, electrification facilities, and information and communications networks;
(ii) Improve access to reliable and affordable energy services, including renewable and alternative sources of energy for sustainable rural development;
(iii) Enhance access of rural populations to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation;
(iv) Develop and improve access of rural populations to information and communications technologies, inter alia, to support Internet access and build capacities for an effective use of these technologies;
(v) Develop rural public and private services that realize the potential of those technologies, including cellular banking and e extension services;
(vi) Promote the development of rural organizations such as community-driven cooperatives to enhance investment in essential infrastructure and services, and recognize the role of urban areas in fostering rural development;
(vii) Support improved access for all to strengthened rural health-care services and facilities;
(d) Stimulate the creation of new jobs and income opportunities in rural areas. In that context:
(i) Support rural diversification, including on-farm diversification towards non-agricultural and other non-primary production activities;
(ii) Provide appropriate land-use frameworks in order to support the establishment of agricultural activities and both agricultural and non agricultural services related to sustainable rural development, while respecting the rights of rural communities and indigenous people;
(iii) Provide entrepreneurial training, credit and other support to off-farm and other non-primary production activities;
(iv) Strengthen the links between agriculture and other sectors of the rural economy;
(v) Develop sustainable ways to add value to agricultural products locally, subregionally and regionally to generate additional income;
(vi) Support the development, transfer and use of safe and environmentally sound construction technologies and practices, in particular for housing, to improve living standards and to create employment in rural areas;
(vii) Support as appropriate, sustainable tourism as a valuable source of employment and income supplement to farming and other primary production activities, as well as sustainable natural resource management;
(viii) Actively promote sustainable forest management;
(ix) Increase access of rural populations, particularly women, youth, indigenous people and other vulnerable groups, especially in disadvantaged areas, to markets as well as affordable financial and business advisory services, such as market literacy, microcredit, loan guarantees and venture capital;
(x) Expand access to markets by assisting rural producers, associations and firms, especially those from developing countries, to respond to market demand;
(xi) Increase employment opportunities through labour-intensive approaches including green jobs and development of rural infrastructure, taking into account the decent work agenda of the International Labour Organization as an important instrument to achieve the objective of full and productive employment and decent work for all;
(xii) Develop the necessary infrastructure and encourage data collection, including disaggregated population data, synthesis and analysis, to enhance the understanding of the contribution of non farming activities to poverty reduction and income generation in rural areas;
(xiii) Support the development of integration into market of smallholder family agriculture and sharing of experiences and best practices;
(xiv) Promote non-agricultural industries such as mining, service industries, construction and commerce, in a sustainable manner, as a source of employment and income for rural populations;
(e) Ensure environmental sustainability in rural areas. In that context:
(i) Encourage the use of land resources in a sustainable manner to prevent land degradation that is caused by unsustainable exploitation of land resources;
(ii) Encourage the use of environmentally friendly practices;
(iii) Promote sustainable natural resources use and management, including ecosystem conservation through community-based programmes;
(iv) Promote safe and environmentally sound waste management practices;
(f) Promote women?s empowerment and gender equality. In that context:
(i) Involve women in decision-making in all activities related to rural development;
(ii) Take measures that promote access to and ownership of means of production, including land, capital, entrepreneurship, by women;
(iii) Promote gender equality as well as take measures to achieve equal opportunities for women and men in all aspects of rural development;
(iv) Carry out extensive education, and awareness-raising on the rights of women and the concept of empowerment and gender equality in rural areas.

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