Towards a holistic strategy on sustainable rural & urban development

Scope and objectives

The Section for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment (NAT) of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) will hold a thematic debate on the importance of a holistic strategy for the sustainable development of rural and urban areas.

The event will bring together representatives of European institutions, the academic world and other civil society organisations to engage in a conversation with NAT Section Members.

Speakers will discuss:

  • why it is worth considering rural and urban development together to achieve sustainability and prosperity;
  • how to overcome the challenges of balanced territorial development and which opportunities are emerging; 
  • how can the EU institutions concretely contribute to the development of a sustainable and holistic territorial approach for rural and urban areas.

► This event will be webstreamed and interpreted into EN, FR and DE. No registration is required. Viewers will have the opportunity to engage in the debate using the platform Slido, with the code #NATSection.


Today's demographic growth is concentrated in cities, but rural areas are still:

  • home to 55% of the EU population,
  • produce 45% of its gross added value, and
  • generate 50% of its jobs.

Yet, they have featured less and less on the political agenda in recent years while large‑scale projects and funding programmes have readily been targeted at towns and cities.

However, rural areas play a critical role in:

  • economic and social cohesion,
  • regions' resilience,
  • the contribution of countless services from various local ecosystems, including food production.

The damage caused by having swathes of deserted countryside in Europe is not just economic but also cultural.

Policy-makers must therefore ensure that no areas are "left behind" in the transition to a climate-neutral, sustainable and prosperous European Union, in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal, the Next Generation EU recovery package, the Territorial Agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

All areas must instead be put at the heart of strategies to achieve and to localise the Agenda 2030 and a specific focus should be given on the interactions and co-development of rural and urban areas. Local civil society and business actors as well as citizens need also to be engaged to:

  • unlock the immense potential of rural and urban communities and
  • foster their sustainable development.
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