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Juli Choquet
Thursday 22 February 2018 Last update on Thursday, February 22, 2018 At 1:43 PM

A global economy, large-scale movements of people, goods and ideas, galloping urbanization, etc. In a changing world, what is the role of rural territories for the Mediterranean? At the Living Territories Conference 2018 held in Montpellier, France, many specialists discussed over those contemporary challenges.

The Living Territories International Conference 2018 organized by the CIRAD from the 22nd to the 24th January 2018, answered those questions, based on the results discussed in the book “Living territories to transform the world”. The CIRAD is the French agricultural research and international cooperation organization working for the sustainable development of tropical and Mediterranean regions.

What is the role of rural territories?

The question appeared clearly a development issue for the Mediterranean especially South Mediterranean countries appealing for a more supportive regional cooperation. 

An active debate held on the 22nd of January 2018.  Vincent Bonneaud © CIRAD, 2018.

Our increasingly globalized, uncertain world has raised interest in the term “territory”, a type of area within which new forms of governance and solidarity are constantly being invented. “Whether you’re in the Pennines, in the wide savannahs of Maasailand in eastern Africa, the high Andean mountain terraces of Peru and Bolivia, or amongst the stout white and red manor houses in the valleys and hills of Basque country in the Spanish Pyrenees, there’s a sense of pride in common identity and heritage”.

Camilla Toulmin from the University of Lancaster stresses in her foreword to the book “Living territories to transform the world”. “This strength of rural solidarity is not surprising since it is less than ten years ago that world population swung from being predominantly rural to urban.

How to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

Rural areas have seen a constant fall in population levels, yet almost half of the world’s people still live in them. They would even seem to be one of the keys to action in favour of sustainable development and to meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The way in which stakeholders in rural territories work together to successfully navigate this ever-changing world is truly enlightening“, Élodie Valette, a geographer at CIRAD who co-wrote the book “Living territories to transform the world”, published in 2017, explains. “Placing oneself on a local level serves to reveal ways of supporting global change, adapting to it, or limiting its effects”.

Agriculture : the world’s largest employer

The book, published in the “Agricultures et Défis du Monde”, coordinated by CIRAD and the AFD, the French Agency for the Development, shows how agriculture, the world’s largest employer, could contribute to the rebirth of rural territories such that they serve to ensure food and nutritional security and human and environmental health, help adapt to and anticipate climate disruption, support the energy transition and shared economic growth and decent jobs, reduce migratory tensions, and anticipate conflicts. 

Production: Caroline Dangléant and Vincent Bonneaud
Film and editing: Vincent Bonneaud © CIRAD, 2018

Think locally, act globally?

These three days of exchanges, focused on two topics: innovation, coordination and regulation; and territorial development and globalization: think locally, act globally?

We can note down the contribution from the following fellow partner :

– Sara Scherr, economist, President and CEO of EcoAgriculture Partners, Washington DC (USA);

– Saskia Sassen, sociologist, Robert S. Lynd Professor and member of the Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University (USA);

– Bruno Losch, lead political economist, CIRAD (South Africa);

– Martin Bwalya, representing the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (South Africa);

The debate covered a panel discussion, led by Patrick Caron, a CIRAD researcher who chairs the UN Committee for Food Security and Nutrition’s.

Discover out our latest videos about the economic news in the Mediterranean : 

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