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Rethinking the links between farm modernisation, rural development and resilience in a world of increasing demands and finite resources

A transdisciplinary research project supported by the European Commission and funding bodies in 14 countries under the umbrella of FP7 and the RURAGRI ERA-NET

How do market forces, societal demands and resource constraints interact to create opportunities and constraints for agriculture and rural areas across Europe? Where are the links between farm modernisation, rural development and resilience and how can we shape positively? And, how can we develop the relationships between rural areas and urban centres in ways that increases overall resilience?

In addressing these questions the RETHINK project also explores the meaning of agricultural modernisation. It does so at a time of potentially profound change - when the agricultural sector must finally respond to increasing resource scarcity and distributional demands, and when economies, production systems and lifestyles must be transformed. RETHINK explores the connections between the development of agriculture and the wider societal and policy goal of vibrant and prosperous rural areas, explicitly recognizing the complexity of the challenges, the diversity in situations, and the multidimensionality of strategies for a more balanced development.

The analyses to be carried out are based on a set of common research questions. These have been used to select 14 major case studies, one in each participating country. The case studies will improve our understanding of the many factors that contribute to rural prosperity and resilience. Each case is an expression of an innovative development trajectory, highlighting potential synergies between farm modernisation and sustainable rural development.

A joint analytical framework will ensure the comparability of case study analyses and allow for recommendations to be made at a European level.