Linking Indigenous Communities with Regional Development, mission to New York, USA

720641GAam2017On 16-17 April, Chris McDonald (OECD analyst on the Regional and Rural Policy team) had the opportunity to participate in the 17th meeting of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and participate in a side-event on the Linking Indigenous Communities with Regional Development Project (LICRD) with the Sami Parliament of Sweden. The Permanent Forum was established the key coordinating mechanism for matters related to Indigenous peoples. The 17th Permanent Forum focused on the theme of “Indigenous peoples’ collective rights to lands, territories, and resources”. Continue reading “Linking Indigenous Communities with Regional Development, mission to New York, USA”

OECD Mining Regions and Cities – mission to Alaska, USA

The regional and rural team is now implementing a project for regions and cities which are specialised in mining and extractive industries–this work emerged from an event held in October 2017 in Antofagasta. The project is guided by 3 objectives

  1. Provide a framework for the OECD, the mining industry, national and sub-national governments, and non-government organisations to cooperate on addressing shared challenges related to mining, extractive industries and regional development.
  2. Produce a series of publications that deliver regional specific recommendations and implementation support, and a global tool-kit (benchmarking and guidance, indicators and data, and best practices) to support the implementation of better regional development policies in a mining and extractives context across countries.
  3. Develop a global platform for mining regions and cities through events and peer-review that enable knowledge sharing, advocacy and dialogue between public/private sectors and local communities on better policies to enhance regional productivity and wellbeing.

Continue reading “OECD Mining Regions and Cities – mission to Alaska, USA”

How one Polish town delivers high quality of life and a competitive business climate—learning from Środa Wielkopolska

Image result for środa wielkopolska mapaThe town of Środa Wielkopolska in central Poland has had a remarkable turnaround. With poor infrastructure, a weak economy and high unemployment in the early 1990s, it’s now a place that delivers high quality of life for its residents and a competitive business climate. There’s a free public transport system that links surrounding rural areas to the town; all families have access to low-cost child care; attractive public spaces and bike lanes are a draw; businesses have grown and so has the population—from around 22 000 inhabitants in 2009 to 31 000 in 2016.

So what’s the secret? How has the town managed to delivery high quality of life and attract businesses—a standout among its peers? Continue reading “How one Polish town delivers high quality of life and a competitive business climate—learning from Środa Wielkopolska”

Technology, innovation and rural futures– The 11th OECD Rural Conference

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A machine component in a food processing plant in eastern Poland breaks down and is quickly fixed thanks to 3D printing of a new part…

A remote Canadian community in Newfoundland keeps the lights on with its decentralised energy system…

Thanks to remote diagnosis technologies, a resident of Okinawa, Japan gains quick piece of mind that their medical condition has stabilised…

These are some examples of how new and emerging technologies are changing rural lives. From innovations in transportation—like driverless cars—to the potential of robotics to help the elderly age in place in their communities, technologies are breaking down the barriers of distance and remoteness in new and exciting ways. The potentials are thrilling to imagine and they’ll test rural policies to adapt to changing circumstances and needs. The 11th OECD Rural Conference — Enhancing Rural Innovation — identified 10 key drivers of rural change that are likely to characterise the 21st century and shape how rural areas can succeed in a more complex, dynamic and challenging environment. Continue reading “Technology, innovation and rural futures– The 11th OECD Rural Conference”

Going digital—what’s next and what’s new

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Contrary to common expectations, the rural-urban digital divide in terms of basic Internet access the OECD is not large, with the exception of a few countries such as Mexico and Turkey. Reducing the urban-rural digital coverage gap has been a policy priority of many OECD countries in recent years, with many setting national targets to meet this objective. Many countries are now looking to enhance connectivity to other areas of economy and society that are “going digital.” For instance, Canada, the United Kingdom, and European Union refer to railways, highways and roads in their connectivity plans. Many feel vulnerable while travelling without any coverage and so expanding coverage to these areas also a matter of emergency and security on roads. Other areas where enhanced connectivity are important are  anchor institutions, such as schools and hospitals, which often require more intense capacity in terms of bandwidth and reliability, given the sensitivity of the activities performed (such as telemedicine) and the number of users serviced.

Going forward, rural users will have a more prominent role to play as data producers. A central question is how to match the evolving demand for digital services when people are no longer only consumers of data but also producers of data. Forthcoming work by the OECD’s Science and Technology Directorate provides an overview of some of the policy tools, technological trends, and good practices on this matter (including those that may emerge from pilot studies currently ran by digital companies such as Google and Facebook).  You can follow @OECDinnovation for updates.

For more information on this work please contact Lorrayne Porciuncula, Internet economist/policy analyst STI Lorrayne.PORCIUNCULA@oecd.org

Promoting rural economic diversification where small scale agriculture predominates

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While the majority of OECD countries have shed labour in agriculture through productivity gains, some countries continue to have a higher labour share in agriculture and low productivity. Such is the case in Poland where the agricultural sector is also the most labour intensive in the European Union. Agriculture as a share of total employment stands at 11% while its total value added to the economy stands at only 2.4% (2015). This is in part due to limited land consolidation and the dominance of small farms, as well as hidden unemployment in agriculture. While agriculture is a key economic activity for rural dwellers, it is not highly remunerative and farm households face high poverty rates. In 2016, approximately one in four farmers lived in relative poverty, and 11% of farmers lived in extreme poverty.

Tackling this issue is of high priority. But it presents a complex policy challenge related to such factors as the structure of social supports, connections, local labour markets and more fundamentally, ways of life—with many having a preference for small farm living. The Rural Policy Review of Poland (released March 2018) examines these issues and recommends a number of policy options to support economic diversification.  One of the many strengths that Poland has to draw on in meeting this challenge is its settlement structure, which includes a large number of small and medium sized cities. In almost all rural regions of Poland, at least half of the regional population can reach a regional centre with a population larger than 50 000 inhabitants in less than 45 minutes.  As such, rural urban linkages are one part of the broader solution.

For more information on this work please contact Tamara Krawchenko, Policy Analyst, on tamara.krawchenko@oecd.org

Rural urban partnerships for coordinated spatial development

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Rural-urban partnerships have been used by the OECD to identify ways in which urban and rural local governments are linked to each other and can develop co‑operation (see Rural Urban Partnerships, 2013). While some of the linkages take place through market exchanges, for example purchases of goods and services, a large share are not market-based relationships and have no price. These include but are not limited to the amenity benefits of rural scenery, congestion on roads caused by commuting, the ability of rural residents to access cultural services funded by urban residents, and scale economies that arise from combing demand from urban and rural customers. These unpriced linkages result in various combinations of externality effects, public goods and free-riding behavior (where people would be willing to pay if they had to but are able to avoid paying). The result is an inefficient production and allocation of the various services subject to these effects. That is, too much congestion, too few natural and cultural amenities or under-provision of goods and services, because demand was wrongly estimated. Importantly, these problems are almost always local in nature so there is little incentive for national or even regional/state governments to engage in their solution.

A recent study of the governance of land use in Prague highlights some of the fundamental challenges in structuring rural-urban partnerships. Prague’s Functional Urban Area spans 435 municipalities. Prague stands as the tenth most fragmented FUA in the OECD, with approximately 23 municipalities per 100 000 inhabitants. The interconnectedness of large and small municipalities across this urban system has obvious implications for spatial planning and land use – it raises the importance of a co-ordinated approach across the functional territory. Prague co-operates with the region of Central Bohemia as well as the municipalities in its FUA on transportation issues and there are a few nascent projects to pursue co-ordinated development in a few other areas as well. Still, there is no metropolitan governance body and there is no legal or regulatory mechanism to co-ordinate on spatial development. The right frameworks simply don’t exist at present to purpose meaningful longer term partnerships in order to tackle some of the most pressing issues—such as growing road congestion.

Incentives need to be in place to encourage ongoing partnership – and the national government has a critical role to play in this regard\. There are a range of options for how this could be structured. Read The Governance of Land Use in the Czech Republic: The Case of Prague to find out more.

For more information on this work please contact Tamara Krawchenko, Policy Analyst, on tamara.krawchenko@oecd.org