Territory and rural development: concepts, methods and approaches (literature review).


This document was developed as a working paper in a research project examining the interrelationships between policies and programmes for land access and emerging territorial approaches to rural development in land unequal countries. It explores the idea of territorial development in relation to other decentralised and local development approaches established in the latter part of the 20th Century.

The paper examines the ideas of territory itself and of territorial development as an emerging approach and charts the evolution of territorial approaches within changing perspectives on rural development and poverty reduction. These include centralised and donor driven Integrated Rural Development Programmes (IRDPs) of the 1970s and early 80s; the Sustainable Livelihoods (SL) approach developed in the 1990s, as well as the relevance to territorial perspectives of practical experiences in Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM), and, in the francophone tradition, of Gestion de Terroir. It goes on to consider briefly the importance of urban-rural linkages and change in development policy, and the development of Local Economic Development (LED) approaches which have primarily addressed the urban sector. The analysis compares and contrasts the generic features of a Rural Territorial Development (RTD) approach with earlier IRDP and SL approaches on the one hand, and with LED on the other. In section 4, the foregoing discussion of territorial approaches is illustrated by the European Union’s LEADER programme’s approach to strengthening territorial competitiveness in marginalised rural regions of Europe, and by a summary of FAO’s methodology of Participatory and Negotiated Territorial Development methodology. Section 5 discusses the conceptual development of territorial approaches and their uptake by development programmes in Latin America, focussing on Brazil, and reflecting on the significance of rural territorial perspectives in relation to issues of land access and agrarian reform. By way of conclusion the paper discusses the scope and opportunities for territorial approaches to stimulate developmental responses to regional inequalities and the differential spatial impacts that globalisation has on rural areas and rural poverty.


Land and Territory Research Paper No. 2, 50 pp.

Territory and rural development: concepts, methods and approaches (literature review).

Published 1 January 2005