Urbanization processes shape large areas of the world, while the revitalization of rural regions has been neglected for a long time. Nevertheless, cities and villages are indispensable for the sustainable development of mankind. With the advent of ecological civilization, people began to re-examine the significance of villages and appreciate more idyllic scenery, poetic landscapes, vernacular culture, and folk customs. As a result, a laid-back country life where people live in harmony with nature catches on. The new era arrives with a new mandate, i.e. to accelerate rural revitalization and allow villages and cities to share the achievements of modern civilization in sync, which not only relieves “big city urban diseases” to a certain extent, but more importantly provides a new way of thinking for sustainable urban and rural development around the world from the perspective of a community of shared future for mankind.
Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG11) promotes sustainable cities and communities including rural areas, and supports positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, per-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning (Indicator 11a). Member States of the United Nations commit to the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and promote sustainable development in both urban and rural areas. As the United Nations focal agency for human settlements comprising the urban-rural continuum, UN-Habitat is mandated to foster the implementation of SDG11 and NUA by strengthening Urban Rural Linkages (URLs). More on Urban-Rural Linkages work by UN-Habitat can be found at https://urbanrurallinkages.wordpress.com/.
Besides, UN-Habitat proactively responds to United Nations’ ongoing reform through innovation and opens itself to bold new tools, technologies and ideas on sustainable urban and rural development.
The Songyang Innovative Rural Development Programme aims to thoroughly analyze and capture the unconventional inspiring practices implemented in the rural Songyang County, and how such innovative inventions have contributed to revitalizing the rural area through empowering the local people technically, financially and mentally. Harnessing the successful story of Songyang’s rural development is expected to provide valuable lessons and inspirations to other rural areas worldwide. Mutually, best practices from other rural districts will in turn, stimulate further innovations in Songyang. As a result, innovative and sustainable development initiatives are expected to significantly strengthen rural areas and their linkages to cities, relieve the demographic pressure of
urban areas, and extensively contribute to the overall prosperity of human settlements.
In recent years, Songyang has been putting rural development in the context of urban-rural integration by focusing on culture and architecture and implementing the “architectural acupuncture” strategy to systematically promote economic and social restructuring in rural areas. It actively explores a road of rural revitalization built on culture and has achieved favourable results. United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) invited the People’s Government of Songyang County to the first UN-Habitat Assembly. This forum is part of the activities agreed upon in the letter of intent between UN-Habitat and Songyang People’s government during the first UNHabitat Assembly in May 2019; see press release at https://new.unhabitat.org/sites/default/files/2019/07/songyang_press_release_rs.pdf.
As part of the Songyang Innovative Rural Development Programme, the Forum will be of interest and benefit to a broad base of stakeholders: government authorities, relevant international organization representatives, academia, and other stakeholders working in the urban-rural continuum in different capacities. Participants will be inspired by innovative practices in China and beyond. Through plenary sessions on normative work and impact stories, guided exhibitions, networking and technical visits, participants will gain insights on innovations for rural revitalization. Furthermore, the Forum will be the first forum to promote the role of rural development within the continuum of human settlements to implement the agenda 2030 vision of ensuring that No One and No Place
is left behind.
Name of Organization: UN-Habitat and the People’s Government of Songyang County
Partner organization: The People’s Government of Songyang County
Names and titles of speakers:
Theme1: Rural Revitalization through Valorisation
In the new era, villages are not only about agriculture, but also are important for eco-conservation, leisure and sightseeing, and unique cultural experience. They have become the novel space for wellness preservation, eldercare, innovation, entrepreneurship, and living with prominent economic, ecological, social and cultural values. We hope to inspire more people to re-evaluate villages and explore village values after sharing interpretation and perspectives of people from different regions in this regard.
Theme2: Rural Revitalization through Innovative Practices
Unlike cities, rural areas are relatively landlocked and lack of resources. In this case, it is necessary to think outside the box to achieve rural revitalization and growth. We must innovate the pattern of rural development, tackle the conundrum of unsustainable urban and rural development, and find a new path for rural revitalization in line with the concept of eco-civilization. It is hoped that exchanges of hands-on experience and innovative practices in rural areas in different regions will inspire more people to think about rural development and learn from effective innovation experience to promote rural sustainable development.
Theme: Rural Revitalization through Innovative Practices
Rural revitalization would be unsustainable without industrial revitalization. As public infrastructure improves and modern technologies such as the Internet are extensively applied in villages, geographic and industrial boundaries between urban and rural areas have gradually blurred. Villages will witness the original single-product agricultural economy being gradually taken over by a new economic form as agriculture integrates with other industries such as agro-processing, leisure tourism, and cultural creativity. They will become the new place for global innovation and entrepreneurship. We hope that by sharing cases of rural revitalization in eco-agriculture, rural tourism, folk house economy, cultural creativity, etc. in different rural areas, people will explore the path of rural development driven by industrial revitalization, and fully activate the underlying driving force of rural sustainable development.
Estimated number of participants: 200