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Societal demands – visionary and realistic?

 

What would happen with European land resources if we would manage to organise urbanisation processes in a way that urban sprawl is reduced to a minimum? Or if we would be able to stop land abandonment and deserting of the rural by enhancing tourism and nature recreation in those areas? Or if we would take climate mitigation serious?

The societal debate is not so much on the impact on the land of these dreams. Land is rather being considered as the resource that should make all those dreams possible: the societal demand for a liveable rural area, within reach of an increasing number of city-dwellers, on the condition that agriculture would provide food-security and the environment as a whole would safeguard biodiversity while providing the desired ecosystem services. Many economists claim that it is indeed just a dream that this is possible, and they present sector analyses demonstrating how difficult it is to achieve e.g. the EU’s 20% renewable energy target in 2020, or the zero land take target of 2050, given the economic boundary conditions that are determining societal trajectories. On the other side, among other things inspired by the ideas of Elinor Ostrom, a strong voice is increasingly being heard that citizens could very well assume self-governing responsibility. In many small-scale initiatives this seems indeed to work. Can this be a model for Europe as a whole as well?

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