Transitioning towards a Sustainable Wellbeing Economy—Implications for Rural–Urban Relations
1.1. Evolution of (Economic) Development Models
- Classical development models focused on economic growth;
- Green growth, smart growth, and circular economy models;
- Collaborative (or sharing) economy and distributed economy models;
- Eco-economy and regenerative economy models;
- Foundational economy and sustainable wellbeing models.
1.2. Research Questions
- To what extent and in what ways is the shift from a narrow economic perspective to wider sustainable wellbeing, explicitly or implicitly, expressed in regional development strategies and actions?
- How could the shift towards a wider sustainable wellbeing perspective change rural–urban relations, and under what conditions can it lead to more mutually beneficial relations?
2. Methodology and Empirical Basis
- Elaboration of an analytical framework with key criteria for exploring the significance of sustainable wellbeing goals in regional level strategies and actions;
- Application of the analytical framework in 11 European regions to determine in how far a shift towards sustainable wellbeing can be recognized;
- Exploring how this shift could change rural–urban relations and under what conditions this could lead to more mutually beneficial relations.
2.1. Analytical Framework of Sustainable Wellbeing
- The limitedness of natural resources and of the buffer capacity of natural systems which are effectively expressed in the planetary boundaries work; related to this, demands for a more environmentally sustainable development;
- The limited recognition of socio-cultural and quality of life goals in orthodox development models. Quality of life is becoming more important especially for the younger generation, but also more broadly;
- The uneven distribution of income and access to goods and services, and the increasing discomfort regarding the wellbeing of future generations; related to this, demands for a more, equitable and inclusive economic development.
2.2. Empirical Basis
3.1. Characterization of the Development in the 11 EU Case Study Regions
3.2. Do Sustainable Wellbeing Goals Play a Role in Regional Level Strategies?
- Environmentally sustainable development;
- Socio-cultural aspects and quality of life;
- Equitable and inclusive economic development.
3.2.1. Environmentally Sustainable Development
3.2.2. Socio-Cultural Aspects and Quality of Life
3.2.3. Equitable and Inclusive Economic Development
3.3. A Synopsis of Key Findings
4.1. Can a Shift towards a Sustainable Wellbeing Economy Be Recognised?
4.2. How Could the Shift towards a Wider Sustainable Wellbeing Perspective Change Rural–Urban Relations and under What Conditions Can It Lead to More Mutually Beneficial Relations?
“The economy is a means to an end, and should be helping us to live good lives, which means we need to redesign the economy. … A wellbeing economy is one that will deliver human and ecological wellbeing.”(Trebeck, 2020)
- In four regions (Ede, NL; Frankfurt/Rhein-Main, DE; Gloucestershire, UK; mid-Wales, UK) balancing urban growth and economic goals with environmental goals, an increased ecosystem services provision, environmental protection, and sustainable modes of mobility are dominant strategic goals. Mid-Wales pays particular attention to encouraging smart growth, while maintaining the distinctive Welsh culture and language;
- Four other regions emphasize strategies and actions that are to strengthen local economic relations, a more balanced (harmonized, integrated territorial) development and social and territorial cohesion (Helsinki, FI; Lisbon Metropolitan Area, PT; Valencia, ES; Ljubljana, SI). A particular aspect in Valencia is the shift from a sector-based, short-term view to a territory-based, long-term view. In Ljubljana, the related aim is to counteract suburbanization and the reduced availability of public services in rural areas, thereby fostering inclusion;
- Three regions emphasize in their strategies the valorization of social, environmental (landscape), and cultural values assets and cultural heritage (i.e., less related to balancing or rural–urban relations) (Lucca Province, IT; Tukums, LV; Metropolitan Area Styria, AT). Tukums connects sustainable living and working conditions of high quality, valorizing regional cultural capital and improving accessibility in its strategies. In Styria, particular attention is paid to fostering cooperation in public infrastructure, social services and cultural activities, thereby enhancing quality of life. Especially the regions in this last cluster point to a connection of more synergistic territorial relations with sustainable wellbeing.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
|Model||Framing||Key Focus and Mechanism||References|
|Classical economic growth||Smith (1776) |
|Smart growth, green growth and circular economy||COM (2010, 2017),|
Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2020)
|Collaborative or sharing economy||Botsman and Rogers (2010) |
|Distributed economy||Johansson et al. (2005)|
|Eco-economy, regenerative economy||Brown (2001), Marsden and Farioli (2015)|
|Foundational economy, sustainable wellbeing economy||Bentham et al. (2013)|
Raworth (2017, 2019)
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|Environmentally Sustainable||Socio-Cultural and Quality of Life||Equitable and Inclusive Economic Development|
|(1) Climate-friendly production systems and lifestyles|
(2) Natural capital, natural resources integrity and resilience
(3) Sustainable management of land, maintenance of high nature value areas and ecosystem services provision
(4) More efficient use of finite resources (decoupling)
(5) Transition to renewable energy
(6) Sustainable mobility
|(7) Social capital, diversity and resilience|
(8) Social justice and good living conditions for all
(9) Activities considered meaningful by people, social recognition and security
(10) Collaboration and coherence
(11) Healthy food
(12) Education and healthcare
|(13) Decent, satisfying jobs and enough household income for all|
(14) Fair income distribution
(15) Equitable access to resources and inclusive development
(16) Strengthening of local economic relations, diversity, synergies and resilience
(17) Maintaining the given resource base for future generations
|Ede Municipality, Netherlands||318||364||+0.9%|
|Gloucestershire, United Kingdom||3150||239||+0.9%|
|Helsinki-Uusimaa Region, Finland||9568||176||+1.0%|
|Lisbon Metropolitan Area, Portugal||3015||944||+1.3%|
|Ljubljana Region, Slovenia||2334||237||+0.8%|
|Lucca Province, Italy||1773||220||−0.1%|
|Mid-Wales, United Kingdom||17,034||60||−0.2%|
|Metropolitan Area Styria, Austria||1890||261||+1.1%|
|Tukums Municipality, Latvia||1195||23||−1.2%|
|Province of Valencia, Spain||10,812||228||+1.0%|
|Region||Environmentally Sustainable||Socio-Cultural and Quality of Life||Equitable and Inclusive Economic Development|
|Lisbon Metropolitan Area, PT||h||m||m||m||m||m||h||m||m||h|
|Lucca Province, IT||m||m||m||m||h||h|
|Metropolitan Area Styria, AT||m||h||m||m||m||h||h|
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Knickel, K.; Almeida, A.; Galli, F.; Hausegger-Nestelberger, K.; Goodwin-Hawkins, B.; Hrabar, M.; Keech, D.; Knickel, M.; Lehtonen, O.; Maye, D.; et al. Transitioning towards a Sustainable Wellbeing Economy—Implications for Rural–Urban Relations. Land 2021, 10, 512. https://doi.org/10.3390/land10050512
Knickel K, Almeida A, Galli F, Hausegger-Nestelberger K, Goodwin-Hawkins B, Hrabar M, Keech D, Knickel M, Lehtonen O, Maye D, et al. Transitioning towards a Sustainable Wellbeing Economy—Implications for Rural–Urban Relations. Land. 2021; 10(5):512. https://doi.org/10.3390/land10050512Chicago/Turabian Style
Knickel, Karlheinz, Alexandra Almeida, Francesca Galli, Kerstin Hausegger-Nestelberger, Bryonny Goodwin-Hawkins, Mojca Hrabar, Daniel Keech, Marina Knickel, Olli Lehtonen, Damian Maye, and et al. 2021. "Transitioning towards a Sustainable Wellbeing Economy—Implications for Rural–Urban Relations" Land 10, no. 5: 512. https://doi.org/10.3390/land10050512