(How) is the territorial development approach benefitting rural areas around the world?

Rural areas are home to around three quarters of the world’s poor, and will be increasingly impacted by global phenomena such as globalization, migration, urbanization, decentralization, and climate change in the future. Accordingly, rural regions and their inhabitants are expected to remain an important focus of international cooperation efforts in the coming decades.


But how can the development of rural regions succeed – especially when faced with a multitude of challenges and a rapidly changing global environment? Last year, we were commissioned by the the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ) – through its sector program “Zukunftsfähige Ländliche Räume” (SV ZLR) – to help answer this question. More specifically, our team analyzed five exemplary territorial development projects implemented by GIZ in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Cameroon, India and Colombia. By systematizing and analyzing the available information, we looked for answers to questions like: what are specific characteristics of the territorial development approach, and how are they operationalized “in the field”? And: what are some of the key findings from existing territorial development projects, and what lessons can be learned for future interventions?


In an effort to develop a systemic, holistic and inclusive approach to developing rural areas, the territorial development approach turns out to be an important strategy, and is being increasingly implemented by GIZ. The successful implementation of territorial development projects needs time, and demands long-term commitments of all players involved. Due to its comparably sustainable and promising results, territorial development will certainly continue to be an important approach for designing rural development projects in the future.


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