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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Chillán

International seminar organized by APEC and ODEPA takes discussion of rural issues to Ñuble

The seminar "Strengthening Rural Areas as a Contribution to Food Security in the Asia-Pacific Region" was recently organized in the context of the implementation of the National Rural Development Policy in Chile led by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Office of Agricultural Studies and Policies (ODEPA).

The event brought together leading Chilean and foreign experts on rural issues to discuss and present visions for improving quality of life and increasing opportunities in rural areas.

Ñuble Regional Governor Martín Arrau, who participated in the seminar, said, "When we talk about rural development and food security, we are talking about issues inherent to the Ñuble region and its inhabitants, and everything that was presented helps us to implement new public policies that do not leave anyone behind, as the President of Chile has requested."

For her part, ODEPA Director María Emilia Undurraga highlighted the work that is being done to support rural areas. "We cannot only think through rural policies in Santiago, so being here in the Ñuble region is an important gesture. We want to work closely with rural regions, and we believe that Ñuble will teach all of Chile how to look at rural issues."

Undurraga discussed the National Rural Development Policy, which "seeks to broaden the perspective of the rural towards a space of opportunities and to connect the economic, social and environmental needs as well as the culture and tradition of rural areas."

Along these same lines, Enrique Garcilazo, head of the OECD Regional and Rural Policy Unit, said, "I am very pleased with how Chile is advancing in terms of rural policies, and the change of outlook in which the rural is not only agricultural and that there are many more assets that can be mobilized."

He also highlighted the fact that the way that rural issues are viewed in Chile has changed: "The country has engaged in this reflection and identified its own strategy. Its rural policy is up and running and a great deal of progress also has been made on definitions. It gives me great pleasure to see the progress that has been made."

The seminar sought to foster discussion of the importance of strengthening rural areas and how this contributes to food security. It was also meant to promote collaboration and the exchange of knowledge on promoting rural areas in the context of a new vision of the rural sector as a space for opportunities. This approach favors urban-rural connections and contributes to food security. All of this is being undertaken to improve the implementation of existing and future policies and to strengthen APEC economies’ commitment to their rural territories.

The event was also attended by Kelly Barry, a researcher of the economic development of native communities in New Zealand, who spoke about the importance of culture and rural identity; Alejandra Engler, Professor of Agrarian Economics at Universidad de Talca, who spoke about the promotion of sustainable development in rural areas; and Gonzalo Valdivieso, director of the Villarrica campus of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, who spoke about economic dynamism in rural territories.

The meeting was also attended by representatives of Thailand, Peru, the Philippines, Vietnam, the United States and New Zealand, all of which are APEC economies.

National Rural Development Policy

Approximately 30% of Chileans currently live in rural municipalities, which cover over 80% of the country. However, there are still significant gaps between these areas and urban ones, particularly in terms of infrastructure, quality healthcare, education and poverty levels.

It will take more than agricultural policy changes to address the issue of rural development.

This is why the government is committed to implementing a National Rural Development Policy designed to improve quality of life and increase opportunities in rural territories through the gradual, planned and sustained adoption of a "New Rural Paradigm" for which a public intervention that integrates a territorial focus at various levels has been created. This fosters synergies between public and public-private initiatives in order to diversify and promote the development of smaller towns and cities, safeguarding the natural and cultural heritage essential for their territorial sustainability. This objective will be reached through the following four areas:

  • Social Welfare, seeking to reduce gaps in people’s access to public services and goods, reducing rural poverty.
  • Economic Opportunities, improving economic performance, activating and boosting local economies.
  • Environmental Sustainability, highlighting the environmental value of rural territories for the sustainable development of Chile.
  • Culture and Identity, highlighting the culture and traditions of rural territories.

Finally, this policy proposes a definition of governance that aims to establish an institutional framework to achieve multilevel coordination, and that promotes decentralization and collaboration between the public sector, private sector and civil society.

Source: ODEPA, Ministry of Agriculture

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