If over 70% of the world’s nine billion people are jammed into mega-cities by 2050, would everyone really want to live in one? ICF seeks to define new role for prosperous rural communities.
Over 50% of the people on earth now live in cities, often at the expense of rural areas, and the UN projects that by 2050 that percentage will increase to over 70% as the global population exceeds nine billion people.* Today, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) announces The Rural Imperative, to call attention to the challenges facing rural communities in the 21st Century, and provide a framework for them to seize their destinies and identify ways to create sustainable, long-term prosperity.
The Rural Imperative grew out of two years of work by ICF measuring several North American communities in their use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for economic and social development. This work led ICF to examine the unique challenges of low density and lack of scale that shape rural economies, while considering ways to build on strengths, including a high quality of life, strong social networks and rich cultures.
"Cities are where commerce and culture thrive, offer efficiencies of housing and transportation and where the so-called “creative class” sips its skinny lattes. But extreme urbanization has a darker side, from the unbreathable air in Beijing to the water crisis in Los Angeles,” says Robert Bell, the ICF co-founder who leads the research effort of the Rural Imperative for the organization. “It begs the question: if over 70% of the world’s nine billion people are jammed into mega-cities by 2050, would everyone really want to live in one?”
“Rural communities provide the ecosystem that gives cities life, yet on a global basis they are suffering population and economic losses,” states Bell. “We don’t believe rural communities have to accept this as the status quo. Inventive applications of ICT technologies can bring new prosperity and offer urban dwellers an opportunity to return to their rural roots or form new roots in places of their choice outside of dense cities, while stopping the steady exodus of people to urban areas.”
Added ICF co-founder Louis Zacharilla, “This is not a romantic attempt to keep people ‘down on the farm,’ technology has made this unnecessary. It is, however, a way to make the fields of choice wider using technology and innovative social development.”
Through the Rural Imperative, ICF will devote effort to create model strategies and programs that use ICT to meet the challenges unique to rural communities. From these strategies and programs, ICF will distill best practices and share them with communities around the world, just as it has done for communities since 1999.
ICF will make an announcement regarding its first initiative before May 1.
More information about ICF’s Rural Imperative can be found at www.ruralimperative.com.
About the Intelligent Community Forum
The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) studies and promotes the best practices of the world's Intelligent Communities as they adapt to the demands and seize the opportunities presented by information and communications technology (ICT). To help communities build prosperous economies, solve social problems and enrich local cultures, ICF conducts primary research, hosts events, publishes newsletters and books including the most recent, "Seizing Our Destiny". ICF also produces its high-profile international awards program. Over more than a decade, ICF has become an international movement that attracts the attention of global leaders, thinkers, and media observers. The ICF Foundation consists of 119 cities and regions that have been designated as Intelligent Communities by ICF and which participate in an ongoing global dialogue to strengthen local economies. For more information, go to http://www.intelligentcommunity.org.
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