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Rural areas in Italy represent over 90% of the national territorial surface and contribute to the formation of the national added value to the extent of approximately 50%. For the identification of these areas, in the National Strategic Plan (Psn) a classification method was adopted, in agreement with the Regions, borrowed from the OECD one, but integrated with the altimetry of the municipalities and with the extension of the agricultural area. territorial of the provincial capitals, arriving at the definition of three typologies of rural areas and urban poles.
The OECD methodology, in fact, essentially based on population density and defined on a provincial basis, is poorly representative of the Italian reality, characterized by a highly heterogeneous territory, not only in terms of population, even within the same province. Although there are some characteristics that unite rural areas, such as, for example, the low population density and the reduced accessibility to services, there are significant differences between them, in the degree of economic development and in the standard of living, also linked the distance from urban centers. The socio-economic fabric of rural areas is rapidly evolving, as a result of various aspects, such as the rapid changes in the international economy that affect the rural world (in particular globalization and migratory phenomena); the new objectives of agriculture no longer aimed only at production, but also at protecting the environment; climate change and the growing importance of bioenergy. A highly changing context, therefore, in which services play a key role and policies must adapt, trying to respond to the primary needs of rural areas and developing their potential, with the aim of greater socio-economic cohesion between rural areas and urban areas.

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