Urban – rural

The urban-rural divide presents one of the major challenges for the cohesion of the Baltic Sea Region. This divide becomes more and more detrimental for the rural areas in effect of the population ageing and outward migration.

The VASAB Long Term Perspective for the Baltic Sea Region (LTP) envisages that in 2030 the Region should feature a well-balanced setup of metropolitan centres, which act as the global and the BSR gateways, and small and medium-sized cities and towns, which secure a high-quality of life for their residents in both urban and rural areas.

The VASAB LTP defines several policy guidelines towards promoting urban networking and urban-rural cooperation:

  • Metropoles need to play a strategic role in mobilising the Baltic Sea Region’s potential for stronger international services;
  • Breaking the East-West divide pattern in the innovation performance requires a joint network action of the BSR metropoles and stimulation of cluster development in more peripheral areas;
  • Integration processes in the BSR will be strengthened by making use of strategic plans of Saint Petersburg to become a world city;
  • Potential of small and medium-sized cities and towns in the metropolitan areas should be better exploited to connect the Baltic Sea Region with the global networks more efficiently;
  • While institutional and cultural cooperation between all BSR countries is on the good track, a key solution for integrating North West Russia into the economic system of the Baltic Sea Region is to provide incentives for creation of economic clusters as the sub-regional scale;
  • Overcoming the urban-rural divide in the BSR is only feasible through enhanced cooperation and partnership, and through the local capacities for change.

The VASAB LTP envisages nine Action Agendas for the implementation of the mentioned policy guidelines. Full text of the VASAB LTP is available here.


Regarding urban-rural relations in 2010 VASAB has organised 2 expert and stakeholder events. Outcomes are available here:

VASAB Expert Workshop on Urban-Rural Relations in the Baltic Sea Region in Minsk on 21 September 2010 VASAB Expert and Stakeholder meeting on Demographic Trends and Labour Market Development in Kaunas on 8 June 2010