Transitioning towards a sustainable wellbeing economy—implications for rural–urban relations

Karlheinz Knickel, Alexandra Almeida, Francesca Galli, Kerstin Hausegger-Nestelberger, Bryonny Goodwin-Hawkins, Mojca Hrabar, Daniel Keech, Marina Knickel, Olli Lehtonen, Damian Maye, Irune Ruiz-Martinez, Sandra Šūmane, Hans Vulto, Johannes S.C. Wiskerke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This article focuses on the question of how a shift from a narrow economic perspective to a wider sustainable wellbeing focus in regional development strategies and actions might change rural– urban relations. A brief review of relevant research and discourses about economic development models provides the foundation for the analysis. The review leads to the development of an analytical framework that puts the notion of sustainable wellbeing at its center. The criteria included in the analytical framework are then used to assess the current situation, challenges and perceived ways forward based on data and analyses from 11 European regions. The focus of the analysis is on different expressions of a sustainable wellbeing economy, and aspects of territorial development that are consistent with the basic features of a wellbeing economy are identified. Development dynamics and tensions between different development goals and resource uses, strategies and actions that are in favor of sustainable wellbeing goals, and conditions for more mutually beneficial rural– urban relationships are discussed. The article concludes with the implications for local government, and governance and policy frameworks. Reference is made to current high-level strategic policy frameworks and the European Green Deal.

Original languageEnglish
Article number512
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2021


  • Case studies
  • Europe
  • Governance
  • Land management
  • Local government
  • Policy
  • Rural–urban relations
  • Sustainable wellbeing


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