Rural Exchange

Rural Lens

Applying a rural lens to policy means considering the specific needs, challenges, and opportunities of rural communities when designing and implementing policies. It involves taking into account the unique characteristics and contexts of rural areas, such as lower population densities, limited access to services, and different economic structures to promote the long term sustainability and prosperity of rural areas. 

In April 2023, Scotland’s new First Minister Humza Yousaf MSP published his policy prospectus ‘Equality, opportunity, community’ and announced that the Scottish Government would publish a Rural Delivery Plan (RDP) by 2026. The Plan will show (p8):

“…how all parts of the Scottish Government are delivering for rural Scotland. As well as policies on agriculture, land reform, marine, and our Islands Plan, this will cover areas such as transport, housing, social justice, repopulation, digital connectivity and economic development.”

A few months before this in December 2022, two Cabinet Secretaries (Mairi Gougeon MSP, [then] Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands and Kate Forbes MSP [then] Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy), made a commitment to apply a rural lens to projects funded as part of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET) which launched in Spring 2022.

More recently in August 2023, Cabinet Secretary Mairi Gougeon MSP, commenting on the publication of "The Rural and Islands Report: 2023", part of SRUC's NISRIE and ReRIC projects, confirmed that:

“The Scottish Government is committed to continuing to build vibrant, sustainable and inclusive rural and island communities, now and for future generations.”

"The Rural and Islands Report: 2023" is the first in a series of annual reports funded by the Scottish Government. It provides a focus on Scotland's remote regions, to better understand the challenges and opportunities these communities face. 

This report will help to inform the Rural Development Plan which is an opportunity to set out the actions government and public bodies are taking to improve policies that impact rural communities - such as agriculture, marine, land reform, transport, housing, repopulation, social justice and digital connectivity.

Further Reading

More within the Rural Lens project