The NRE Mandate
The New Rural Economy is an
emergent reality. Its shape, future, opportunities, and vulnerabilities are not evident in
any one of its parts. Rural Canada is no longer mainly a place to farm or extract
resources. It is a diverse value-adding economy and environmental trust organized as
communities. In addition to creating jobs, exports and wealth, the New Rural Economy is
increasingly viewed as part of the Canadian patrimony: a multiple-use asset to protect and
value, of common interest to all Canadians. We need to understand these changes in order
to anticipate problems, and to seize opportunities as they emerge. The complexity of the
changes requires a collaborative and comprehensive approach to learning.
The New Rural Economy Research
Program is a partnership initiative of the Canadian Rural Restructuring Foundation (CRRF).
It brings together policy analysts, local leaders, researchers, the business community,
and municipal and non-government agencies to formulate and to address vital rural issues.
It addresses a wide variety of questions to produce short-term and long-term results over
its five-year life-span. These include information about the status and functioning of the
NRE; analysis and synthesis of information for a better understanding of changes in rural
Canada; and sets of questions for the future which cannot even be imagined in the present.
It is conducted at the national level with historical and statistical data analysis, and
at the local level with case studies involving community and household surveys. Products
of the program include * learning forums to discuss and debate opportunities, options, and
choices that include the interests of all rural Canadians and stakeholders;
* insightful, documented
recommendations for long run rural business performance, inclusive development, and public
* informed questions on new
issues, unimaginable in the present, but requiring timely answers for the future.
CRRF aims to provide a stream of
concrete, practical answers to questions raised by partner investors. Each investor in the
NRE gets to ask their own hard questions and gains access to the answers to others'
questions. The NRE Project is important to Rural Stakeholders. Rural economic and social
development have become more complex. Stakeholders such as public utilities, railways,
forest and mining companies, food processors, co-ops, municipalities, voluntary
associations, and churches are finding that the issues they face go far beyond their
immediate concerns. It is therefore crucial to take a broad view: to understand the
relationships among global changes, economic sectors, rural enterprises and institutions,
communities, and the full range of actors in rural Canada. The NRE Project provides the
means whereby these relationships can be examined. It is designed to answer such questions
* How can rural enterprises
effectively operate in global markets and still improve the rural ecological and social
* What training is most
effective for rural people?
* To what extent can new
telecommunications technologies be used to improve productive capacity?
* What forms of health,
education, justice, and social service delivery will better serve rural people?
* What new rural/urban
arrangements can be made which will protect farmland, reduce problems of urban waste
disposal, and care for forests and countryside?
* What new forms of rural
settlements are emerging?
* What are the opportunities for
rural municipalities as they face new responsibilities?
* What can lagging regions learn
from leading ones?
* Did we do anything right in
the past to improve the well-being of rural Canadians?
Rural Stakeholders are Important
to the NRE Project. The NRE Project is grounded in the principle of investor-managed
collaboration between researchers, partners, and rural people. As partners, stakeholders
bring experience, intelligence, networks, resources, and services to the table. By
questioning, discussing, and challenging, they steer the NRE Project in relevant and
useful directions. As a result, core projects may be modified or formulated as new
initiatives. In all cases, the analysis includes a strong comparative element to take
advantage of the synergy this generates.
Stakeholders can participate in
the NRE Project in three primary ways. First, as partners in the core research of the NRE
they influence its direction and have full access to the results. Stakeholders may prefer
to establish one or more focused initiatives which can be integrated into the core
projects. This second type of participation is for projects which partially meet the CRRF
principles of collaboration and comparison. If they are unable to meet these conditions,
they are considered as allied research, with terms of access to NRE data and resources to