Recent Dynamics and Challenges of Territorial, Economic and Social Processes
The rhythm of human life and activity focused on development, progress, modernization and globalization heavily related to space, territory, land-use and urbanization is leading to rapidly changing environmental conditions in terms of territorial challenges, territorial dynamics and spatial progress. These changing conditions engendered new societal challenges and opportunities. Population and socio-economic dynamics in changing spatially complex environments represents a key issue to debate nowadays and generate complex effects approached through interdisciplinary domains and research projects focusing on different areas from a global to a local perspective. In the new view of an integrative global environment the demographic element with its characteristic elements (demographic structures and rates, labor force, migrations, population evolution and modeling) and human settlements (from hamlets and villages to metropolitan areas) appear as a core element envisaged as both, cause and effect of complex geographical phenomena.
Current research results and findings will identify knowledge gaps regarding the interaction between human behavior and its recent dynamics, territorial changes, urbanization, land-use change, and natural resources. Scenarios regarding population ageing, economic dependency ratio and unemployment, disappearance of the rural world in its physical and anthropological sense would be just few of the problems that demand the current attention of both scientists and politicians.
a. Dynamics of Urban and Rural Territorial Changes
The current human landscape is one of the most transformed, altered and further undergoing through rapid and dramatic transformations landscape of this world. Its two main sub components, the urban and the rural are the result of changing relationship between the specific human way of life and their related forms of space organization and functioning. Due to their dynamics and territorial changes as well as challenges, the rural and urban areas are inextricably interlinked, many times with the distinction between them becoming diffuse, particularly in the urban fringes of the large urban agglomerations. The suburban emerging landscapes are like a fragmented mosaic of different forms of land cover and a dense transport infrastructure among many other sectors. Significant patterns of rural-urban dynamics related to the changing nature of livelihoods, mobility, markets, settlement dynamics and rural-urban relations along with political and economic changes, the decentralized systems of local governance as main drivers in transformation of production and consumption spaces are just few aspects of the overall framework of development trajectories worth of scientific interest. National vs local is another perspective of importance when dynamics of urban and rural territorial changes are taken into consideration.
b. Spatial Dynamics of Demographic, Economic and Social Processes under the Global Crisis
The concept of global crisis is the multi-layered term concerning a vast category of aspects among which demographic change seen as long-term process lasting several decades; the nature of economic transformations and challenges generating new forms of governance and lastly but not ultimately, the changing intergovernmental relations as major facilitator of economic development. Changes such as globalization of markets, improved communications, changing trade patterns, and the diversification of activities in rural regions had affected the national and local economies and all aspects of life. The recent economic crisis puts under scrutiny these changes and emphases the existing problems (rural poverty, inequalities in rural labour market, farm structural adjustment, migration). Territorial variability of economic and social processes, a result of inequalities in economic development caused by unbalanced territorial natural resources and by historical, administrative and politic factors, is a broad theme spectrum gathering important present scientific issues from social and economic sphere of activities constantly facing the perspective of the relocation process. Growing social poverty, high unemployment and ethnic tensions appear more focused in certain areas generating further territorial economic and social processes. Recent phenomena like population decrease, ageing, immigration, unemployment, and lifestyle changes (which had reshaped the housing market), segregation, gentrification patterns, social exclusion along with the perspectives of ecological agriculture; the green washing of brown fields and the industrial clusters; the commercial balance or the tourism industry and the life cycle of tourism destinations are some issues approached by this generous theme which aims to emphasize results of researches on territorial economic development in the light of new factors and challenges such as the present economic recession.