The paper describes the key aspects of rural development in Ukraine. Attention is focused on the interpretation of a concept of “rural areas” as an object of scientific research on economy of nature management and environment protection. It substantiates the importance of Ukraine’s transition to the sustainable rural development concept. The paper also characterises the advantages and disadvantages of basic components of sustainable rural development: economic, social and ecological. The fundamental problems and factors of present-day unsatisfactory condition of rural development in Ukraine are presented. The usefulness of providing into the following research the normative and legal factors in order to improve state administrative system and management is proved. Prospective directions of Ukrainian government support for sustainable rural development are suggested. European experience of sustainable rural development and possibility of its application in Ukraine is discussed.
Due to its favourable geographical conditions, temperate climate and fertile soils Ukraine has traditionally been considered as an agricultural country, as the share of agricultural production in GDP in Ukraine is one of the highest in Europe (8.2%). Nominal GDP for the 2nd quarter of 2014 was UAH 372,770 million. Real GDP for the 2nd quarter of 2014, compared with 2nd quarter of 2013 (at constant prices of 2010), was 95.4% and compared with the 1st quarter of 2014, seasonally adjusted – 96.8% (excluding the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol).
The priority and dominance of agricultural sector caused the appropriate attitude of people to the land, formed special traditions of carrying out personal farming and “culture of behaviour” towards the environment protection. Along with this, what deserves particular attention is the identity of а villager (peasant) as the owner of land plot, who not only has the relevant knowledge and skills of economic activity, but also refers to his work with respect, specifically, his anthropogenic activities, should not lead to soil depletion, water pollution, poor quality of agricultural production, etc.
However, not only peasant, but also other agricultural producers must be responsible for their activities (for example, agricultural cooperatives, farmers, agricultural holdings). And for this purpose suitable conditions for doing business should be created for them. Unfortunately, Ukrainian rural areas have been going through prolonged economic and social crisis, which is the most problematic link of economic activity, especially towards crop and livestock production realisation. In addition, the situation becomes more complicated because living standards in the rural areas continue to be very low.
Decline of rural areas and socio-economic crisis of Ukrainian rural areas are accompanied by a systemic decrease in living standards of rural population and agricultural production decrease.
Successful development of rural areas is a guarantor of food security, its economic independence, investment attractiveness and strong export positions. A village has always been and still is the carrier of historical values, cultural traditions, transformer of mentality and spirituality and national identity.
aditions, transformer of mentality and spirituality and national identity. But because of the scientific and technological revolution and industrial development, innovation in agriculture, intensive production, natural population growth and, on the other hand, destruction of humus layer of the planet, impoverishment of biodiversity, depletion of natural resources, pollution, etc., rural areas, as a separate system of the social structure of society, gradually started to lose their value, which led to numerous degradation processes.
Thus, it is the right time for Ukrainian village to realise the Concept of sustainable development of rural areas. World tendencies show that the development of rural areas should be characterised by the balance of its three main components, namely: economic, social and ecological sustainability.
After the adoption of the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine (August 24, 1991) and a long period of socio-economic reforms in Ukraine, socio- -economic situation and living conditions remain at a low level, particularly in the rural areas. The main problems of rural areas development in Ukraine include:
− unemployment and low level of wages, absence of work motivation;
− demographic crisis;
− internal and external migration;
− unsatisfactory condition of social infrastructure and public services, transport and communication connections;
− cultural and educational decline;
− unsatisfactory health services;
− inability of comprehensive human development (spiritual, aesthetic, physical, etc.);
− imperfect regulatory and legal framework and lack of well-defined rural development policy and support;
− contamination of the natural environment;
− low level of environmental consciousness and responsibility