For decades, scholars in Europe and Asia have been interested in the application of social quality theory to analyze the processes that take place in the urban and rural context and the consequences for everyday life and sustainable living conditions. This is evident from the many working papers of the IASQ, which can be found on their website. Scholars from about thirty institutes worldwide have shown interest in participating. The roots of this thinking can be traced back to the urban expansion of Amsterdam in the 1960s and 1970s. Evaluations conducted with Eurispes in Rome in 2019 also highlighted the need to implement a global platform on ‘urban and rural transformations’ to address the problematic outcomes of urban development projects in the past decades.
Recent global events, such as the Ukrainian conflict, energy and food shortages, and the increasing natural disasters caused by climate change, have further emphasized the need for an urgent review of urbanization paradigms. The past two years of confinement, curfews, and restrictions worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic have had profound impacts, leading to significant and permanent shifts in many sectors and societal behaviors. The widespread use of new technologies, such as remote working, e-medicine, e-learning, and online shopping, have shortened the expected timeline for the development of processes.
Although the emergency in 2020 seemed to be a transitory phenomenon, the forecasts of probable further pandemics and the unpredictable impacts of the ongoing conflict on the global geo-political scenario are confirming that overall urban development strategies need deep reflection. There is a growing demand from inhabitants of large metropolitan areas to permanently resettle in smaller towns and settlements, where the environmental and societal levels are higher. Therefore, a search for alternative urban and rural balanced development is critical, and there is a need to enhance awareness and consensus on a new vision and social quality, based on a comprehensive approach. To this aim, a discussion platform will be oriented towards implementing international activities of research, investigation, know-how, and best-practices exchange in diverse sectors. The objective is to identify and propose shared strategies and operational tools.