Rural development has been, over the last decades, and still is, a much-discussed issue among academic people and policy makers, whether because of deep economic and social changes produced in rural areas or because of the guidelines of the Community Agricultural Policy (CAP), whose sectoral approach is still financially overwhelming. Evaluations on the rural development policy, implemented through a number of different instruments and in the lack of a clear strategic framework, have been focused on single programmes, identified, in a common view, with policy itself. The consequence has been that analysis and judgements have mostly concerned co-financed interventions outputs and results. The need - shown by members of the "Working Group on Rural Development" set in the frame of Sardinian Evaluation Unit activities - of starting up integrated evaluation processes aimed to understand the effects on rural areas of all public interventions has been a starting point for the organization of a workshop, at the 12th Congress of AIV, on the subject of "Evaluation and rural areas development". This essay is a free working-out of the reflections and contributions presented during the workshop, in order to stimulate the discussion on innovative evaluation options on rural development policies and on conceptual and methodological implications linked to the definition of evaluation researches on rural development.
Keywords: Rural (areas, development), programme evaluation, integrated territorial evaluation.