by Mirjana Čizmović & Milica Kovačević
The main goals of the spatial development of rural areas are to protect and prevent degradation of agricultural land, forests and protected areas, as well as to encourage (more) balanced territorial development. Given that the quality and development of agriculture largely depend on the level of consciousness and awareness of the population in rural areas as to the opportunities and benefits of their involvement in the adoption and approval of planning solutions, the aim of this paper is to define a communication strategy to help raise the awareness of the focus groups (landowners, farmers and investors) of the importance of and link between spatial planning and development of agribusiness and rural areas, exploring different techniques and methods of using various communication channels. The methods which will be used in the paper include secondary research, SWOT analysis, and trend and historical analysis. The research results show that it is essential from the very beginning to take the views of various stakeholders into account through frequent thematic dialogues, in order to incorporate a consensus which has been reached together with the expert team of the developer, into planning decisions. Only such an approach can lead to sustainable and enforceable plans as prerequisites for the realisation of realistically planned investment in rural areas. Furthermore, it is very important to legally standardise such an approach so that public participation, as a mandatory legal procedure, can be defined through precisely defined steps and established performance indicators from the very beginning of the process of adopting planning documents.