The nature of these interactions has become more intense, both across space and across sectors – agriculture, industry and services – with important implications for food systems. The urbanisation of rural regions is a central feature of rural transformation. It allows rural households to diversify their sources of employment and income while living and working across a rural-urban continuum. These links are not only key components of livelihoods and of local economies, they are also 'engines' that drive economic, social and cultural transformations.

Rural-urban linkages have been defined broadly as the reciprocal flows of people, goods, services in general, money and environmental services, with many of these linkages related directly or indirectly to food systems. They can be represented by linkages between sectors (e.g. between agriculture and manufacturing). In addition, rural-urban interactions can include “rural” activities taking place in urban centres (such as urban agriculture) and activities often classified as urban (such as manufacturing and services) taking place in rural settlements.