The original contribution of the present thesis is to implement, in aquantitative way, a “measure” of rural development at regional scale compared to ameasure of the environmental performances of the different areas of the country.Rural development is in theory and in practice a multidimensional andcomplex concept. The complexity of this phenomenon leads to limitations in theanalysis of its structural dimensions. The variables better describing these dimensionsshould be selected to effectively inform policies aimed at promoting rural areas with asustainable development perspective.The aim of the thesis is to develop a multidimensional model in order tomeasure the rural development using thematic indicators and a final, composite indexof rural development. The composite index integrates a large number of demographic,social, cultural and economic indicators that are key elements of rural development.The environmental sustainability of rural development in Greek prefectures (Nuts 3level) was assessed too by using thematic indicators of climate, soil, and vegetationquality (all of these are environmental dimensions directly linked to ruraldevelopment) and a composite index of land quality.Descriptive, correlation, and multivariate statistics were used for thedevelopment of the multidimensional approach measuring rural development.Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools were also used to derive the selectedenvironmental indicators from national cartographies and other sourcesThe results derived from the multidimensional analysis measuring ruraldevelopment compared with the selected environmental indicators depict a complexpicture of the Greek rural development at the prefecture level.According to the results, rural development policies should more effectivelyintegrate economic, social, institutional, political, cultural and environmental aspectsand peculiarity of each region.As a matter of fact, this contribution demonstrates how rural areas in Greecedo not follow a certain pattern but different patterns according to the specificsocioeconomic and environmental features of each area. The results also pointed out the traditional socioeconomic gaps in the rural geography of Greece as well as somerecent changes that have been observed especially in the most dynamic areas. At thesame time no significant development has been observed in rural areas where atraditional economic structure exists.Although agriculture plays an important role in rural areas, the traditionalagricultural model can no longer be considered to be sustainable in the long run andneeds to be replaced by more viable modes of production. On the other hand, it hasbeen found that socioeconomic drivers affect significantly the environmentalconditions possibly creating downward spirals determining land degradation and evendesertification risk in non-affluent, agricultural specialized areas.On the other hand, the results highlight the ability of the proposed model tosummarize and interpret a large amount of information in a composite measure,enabling the assessment of the economic performance of different rural areas ofGreece. Additionally, it identifies points of weaknesses and strengths of rural areas,and classifies them based on their environmental performance, prioritizing them andidentifying developing areas.The model can provide a simple and flexible tool informing rural developmentpolicies. Moreover, the proposed results highlight the possible relationship existingbetween rural development and environmental quality in order to indicate a regionalpath to sustainable development.These findings may apply not only to the case of Greece but also to othercountries similar to Greece as far as environmental conditions and rural landscape areconcerned, including Portugal, Spain and central/southern Italy.