Stakeholder engagement is a key and critical issue in PoliRural project. PoliRural methodology is being tested in a total of 12 pilots, and a community of interest has been built around each pilot. These communities, also known as stakeholder panels comprise different stakeholders with direct knowledge and experience in each region: public authorities, rural communities, experts and industry, among others.
In pilot regions, stakeholder engagement has been a prominent subject over the last months. In this context, we can highlight the following activities related to stakeholder engagement in each PoliRural pilot:
- Apulia (Italy): Over the last months, two rounds of face-to-face and online meetings were organized: in both cases the Apulia pilot involved the various stakeholders via calls or emails. The same procedure was followed to involve new entrants in the project. Thanks to these 6 new entrants were involved in the pilot;
- Central Bohemia Region (Czech Republic): Due to Covid-19 restrictions, meetings with partners, experts and policy-makers and engagement of new stakeholders over the last months were provided online and primarily bilaterally. The successful collaboration with Local Action Groups (LAGs) on the regional and even national level was deepened;
- Central Greece (Greece): During the last months, three meetings/workshops were held at 02/02/2021 (14 stakeholders), 04/02/2021 (17 stakeholders) and 14/04/2021 (5 stakeholders) in order to identify the most important challenges and drivers of change in the region, including COVID Deep Dives topic. The results provided input for two articles that were published by national newspaper and the project’s Newsletter. During the last week of May, the pilot partners participated in the virtual presentation of PoliRural project at the local TV channel STAR;
- Flanders (Belgium): During the last months, all meetings took place on-line. The meetings were held with representatives of the Department of Agriculture (government), the Flemish Land Agency, Regional Landscapes (NGO) and the farmers’ Union. These prime PoliRural contacts outreach was organised to have individual and targeted contacts with stakeholders in order to obtain the information needed for the PoliRural project;
- Galilee (Israel): In this pilot the “Leading Team” that involves delegates from industry, academia, agriculture and citizens, are concentrating on advancing upgrading the regional digitalisation infrastructure for development. Galilee pilot organised a Zoom meeting on 10/3/21 with the Eastern Galilee Cluster of Mayors. The pilot presented to the Cluster of the 18th municipalities the outcomes of the discussions that were held during the PoliRural activities and the pilot plans to present it to the government;
- Gevgelija-Strumica (Macedonia): Over the last months, AGFT and GGP as supporting partners have conducted two meetings (one physical meeting and one online meeting) with the Regional Panel Group. Main topics that were subject of these two meetings were: Needs analysis, Drivers analysis, Policy challenges and Foresight Deep dives. As a result of Covid-19 restrictions, the team of AGFT and GGP was forced to perform additional one-on-one consultations which was a continuous process of communication with representatives of different stakeholders within the Panel Group on several occasions;
- Häme (Finland): During the last months, two meetings with stakeholder group were organized on Teams platform which is used by the pilot as a communication platform for the group. In this period Häme pilot focus was on technological tools of the project, especially on System Dynamic Modelling (SDM) which was introduced, and its possibilities with Häme pilot work were discussed widely with the stakeholder group. In addition, the Text Mining tool was introduced to the stakeholders. The vision for the foresight work was also discussed further and refined together with the stakeholders and the work on deep-dives was on-going;
- Mazowieckie (Poland): Over the last months, stakeholder engagement in the Polish pilot was moderate, taking place online among the 7-14 most active members. The LAG, which is the biggest supporter of the pilot, allowed the use of already developed communication channels to reach a wider audience, especially for online surveys, newsletter dissemination and contacts with local authorities. This also allowed work to be carried out during the next escalation of the situation with covid-19 in early spring;
- Monaghan (Ireland): This pilot has an active Panel of 30 directly relevant people, including 5 rural newcomers, at its core. In addition, emails and surveys have been sent to over 300 targeted stakeholders. After 4 community physical meetings were held initially, most engagement and interactions now are by phone due to the covid-19 pandemic restrictions;
- Segóbriga (Spain): From the beginning of the project, the role of the LEADER Group was essential for the identification phase of Stakeholders. Firstly, a list of policy makers in the territory was drawn up and since then, the list has been expanded following the “snowball sampling” method, that is, asking people to refer others. In this way, the private sector and other stakeholders have been involved. Activities (3 surveys, 2 face-to-face meetings, 8 online meetings) have also helped to incorporate new stakeholders. When these events are being prepared, the “target audience” for each one of them is analyzed, and as result new incorporations are obtained;
- Slovakia Region: In this pilot, inclusive and participatory involvement of stakeholders takes on a regular basis in all stages of the project by various ways: regional panel, kick-off high-level meeting with parliamentarians, 6 workshops with rural actors (7 are planned for September), several surveys, direct contacts, dedicated website with discussion forum and publication of all events, documents and outcomes, consultations with responsible authorities and participation in various national decision-making processes. Recently, the pilot delivered a presentation to over 70 registered participants of the online workshop with the Office of the Plenipotentiary for the Development of the Civil Society with the aim to promote PoliRural participatory processes as a good role model for civil society engagement;
- Vidzeme (Latvia): During the last months, 2 rounds of VPR working group meetings (~10 in total) about foresight progress and 6 deep dives workshops were organised with external stakeholders, where 336 participants took place. Together with public, online feedback collection more than 2000 ideas, recommendations and suggestions were collected for the pilot. A public campaign was organized to collect new entrant stories, and 39 stories were submitted about 32 new entrants.