PoliRural Slovak pilot closing national conference

On 8th June 2022 took place the closing national conference of the Slovak pilot in the heart of the country, in Low Tatras mountainous region, under the title “Let’s unite ourselves for the rural areas – Vision for a more attractive rural areas”. Conclusions in Slovak are available here.

The Vision document for increasing the attractiveness of rural areas in Slovakia until 2040 was shaped over three years in a very complex and participatory foresight process within which the definition of rural attractiveness is gradually being developed. The Zero Draft was endorsed by stakeholders and actors at the national Conference in Nitra in December 2021. Since then, four rounds of physical consultations with stakeholders took place. All the comments gathered will now be included in the new Frist Draft version of the Vision document.

The whole process of Vision development kickstarted in September 2020 in the Slovak National Parliament and the outcome of it will be presented again to the parliamentarians in October this year. Right from the beginning, the intention was to enshrine the Vision into the Rural Doctrine in the form of the constitutional law in order to ensure long-term stability, continuity, clarity and a clear strategic direction of the Slovak rural areas, agriculture and the rural economy, and to prepare the fertile ground for a sustainable future for all.

Besides constitutional reform, governance reform also needs to be undertaken hand in hand, in parallel. This is part of the Action plan developed for the implementation of the Vision.

The Monitoring Committee was officially established and the first members were nominated at the June Conference, including one of the former ministers of agriculture. It will start its proceedings in September this year. This could substantially support policymakers and contribute to avoiding constant changes of priorities by each new government and thus maintain the overall strategic direction of agriculture and rural areas in the long term.

Several case studies from different regions were featured. Rural regions have a major impact on addressing current challenges and can contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the European Green Deal by responding to climate change, biodiversity loss and decline; providing measures related to mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, habitats and economic opportunities through sustainable production of food and energy from renewable sources.

In addition to these unique challenges, this period also represents a unique opportunity to reassess current systems and re-orient them towards sustainability and resilience to future possible shocks and shocks.

PoliRural Webinars as a learning support for rural stakeholders

In June and July 2022, PoliRural organised a series of webinars with the intention of promoting key concepts and results to external stakeholders. These webinars serve as a capacity building resource that can be freely consulted by anyone anytime to learn about the PoliRural approach and how it was implemented in practice.

The series covered the main concepts and tools used by the twelve pilot testbeds to advance rural policy objectives at national, regional and sub-regional levels. As well as explaining concepts like foresight, Text Mining (TM), System Dynamics Modeling (SDM), and a mission-oriented approach (MOA), the webinars included case studies of their implementation in different parts of Europe and beyond. By inviting representatives of PoliRural pilots to share their experience, we tried to make theoretical knowledge more relevant and easier to understand, while at the same time illustrating the transferability potential of our framework to new contexts.

Each webinar is a standalone learning resource that provides in-depth insights on a specific topic.

The first webinar introduces basic principles of foresight for rural development and provides a comprehensive overview of the main tasks underpinning the process. The framework’s real-life application is illustrated with case studies from Monaghan, Ireland, and Gevgelija-Strumica, North Macedonia.

The second webinar focuses on a TM tool called Semantic Explorer, or Semex for short. The webinar explains how Semex was built, how it works, as well as its current and future potential based on the experience of the Finnish pilot.

The concept of SDM is outlined in the third webinar, which starts by covering basic assumptions and SDM terms (e.g. positive feedback loop, negative feedback loop) before presenting a model of a generic rural area in Europe built by PoliRural. The generic model served as a template for creating customised, regionally-adapted SDM models for PoliRural pilots, two of which were presented at the event (the region of Central Greece and Apulia in Italy).

In the final webinar, MOA is presented in the context of impending global challenges (e.g. Covid, recession, climate change, biodiversity collapse) that countries are facing. The webinar shows how MOA is reflected in various high-level policies and innovation programmes and how to draft a mission-oriented roadmap that is aligned with EU priorities, such as those reflected in CAP reform and Green Deal. Foresight pilots that illustrate MOA’s application in PoliRural are Slovakia and the region of Galilee in Israel.

If you want to learn more about these topics and case studies, click on the links below to watch webinar recordings at your convenience: