As PoliRural draws to a close, it must grapple with one of the most difficult questions in EU projects: how to ensure long-term sustainability? There are different ways to define sustainability. We see it as post-project existence of PoliRural ideas, deliverables and know-how that immediate beneficiaries and the wider public use to achieve their goals. Some of them can be commercial, some policy related. Some may be technical, some scientific or societal. The nature of the exploitation is not so important. What matters is that results are continuously exploited by stakeholders for their own benefit, to help others, or both.
PoliRural’s main results are
- A network of 500 stakeholders that have provided strong participatory foundation to the innovative foresight framework piloted in 12 regions;
- A foresight package outlining, for each region 1) a vision, 2) a set of measures that need to be implemented to make rural areas stronger, resilient, better connected, and prosperous, and 3) a roadmap for implementing these measures;
- A suit of technical tools designed to support regional pilots with different foresight tasks e.g. exploring the impact of proposed measures on regional performance (Policy Options Explorer) and rural attractiveness (Rural Attractiveness Explorer), creating summaries of reading lists and extracting insightful information from them e.g. context, emotions (Semantic Explorer);
- A collection of reports, guidance documents and methodological notes that capture results of our work, as well as recommendations for others looking to implement regional foresight in a new geographic/thematic context.
In keeping with the principle of open science, we have made all our written outputs available on the project website. These include both official reports and internal deliverables like deep-dive guides on Covid-19, CAP reform, and Green Deal, that users are free to adapt to explore these and other challenges facing their region e.g., energy crisis, cost-of-living crisis, geopolitical crisis. Our approach to regional foresight and the role of different tools in the process is elaborated in a webinar series that are available on our YouTube channel, as well as the PoliRural Digital Innovation which includes links to POE, RAE and Semex.
After several iterations, the foresight package (summarized in D6.2 Regional Action Plans) is now undergoing a process of adoption, facilitated by high-level meetings with policy actors e.g. the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Slovakia, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy in North Macedonia. To ensure that proposed measures get implemented, PoliRural pilots have set up monitoring committees. These are composed of members of the regional stakeholder panel, who will oversee implementation of the plan, thus ensuring continuation of PoliRural results post-project.