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Newsletter #10

November 2021

Lessons learned from PoliRural: new entrant in the Slovakia Region Pilot

The rural economies in the twelve pilots of the PoliRural project are characterized by their own challenges and dynamics. To illustrate the diversity and complexity of the rural economies in the twelve PoliRural pilots, case studies on new entrants and new activities in the twelve PoliRural pilots are gathered. The case studies on new entrants and new activities in the twelve PoliRural pilots are available on the Best Practice Atlas and are interesting examples from practice that are fully of partially transferable to other regions or serve as inspiration for partners in the value chain.

A good example of a new entrant in the Slovakia Region pilot is the one from Jakub Dvorský, and the video from this case study can be visualized here. Jakub’s business idea is grounded in traditions and ancestral heritage enriched with innovative features Jakub introduced: new elements of educational tourism into the village of Lišov.

Lišov Museum (NGO) functions as an innovative community organization providing educational tourism in the small village of Lišov. NGO provides tourist education activities and services in its three buildings. The first is the traditional Lišov folk house called “Lišovská Izba” and represents typical local and regional architectural elements in a room that is decorated in a folk country style. The second is a replica of a Celtic roundhouse, and the third is the Mask Gallery, with a small shop selling handmade products from local artisans, artists, and farmers. Lišov Museum is currently working on the reconstruction of the house from 1887. The original materials such as clay, stone and wood are used for the renovation. It is planned to have a cafe here in the future. The Museum in Lišov actively participates in educational activities financed from the ERASMUS + program and through this grant program several exchange stays were carried out annually. The entrepreneurial strategy of educational tourism combines innovative aspects that interact with expertise in local and regional history and traditions. This main activity is further diversified into services provided directly in the three buildings.

Jakub Dvorský (VIPA SK)

PoliRural Regional Recommendations

PoliRural has developed the Deliverable D1.10. Regional Recommendations, that sets out to help regional teams align their action plans with high-level missions pursued by the EU. It critically examines the concept of mission orientation before turning to the analysis of instruments that drive transition to net zero (the Green Deal), recovery from Covid-19 (Recovery and Resilience Facility), and the development of a new model of agriculture and sustainability (CAP reform, Farm2Fork, biodiversity strategy). It concludes with a set of recommendations linked to the above. Rather than being seen as prescriptive, these recommendations should be regarded as an invitation to explore highlighted issues together with stakeholders in a series of deep-dive workshops, the outcomes of which should guide holistic development of the regional action plan. Below, are presented some conclusions from this Deliverable.

Aligning regional priorities with high-level EU missions

The twelve PoliRural pilots have reached a stage where they need to develop an Action Plan for their region. These Action Plans are documents setting out measures needed to address local challenges and achieve the vision of where the region wants to be in the future. The regional teams must also demonstrate how their Action Plan aligns with high-level EU missions such as transition to net zero, recovery from the pandemic and resilience against future shocks, and the transformation of agriculture based on the principles of fairness and sustainability.

Transition to net zero

The key driver in this area is the European Green Deal. Over the next decades, a lot of jobs will be transformed, many new ones will be created, and some will disappear for good. Industries dependent on fossil fuels have no choice but to evolve while some (e.g., coal mining) are going to be phased out completely. People will be living in more energy-efficient buildings but this will come at a price that some would find unaffordable. All in all, there are lots of uncertainties and risks lurking on the path to carbon neutrality, but the mission also presents many opportunities for cities and regions to negotiate the kind of deal that is good for them and their people.

Recovery from the pandemic

The EU has made sure that recovery from the pandemic is green and digital. Member states are required to allocate at least 37% of the money they get from the Recovery and Resilience Facility to green transition and 20% to digital transition. Although the majority of National Recovery and Resilience Plans have already been assessed by the Commission, it does not mean that regions can do little now to influence how the money will be used. Ultimately, this will be a matter of negotiation. Regions should be proactive in putting forward ideas if they want their communities to get a slice of the pie. This can be done by drawing on the body of knowledge accumulated during the foresight process to make a strong case for investment in their region.

The new model of agriculture

The post-2023 CAP will provide more flexibility to member states to adapt the policy to their specific needs. The foresight approach such as the one practiced in PoliRural can support regions in formulating arguments that can be put forward to national governments as they figure out a way to align CAP with EU and regional priorities. The cascade process is far from straightforward. It is essential to involve CAP experts who can explain the logic of the reform and highlight what has changed and the opportunity that this has created for the reinvention of agriculture and the direction that this is taking in each region. Areas that require special attention are the new conditionalities (e.g., for redistribution, soil protection, biodiversity), the social dimension, the issue of fairness centered around farmers’ income, and the possible negative consequences of the decarbonisation agenda, such as lower yields, reduced crop quality, and threats to farmers’ livelihoods.

Pavel Kogut (21c Consultancy)

Guide to Deep Dives on the regional impact of COVID 19

In PoliRural Newsletter #1, the use of strategic Foresight by regions as part of their policy development process was introduced. In Newsletter #7, one of the tools provided by the project to the leadership teams of the 12 regional Foresight exercises to support their work with local stakeholders was presented. Namely, the ‘STEEPV Inventory of Drivers of Change.’ This inventory was intended to help the leaders of regional Foresight initiatives more thoroughly prepare for a Drivers’ Analysis exercise, that would serve as an input to the development of a vision for the future development of the region, and the identification of challenges that must be addressed to achieve that vision.

In this article another one of those tools is introduced, the ‘Guide to Deep Dives on the Regional Impact of COVID 19.’ The ‘Deep Dive’ is one of the standard techniques used in strategy exercises. When used in Foresight, it is employed using a highly participative approach. In the context of the 12 POLIRURAL Foresight exercises, the role of the deep dives is to help a diverse group of stakeholders achieve a much better shared understanding of the challenges to be addressed to achieve the emerging ‘vision’ for regional growth and development. As is the case for all kinds of group work, a good result depends on good preparation. Without adequate preparation the ‘deep’ dive will go very deep into the issue, no one will learn anything new, no insights will be created, and the final output is unlikely to yield more than general observations or have a significant impact on the action plan and roadmap.

Arguably, the most significant challenge that every region must now face, is to recover from the disruption caused by COVID 19, learn whatever ‘lessons’ it has to provide, and ensure that the region will be better prepared for the next major disruption. To underline this last point, the guide makes reference the fact that climate change, a growing world population and pressure on natural resources, have created conditions for the emergence of pandemics, affecting not only human populations but populations of plants, animals, insects, and fish on which we depend for food. However, these are not the only disruptions that rural regions may need to prepare for.

The illustration above is borrowed from UNILEVER’s strategic response to the pandemic. It summarizes a key result of its own strategic reflection on potential future disruptions for which it needs to prepare. The rural regions involved in the POLIRURAL project would be wise to heed the example of UNILEVER and consider how it should prepare for and respond to such crises. A deep dive on the local impact of COVID is a good place for them to do this. It is no accident that other guides in the series will address ‘climate change’ with a focus on the green deal, and ‘biodiversity collapse’ with a guide to deep dives on the new EU biodiversity strategy.

The guide to deep dives on the regional impact of COVID 19 provides relevant background for the exercise and reminds users of how the pandemic accelerated a number of trends that were already well established and underway before the pandemic. Some of these are decidedly positive in the sense that they indicate features that make rural regions attractive to certain groups, indicating trends on which one might build to diversify rural economies and raise the overall level of prosperity.

For the most part, however, the guide consists of detailed methodological notes on how to conduct the dive. It also includes lists of leading questions that can be used to motivate discussions about the impact of COVID, enabling well-informed discussions on what has changed in the regional economy and in the organization of living and working. All of this sets the scene for a discussion on what changes are likely to prove permanent, and on which one can act, and what ones are likely to prove ephemeral.

Some of regions have already carried out their deep dives on the regional impact of COVID, and summaries of the insights gained can be found in the Compendium. This is the first of the series of guides to deep dives.

  • The ‘Guide to Deep Dives on the Regional Impact of COVID19’ can be downloaded here;
  • The latest update of the ‘Compendium of PoliRural Pilots’, with descriptions of intermediate results from each of these initiatives, including results of the COVID deep dives is available here;
  • General information on the 12 Foresight initiatives is available here.

Patrick Crehan (CKA)

PoliRural participation in the RURALIZATION mid-term Conference

On the 8th and 9th of November, the RURALIZATION mid-term Conference was held in person at Budapest, and online. RURALIZATION is a H2020 project focused on assessing and developing novels instruments, strategies and policies for rural regeneration and generational renewal. Mid-term Conference revolved around the central theme of bridging the EU level with local level practices, and three discussion subjects were developed: rural research, rural generations, and policymaking for rural areas.

RURALIZATION’s focus in the foresight exercise is especially on the future dreams of rural youth, facilitating rural newcomers, farm succession, new entrants into farming and access to farmland.

PoliRural was invited to the participate in a round table on the 8th of November, together with the H2020 funded projects SHERPA, RURITAGE, NEWBIE, DESIRA, and MOVING. 22SISTEMA presented PoliRural, focusing on the System Dynamic Modelling tool to understand the dynamics taking place in the rural ecosystem and thus support the foresight exercise.

After every project was presented, the discussion developed around the following questions: what specific opportunities can support new generations (newcomers, young people, new entrants into farming, etc.) in rural areas? What are the barriers rural research has identified inhibiting the realisation of these opportunities? What are the research gaps we need to address to help realise these opportunities?

The event served to get an insight into other H2020 projects covering rural development from different perspectives and laid the groundwork for future collaborations.

Antoni Oliva Quesada (22SISTEMA)

Building Synergies: MOVING

MOVING (MOuntain Valorisation through INterconnectedness and Green growth) is a Horizon 2020 project that started in September 2020 and will last until the end of August 2024. It aims to build capacities and co-develop policy frameworks across Europe for the establishment of new or upgraded and upscaled Value Chains (VCs), contributing to resilience and sustainability of mountain areas, valorising local assets, and delivering private and public goods.

A core feature of the project is the Community of Practice (CoP). The MOVING CoP is understood as a European-wide Science-Society-Policy interface to engage different stakeholders around resilience to climate change, and other threats, of mountain value chains.

MOVING connects research, policy and society through 23 Regional Multi-Actor Platforms (MAPs) and one EU Multi-Actor Platform. These are the core forum for two-way exchanges of ideas for co-learning and co-creating knowledge with actors at European and regional levels.

The project follows a participatory methodological approach where the necessary knowledge and data is co-created with the different actors through the MAPs.

The EU MAP offers an open space to stakeholders that are interested to exchange, learn and interact in English at the EU level. Its objectives are (i) to contribute to key MOVING deliverables; (ii) to support peer-to-peer exchanges on additional topics and (iii) to create a long-lasting community that can continue after the project ends.

The expression of interest to join the EU MAP will be available before the end of the year. In addition, the first EU MAP webinar on Mountain Value Chains: heterogeneity and innovation will take place on 16 December 2021.

Blanca Casares Guillén (MOVING)


This project has received funding from European Union’s Horizon H2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 818496.


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