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Newsletter #2

April 2020

Rural Renaissance (RUR) projects work together to deliver bigger impact

At the Coordinators’ Day in Brussels on 6th June 2019, the representatives of the Research Executive Agency (REA) and DG Agri invited all new Horizon 2020 projects within the Rural Renaissance (RUR) cluster to work closely together and deliver a bigger impact of their efforts. The European Commission and DG Agri have been asking for more evidence about issues and developments in European regions and have been seeking better tools and methodologies for foresight in rural development.

PoliRural, Sherpa, Ruralization and Desira have followed the call and agreed on working together during the next few years. The projects jointly identified common synergies, overlaps and potential areas of collaboration at a meeting in Brussels on 9th January 2020. As a result, an Action Plan was produced for the year 2020 that will be further updated and extended.

The PoliRural Coordinator will exchange information between all task leaders in the other projects, consult the content and exchange deliverables. PoliRural will also share information on the foresight methodology. Since all four projects will work extensively with multiple stakeholders in various regions across Europe, we will attempt to coordinate the activities and will organise several joint meetings. Since PoliRural has been building an original text mining software and Digital Innovation Hub for researchers, data analysts and communities, we will share our best practices within the RUR projects. PoliRural will be hosting a RUR projects event at the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague on 16-17 September 2020, which will be a great opportunity for our colleagues from the projects, REA and DG Agri to meet and work together.

Miloš Ulman
Technical Manager, Česká zemědělská univerzita v Praze

Stakeholders from all 12 pilot areas show interest to get on board with the PoliRural project actions

Policy makers, experts, farmers, rural dwellers and new entrants are main target groups in each partner pilot region defined as regional panel members. The regional panel and the expertise of its members will play an important role in implementing the PoliRural project and contribute to the development of rural policy. The first talks and meetings with potential regional panel members (further – stakeholders) showed noticeable features in pilot regions. In general, addressed stakeholders are interested in the project itself and its results. Also, the opportunity to be involved in the local community is one of the main aspects of willingness to take part in project as regional panel member.

Each pilot region has chosen the most appropriate approach to set up a regional panel and ensure efficient collaboration. For example, in pilot region in Greece all partners applied a comprehensive strategy for effective communication of the project’s objectives and results to regional stakeholders. This strategy includes meetings and personal contacts in order to provide a general insight regarding the goals, the implementation, the perspectives, and the impact of the project.

Every pilot will be surrounded with a community of stakeholders whose input will be required several times during the project to ensure efficient access to knowledge whenever it is needed. PoliRural project partner Vidzeme Planning Region, Latvia, prepared methodology for stakeholder mapping and regional panel setup. The mapping was undertaken in each region with help of regional partners and associations, coordinated by pilot regions leaders.

Baiba Šelkovska
Communication Manager, Vidzeme Planning Region

North Macedonian PoliRural Pilot

The rural areas in the North Macedonia are of crucial importance for the overall economic and social life in the country.

The economies of agriculture as main business sector are still one of the main contributors of the annual economic growth and the national GDP. The Gross Added Value in agriculture in 2017 was 44,9 billion denars (665 million EUR). Besides the economic importance, rural areas in North Macedonia provide a living space for 44% of the total population of 2,02 million people. Considering these key parameters, it can be concluded that development of efficient and effective rural policy is of essential importance for the overall development of the country.

The process of development of rural policy in North Macedonia is mainly done by the Ministry of Agriculture with continued support from other stakeholders such as the NGO sector, experts and the academia. Since the independence of North Macedonia in 1991, there has been significant effort from the Ministry as well as external financial and technical support in the process of development of rural policies. Unfortunately, these policies have not achieved the expected results and the effects are isolated.

A key stakeholder that can change this situation is the so-called Extension Services which in the case of North Macedonia is consisted of the National Extension Agency (NEA) which is a formally recognized organizational form that delivers extension support for the rural population and rural business. Recognizing the extension support as crucial stakeholder and successful reforms within this system are important horizontal policy measures that can deliver multiple effects across the socio-economic life in the rural areas. The project PoliRural from the EC H2020 Program presents a valuable multi-stakeholder and multinational effort that can contribute into developing well-structured and reliable rural policy for North Macedonia.

Blagoja Mukanov,
Executive Director, Ag Futura Technologii Dooel Skopje

Combining Text Mining and System Dynamics Modelling in Polirural

Text Mining (TM) uses complex algorithms and cutting-edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to detect patterns in vast amounts of text. Natural Language Processing (NLP) literally transforms text into numbers so that computing power can analyse data for us.

Thus, it is possible to analyse the information available online, such as scientific papers, immense libraries and archives, social media, etc. TM can for example evaluate the sentiments of discussions in social media regarding a certain policy; summarize long texts; understand and group vast quantities of data by clustering it; find patterns and dependencies; categorize text by locations and/or by topic, etc. Results can be presented graphically to amplify the visual impact and “create new knowledge” (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Visualising Tweets related to Coronavirus – Design by KAJO S.R.O.

If Text Mining can help identifying significant parameters of change the System Dynamic Modelling (SDM) can help understand the ways in which they interact, thus creating behaviours over time. Then policy intervention and community action may be designed and their effects tested on the built models. The innovative approach in Polirural consists of experimenting the benefits of TM in combination with SDM and Foresight to analyse more in-depth the current situation and evaluate the challenges ahead in 12 European representative Pilots. The iterative nature of System Dynamics drove developers to design a dynamic system with a series of structured TM functions, blending together some of the solutions for enhancing the overall functionalities. The ambition is to create a system that can support policymakers by using the massive amount of information available on the Internet thanks to TM for simulating the possible impacts of policies through SDM.

Tommaso Sabbatini, KAJO

 

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

 

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