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Newsletter #3

June 2020

Population and Rural Attractiveness, a Sample System Dynamics Model

Polirural objective number 3 is to “explore the future trajectory of rural development in regions using a hybrid foresight approach (quantitative plus qualitative), taking into account both historic and current situation”.

System Dynamic Modelling (SDM), is going to help in the foresight approach. During the first year of project, a template model has been built (SDM edition 1) as well as some sample models to understand the usefulness of the modelling exercise. We are presenting in this article one of the sample models, specifically dealing with Rural Attractiveness, a central issue in Polirural project. This is not a real model, in the sense that the data running the model are not taken from any local statistics. It is a sample model that considers Rural Attractiveness (RA) as the main factor regulating urban/rural population flows, in both senses (from rural to urban and the other way around).

In the example, Rural Attractiveness is defined by two factors: the perception of natural capital and the relative cost of living (comparing cities and rural areas). Each of these factors has a weight in the final definition of RA, and it can be regulated in the interface. At the same time Rural Attractiveness is affecting three key variables: employment, commuters and migration. An interface has been created on which you can adjust variables and see the results. Find below the meaning and scope of the variables.

Potential Population Ratio Moving: Proportion of potential people willing to leave rural areas. It goes from 0 to 30% of the present rural population.
Rural Attractiveness Threshold to Move: what is the value of Rural Attractiveness at which rural population will decide to move? You can vary the RA threshold from 0 to 0,6.
Potential Population Commuting: Proportion of regional population willing to commute for a given RA value. It goes from 0 to 10% of the total regional population.
Rural Attractiveness Threshold to Commute: what is the value of Rural Attractiveness at which commuters will decide to live in rural areas? Again, you can vary RA threshold from 0 to 0,6.

You can go to the interface in the following link. Think of feasible scenarios and run them to see the results, then extract your own conclusions.

Antoni Oliva Quesada,

Coronavirus vaccine being developed at MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute, Israel

The CEO of MIGAL Galilee Research Institute announced that a new vaccine against a coronavirus, which infects chickens, has brought the MIGAL's scientists a step closer to developing a preparation to protect against COVID-19. A multi-disciplinary team created an Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) vaccine, which has been shown to be effective in pre-clinical trials. The scientists found the bird virus has a similar genetic code to, and infects individuals in the same way, as the deadly new coronavirus in humans. This "increases the likelihood of achieving an effective human vaccine in a very short period of time". The scientists adjusted the IBV vaccine to the virus which causes COVID-19, and are working on meeting safety standards which will enable them to test it "in-vivo," or in living organisms. They hope these steps will "enable the initiation of production of a vaccine to counter the coronavirus epidemic currently spreading throughout the world".

Many media reporters around the world came to the MIGAL Institute in Kiryat Shmona to review the scientific activity at the institute for the development of the coronavirus vaccine. After the broadcast networks in the country extensively covered what was defined as a scientific breakthrough in developing a vaccine for the coronavirus, a foreign correspondent also came. Hundreds of foreign reporters visited MIGAL's research labs at the Tel Hai industrial park to hear about the important discovery that could lead to the creation of a coronavirus vaccine. Journalists from around the world from the US, Germany, China, Russia, France, Australia, Canada, and even an Iranian TV channel based in London interviewed David Zigdon, CEO of the MIGAL - Galilee Research Institute and researchers.

The main idea is to develop industries, based on the research outputs from MIGAL and other institutes in the Galilee, which will remain in the region and develop the conditions for high-level jobs and regional economic development. At its core, the MIGAL's approach to rural development represents a rural policy that is grounded in current rural conditions and opportunities in rural areas. It is widely believed at the Galilee region that the future prosperity of rural regions will be driven by enterprise, innovation, and new technologies, tailored to markets and applied to new and old industries. The economic crisis that erupted with the corona virus epidemic presented a moment to reflect on this, specifically to widespread these approaches with the best potential to enhance future rural development.

Prof. Uri Marchaim,
MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute

PoliRural Innovation Hub

A Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) is a multi-actor ecosystem that supports communities in their digital transformation by providing a broad variety of services from a one-stop shop. PoliRural DIH is a member of the DIH network of the SmartAgriHubs project.

The purpose of the PoliRural Digital Innovation Hub is to design and develop an intelligent innovation center not only for agriculture. This DIH should integrate technology, datasets and libraries in one infrastructure with a complex user-oriented portal in the Web environment. The user portal should provide general principles of the content management framework as well as principles of social space by providing a blog, forum, science shop, wiki pages etc. The DIH should be able to connect end users with developers or researchers to improve the impact of the demo applications or case studies by short-chain feedback from end-users. End users can join larger communities around the DIH to get advice, cooperation potential and access to modern technologies utilization. DIH is open for registration, so everyone can become a regular user and use all supported functionality and tools.

One of the principles is to connect ordinary users with developers and researchers. The second principle is the integration of demo applications, where users, developers and researchers will be able to collaborate, create and test new solutions and experiments.

Currently, this release contains: CMS Liferay with set of Social Tools: science shop, blog post, forum, wiki and library; Maps client; First demo applications; First Pan European Data sets ready for experimentation; Cloud based tools for preparing own analysis and managing own data. The prototype of the DIH is based on a cloud solution where Liferay is providing user portal framework and background for front-end applications while OpenStack provides a back-end environment where many libraries for data analyses, data storage and data publishing are installed.

The Map is one of the central functions of the Hub and is based on HSLayers NG, which extends OpenLayers 4 functionality. HSLayers is built in a modular way which enables the modules to be freely attached and removed as far as the dependencies for each of them are satisfied. PoliRural DIH also provides map based applications: The Best Practices Atlas (BPA) and the Map of regional attractiveness. To access PoliRural Innovation Hub, go to https://hub.polirural.eu/.

Petr Uhlir,
Czech Center for Science and Society

Building Synergies: SHERPA – Rural Science-Society-Policy Interfaces

Polirural is building synergies with many projects that share objectives and have the same investigation and practice areas, such as the project SHERPA – Rural Science-Society-Policy Interfaces. Some main topics about this project are presented below :

SHERPA’s long-term vision for rural areas

Currently the project is developing discussion papers and methodological guidelines for the Multi-Actor Platforms (MAPs) to engage into a dialogue regarding the topic of a long-term vision for rural areas. These will feed into a SHERPA Position Paper on the topic.

The European Commission’s President, Ursula von der Leyen, had expressed her wish to develop an long-term vision for rural areas in the mission letter to EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Janusz Wojciechowski. SHERPA’s contribution, through input from the Multi-Actor Platforms set up across Europe, can be significant in this important step for the EU.

Defining rural areas in Europe

The definition of rural and rurality is a longstanding issue which has been the subject of debates in the scientific literature for a while. To date, rural was not properly defined through its own characteristics, features and patterns, but was rather defined as the opposite of urban. A literature review conducted within SHERPA, shows different types of EU strategies dealing with rural areas. These lead to an attempt to map out a definition for rural áreas.

It is important to note that an EU long-term vision for rural areas should be based upon the overarching objective of well-being in rural áreas.

Rural multi-actor platforms for sustainable engagement

One of the strengths of the Sustainable Hub to Engage in Rural Policies with Actors (SHERPA) is the inclusion of three societal actor groups in rural multi-actor platforms: science, society and policy.

Such science-society-policy interfaces are expressions of a changed understanding of governance in the 21st century. Throughout Europe and the world, there are numerous examples of different multi-actor platform constellations, topics and aims. This implies a real trend towards inclusive, community-based approaches to governance. These interfaces can contribute to, among others, strengthened resilience and economic competitiveness for rural areas. How can we ensure a sustainable engagement within SHERPA?

Read more on the SHERPA blog and access the full document.

Roxana Vilcu,
Communications Officer for SHERPA


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


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