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Newsletter #8

June 2021

Lessons learned from PoliRural: new entrants in the Apulia pilot

The Apulia pilot aims to increase the attractiveness of the region by identifying policies and actions favourable to the development of existing farms and by encouraging the creation of new farms in rural areas. The action on the production system will concern the promotion of the introduction of new products and services related to the circular and digital economy that encourage new employment, especially for the younger population groups.

One of the activities executed to achieve this great goal was the research and analysis of new entrants. In the case of the Apulian pilot, six new realities have been collected. All of these are present in The Best Practices Atlas of the PoliRural project. For the collection of these realities, Confagricoltura and the Murgià LAG interacted, via telephone and email, with various stakeholders in the area. Once it had a positive opinion in taking part in the project, Innovagritech proceeded to accomplish the telephone interview.

One of the most interesting cases was the new entrant Vincenzo Signoriello. Compared to the others, he has the particularity of dealing with consultancy for local animation, management of the co-working space, community management, socio-political and corporate collaboration, as an expert for the reporting and monitoring of European projects. In this context, he is monitoring WEB Regional Interventions, a Project Co-financed by the European Community - POR Apulia 2014-2020 FESR-FSE. His activity began about a year ago, but he was already collaborating with the University of Foggia (Department of Economics) and with the LAGs of Apulia for territorial animation projects and transnational cooperation projects.

During the interview, he testified to us that «although initially, it was difficult to establish relationships of trust with the territory, an effective network of partnerships between students, professionals and stakeholders was created, ranging from Capitanata to Salento (from north to south of Apulia)». This new entrant, therefore, reminded us how the creation of networks can be a key factor in improving the attractiveness of Apulia and its rural areas. In the meantime, the Apulian pilot is collaborating with the Apulia Region to discuss, reason and use the first results of the PoliRural project for the next programming and development strategy.

Incoronata Langianese  (Innovagritech)

PoliRural third Foresight Summit


On 25 May 2021 PoliRural held its third foresight summit with members of the regional pilot teams. These events are organised periodically to check where pilots are on their foresight journey, to take stock of progress made and clarify what steps ought to be taken to make each foresight initiative a success.

The summit is not another project meeting where attendees discuss formal tasks and deliverables. The summit format was introduced to provide a platform for exchanging ideas and best practices among pilots, who can see what others are doing and learn from their results.

The last summit focused on Deep Dives and Drivers Analysis. The latter is performed to gain a localised understanding of mega-trends driving change globally. Drivers like climate change, digital transformation and urbanisation are taking place in different parts of the world, but they must be interpreted locally so that their real significance is apparent and they don’t get dismissed as someone else’s problem.

Figure 1. The results of Drivers Analysis in North Macedonia.

Deep Dives follow the Drivers Analysis in the Foresight process. Through them, pilots explore a limited number of issues of potential importance to all participating regions, namely the impact of Covid-19, the Green Deal, CAP Reform and Biodiversity.

Figure 2. A slide from the Slovak presentation on deep dives.

All results are captured in the Foresight Compendium, an internal deliverable that will be published at the end of the project and which, in addition to Deep Dives, Drivers Analysis and other findings, will include what is known as the Foresight ‘Package’ consisting of

  • VISION that adequately and usefully describes the region that the beneficiaries would like to live in at some time in the future;
  • ACTION PLAN that lists the measures that must be implemented in order to achieve that vision;
  • ROADMAP that describes the sequencing of those measures, the key indicators, and targets to be achieved as well as the actors in public administration who will have to make sure they happen.

Pavel Kogut (21c Consultancy)

Newcomers in Vidzeme are found with the help of neighbours

In order to prepare experience stories for the Atlas of PoliRural Best Practices, Vidzeme Planning Region and the Latvian Rural Forum announced a campaign in the spring "We are looking for a neighbour who inspires!".

Local communities were invited to nominate new entrants – neighbours who have moved to Vidzeme's countryside or small town and could be an inspiring story for other potential Vidzeme residents. Active new entrants were sought to strengthen the belief that life can also be saturated and busy in the regions. Those who do business work remotely, live in their rural backyard or have brought new ideas and fresh breeze and are living in the local community.

Figure 1. Invitation to participate in the campaign “We are looking for a neighbour who inspires!”.

The campaign gained a lot of support. Altogether 39 applications were received and 32 new entrants were nominated (some of which were notified several times). Welcoming the young neighbours shows that new entrants have been respected and accepted as full members of the local community.

It is obvious that not all new entrants are working in the agricultural sector: they have found a way to be in contact with the outside world and to continue their cases without leaving their rural areas. Often, to move, there was also a change in occupation.

The first interviews have already been conducted and five experience stories have been prepared, read in English in the Atlas of PoliRural Best practices (available here). However, the initiative does not end: by the end of 2021, a brochure will be prepared in Latvian, which will contain stories of all new entrants in Vidzeme.

New entrants to Vidzeme's rural area are one of the priority community groups that are currently under increased attention. Latvia's fields remain empty and action is needed to strengthen not only the population groups that still live but to create a favourable environment for entrants.

Figure 2. Publicity photo (Author: Anita Āboliņa).

Anita Āboliņa (Vidzeme Planning Region)

Lessons learned from PoliRural: Polish pilot recent developments

The Polish pilot covers the Mazowieckie region and is managed by the European Rural Development Network (ERDN) with the support of the local stakeholder Lokalna Grupa Działania “Zielone Sąsiedztwo” (LGD ZS). The general ambition of the pilot is to promote rural areas as a place for living and working for newcomers, considering exploiting the opportunities of urban-rural linkages, as well as changing patterns in food consumption, health awareness and lifestyles.


The Pilot is made up of fantastic people representing various sectors and professions, but above all loving our region and therefore actively and passionately discussing the future of rural areas, small towns and local communities.


During many discussions, emphasis was placed upon the natural resources and clean environment as the strengths of the Mazowieckie region, which may contribute to the development of tourism, as well as entrepreneurship based on these resources. At the same time, many participants pointed out the low awareness of the society in the field of ecology and care for the environment, but also energy inefficient private and public construction having negative impact on the environment and the climate as the possible threats for regional development. However, more and more activities are undertaken by non-governmental organisations to support pro-ecological policy of municipalities included in the Mazowieckie region.


Thus, the proposed course of action is to develop the post-industrial branches of economy, i.e. based on information processing and knowledge application as well as other types of entrepreneurship that do not threaten environment and do not burden neighbours but create social value and income for residents. Such an oriented income-generating activity of the inhabitants, including social services and individual cultural tourism and recreation services, will be fully adjusted to the principles of social co-existence and environmental protection requirements.


Attractiveness of rural areas is strongly associated with quality of life, public services and economic vitality. But it is peoples’ inventiveness, entrepreneurship and sense of community that will be the main enabler of positive change in the local systems.


Aleksandra Paw┼éowska & Paweł Chmieliński (ERDN)

 

Stakeholder Engagement in PoliRural

Stakeholder engagement is a key and critical issue in PoliRural project. PoliRural methodology is being tested in a total of 12 pilots, and a community of interest has been built around each pilot. These communities, also known as stakeholder panels comprise different stakeholders with direct knowledge and experience in each region: public authorities, rural communities, experts and industry, among others.

In pilot regions, stakeholder engagement has been a prominent subject over the last months. In this context, we can highlight the following activities related to stakeholder engagement in each PoliRural pilot:

-  Apulia (Italy): Over the last months, two rounds of face-to-face and online meetings were organized: in both cases the Apulia pilot involved the various stakeholders via calls or emails. The same procedure was followed to involve new entrants in the project. Thanks to these 6 new entrants were involved in the pilot;

- Central Bohemia Region (Czech Republic): Due to Covid-19 restrictions, meetings with partners, experts and policy-makers and engagement of new stakeholders over the last months were provided online and primarily bilaterally. The successful collaboration with Local Action Groups (LAGs) on the regional and even national level was deepened;

- Central Greece (Greece): During the last months, three meetings/workshops were held at 02/02/2021 (14 stakeholders), 04/02/2021 (17 stakeholders) and 14/04/2021 (5 stakeholders) in order to identify the most important challenges and drivers of change in the region, including COVID Deep Dives topic. The results provided input for two articles that were published by national newspaper and the project’s Newsletter. During the last week of May, the pilot partners participated in the virtual presentation of PoliRural project at the local TV channel STAR;

- Flanders (Belgium): During the last months, all meetings took place on-line. The meetings were held with representatives of the Department of Agriculture (government), the Flemish Land Agency, Regional Landscapes (NGO) and the farmers’ Union. These prime PoliRural contacts outreach was organised to have individual and targeted contacts with stakeholders in order to obtain the information needed for the PoliRural project;

-  Galilee (Israel): In this pilot the “Leading Team” that involves delegates from industry, academia, agriculture and citizens, are concentrating on advancing upgrading the regional digitalisation infrastructure for development. Galilee pilot organised a Zoom meeting on 10/3/21 with the Eastern Galilee Cluster of Mayors. The pilot presented to the Cluster of the 18th municipalities the outcomes of the discussions that were held during the PoliRural activities and the pilot plans to present it to the government;

- Gevgelija-Strumica (Macedonia):
Over the last months, AGFT and GGP as supporting partners have conducted two meetings (one physical meeting and one online meeting) with the Regional Panel Group. Main topics that were subject of these two meetings were: Needs analysis, Drivers analysis, Policy challenges and Foresight Deep dives. As a result of Covid-19 restrictions, the team of AGFT and GGP was forced to perform additional one-on-one consultations which was a continuous process of communication with representatives of different stakeholders within the Panel Group on several occasions;


-  Häme (Finland): During the last months, two meetings with stakeholder group were organized on Teams platform which is used by the pilot as a communication platform for the group. In this period Häme pilot focus was on technological tools of the project, especially on System Dynamic Modelling (SDM) which was introduced, and its possibilities with Häme pilot work were discussed widely with the stakeholder group. In addition, the Text Mining tool was introduced to the stakeholders. The vision for the foresight work was also discussed further and refined together with the stakeholders and the work on deep-dives was on-going;

- Mazowieckie (Poland): Over the last months, stakeholder engagement in the Polish pilot was moderate, taking place online among the 7-14 most active members. The LAG, which is the biggest supporter of the pilot, allowed the use of already developed communication channels to reach a wider audience, especially for online surveys, newsletter dissemination and contacts with local authorities. This also allowed work to be carried out during the next escalation of the situation with covid-19 in early spring;

-  Monaghan (Ireland): This pilot has an active Panel of 30 directly relevant people, including 5 rural newcomers, at its core. In addition, emails and surveys have been sent to over 300 targeted stakeholders. After 4 community physical meetings were held initially, most engagement and interactions now are by phone due to the covid-19 pandemic restrictions;

-  Segóbriga (Spain): From the beginning of the project, the role of the LEADER Group was essential for the identification phase of Stakeholders. Firstly, a list of policy makers in the territory was drawn up and since then, the list has been expanded following the "snowball sampling" method, that is, asking people to refer others. In this way, the private sector and other stakeholders have been involved. Activities (3 surveys, 2 face-to-face meetings, 8 online meetings) have also helped to incorporate new stakeholders. When these events are being prepared, the “target audience” for each one of them is analyzed, and as result new incorporations are obtained;

Slovakia Region: In this pilot, inclusive and participatory involvement of stakeholders takes on a regular basis in all stages of the project by various ways: regional panel, kick-off high-level meeting with parliamentarians, 6 workshops with rural actors (7 are planned for September), several surveys, direct contacts, dedicated website with discussion forum and publication of all events, documents and outcomes, consultations with responsible authorities and participation in various national decision-making processes. Recently, the pilot delivered a presentation to over 70 registered participants of the online workshop with the Office of the Plenipotentiary for the Development of the Civil Society with the aim to promote PoliRural participatory processes as a good role model for civil society engagement;

-  Vidzeme (Latvia): During the last months, 2 rounds of VPR working group meetings (~10 in total) about foresight progress and 6 deep dives workshops were organised with external stakeholders, where 336 participants took place. Together with public, online feedback collection more than 2000 ideas, recommendations and suggestions were collected for the pilot. A public campaign was organized to collect new entrant stories, and 39 stories were submitted about 32 new entrants.

 

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

 

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