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A New Vision for Rural Areas: ROBUST Takes Part in Rural Vision Week
Mon 12 Apr 2021
A new vision for the future of rural areas in the EU is underway, spurred onward by ENRD’s recent Rural Vision Week. ROBUST partners took part in this lively exchange of ideas, providing insights into rural-urban partnerships and resilience-building practices for rural communities.
In a workshop called “Strong and Dynamic Rural-urban Partnerships,” ROBUST project coordinator Han Wiskerke outlined five “building blocks” for the Rural Vision, many of which overlap with ROBUST Communities of Practice: 1) Availability, access, and quality of social services; 2) Social and spatial proximity relations; 3) Circularity (circular economy); 4) Culture and heritage; and 5) Ecosystem services. Then, ROBUST partners Lara Sibbing, Hilkka Vihinen, Kerstin Hausegger-Nestelberger, and Maria Partidario spoke to various themes, including the importance of managing and adapting to growing multilocality, food systems, ecosystem services, and mobility. In a time of great change for rural areas, the conversation reinforced the need to improve the ways that rural communities provide for the well-being of residents, protect the environment, and strengthen local economies.
ROBUST partner Bettina Bock led a breakout session in another Rural Vision Week workshop, titled “Diverse and Resilient Rural Areas.” The conversation focused on social, economic, and environmental risks in rural areas, including issues like lack of access to services and resources, aging populations, and depopulation. Speakers emphasized the importance of diversified local economies, better connections within and between communities, and meaningful movement toward enhanced social inclusion; all elements of a more sustainable future for rural areas.
Rural Vision Week shared various valuable perspectives on governance, placing livability at the center and bringing renewed attention to the value and importance of rural areas — especially urgent in a time when COVID has resulted in rapid demographic changes in these communities. Luckily, a plan to support and recognize the contributions of rural communities is coming together.