ROBUST Living Labs held regional workshops on cross-sectoral interactions

Fri 06 Dec 2019

ROBUST held a series of regional workshops focused on cross-sectoral interactions and their role in improving rural-urban relations. The workshops took place in project Living Labs in September – October 2019. (Read more about specific workshops in the Labs’ Live Cases.)

The regional workshop in Lucca opened the series. It took place on 26 September and brought together 35 stakeholders from municipal governments, agri-food initiatives and networks. These diverse actors working  got together to talk about existing initiatives in the province of Lucca that aim to link rural and urban areas around food, culture and environment, as well as to discuss challenges they are facing and possible ways forward.

Luca Menesini, president of the Province of Lucca, opened the meeting emphasising the importance of the ROBUST project for the local economy while also stressing the environmental perspective.

Francesca Galli then introduced the ROBUST project and its five Communities of Practice, or thematic areas to stimulate more beneficial rural-urban relations. The ROBUST Living Lab in Lucca focuses on three of them: sustainable food systems, ecosystem services, and cultural connections.

In the followed group discussion, stakeholders identified several challenges to better linking rural and urban areas. Particularly, they are insufficient access to land and water, and limited knowledge of opportunities within the existing laws – both expressed by farmers from the province. Another identified issue concerns ‘neighbouring relations’ between farms and residential areas.

Overall, the workshop participants underscored the great potential of citizen engagement for stronger rural-urban connections. In particular, cultural activities related to food (e.g. ‘la disfida della zuppa’) were recognised as very effective in mobilising citizens. However, stakeholders expressed that the schedule and location of such events should be better communicated to citizens.

Francesca Galli, senior researcher from the University of Pisa, concluded the workshop saying that “local food policy is challenged to develop appropriate governance. One of the reasons is that it currently lacks connections with comparable experiences from other localities. The good news is, however, that public engagement is strong as well as a political will!”

Photo: (c) Marina Knickel

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News about Rural-Urban Europe and the ROBUST project is published regularly in the INFORMED CITIES newsletter.

ROBUST is a European research project involving 24 partners from 11 countries. ROBUST receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727988.

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