The project ‘Climate smart, ecosystem-enhancing and knowledge-based rural expertise and training centres’ (RURALITIES) delivers an ecosystem-enhancing and climate action driven expertise and learning framework organised in hubs e.g. the ‘RURALITIES’, comprising a series of innovative methodologies with the learner at its core, supported by a comprehensive network of living labs, and a blockchain-based digital platform combining the Internet and wireless technologies, to assist engage, connect and empower actors.
All-in-all, RURALITIES creates an enables resources to empower rural people and agents of change in six selected Simplified Rural Socio-Ecological Systems (SIMSES) and assist in the exploitation of innovative knowledge and technologies for the benefit of rural communities.
RURALITIES is a first-of-its kind pan-African setting in the Horizon Europe Programme, interlinking the rural spheres of Africa and the European Union (EU).
The project develops on the specific contribution of all fellow partners from Africa e.g., Burkina Faso Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia, 18 partners in total.
RURALITIES aims at playing a structural role in contributing to the current Africa-EU partnership, which is designed to build on this historical relationship, and to create a framework for deeper dialogues between the two regions in a vast panoply of fields, such as rural development.
RURALITIES enables the EU and Africa engage in regular developments with a focus on the project’s capacity building programme, embodied by ‘RURALITIES Commons 2050 Learning Framework’ (RURCOM), a solution-oriented programme to guide rural community-led empowerment along all the steps of the innovation process, also considering existing initiatives that struggle with problems or simply need revitalization
RURALITIES implements a whole ecosystem-based, knowledge-based a social sciences and humanities overarching methodology to deliver a multi-points expertise and learning framework supported by a network of RURNex actors and facilities which enable the effective capacity building of rural communities towards ensuring the sustainable, balanced and inclusive development of simplified socio-ecological systems (SIMSES), and simultaneously contribute to raise rural communities’ awareness on the variety of source-points driving climate change challenges and the related pathways to overcome or mitigate them.
RURALITIES generate and implement a network of rural expertise and training centres’ organised in hubs, knowledge alliance driven by a series of current concept encompassing smart-villages, eco-villages to name but these two, supported by a community of practice, a digital collaborative platform, a citizen-led network of living labs and a citizen science sensing monitoring framework.
RURALITIES proposes to ideate, implement, futureproof, validate and deliver a panoply of expertise and learning centres via real-scale and project-based activities in six ‘Simplified Rural Socio-ecological Systems’ (SIMSES) as shown in the figure A. The SIMSES serve as a platform upon which the project develops a series of local place-based Innovation and Demonstration Frameworks (IDF) which are projects identified by the consortium and arranged as “demonstrators”: in the region of Marche and Veneto, both in Italy, in Scotland part of the United Kingdom, in the region of Posavje in Slovenia, the region of Asturias in Spain, and in the region of Iaşi in Romania.
The project RURALITIES coordinates identified actions of local, regional authorities in supports of rural innovation in regions and economic sectors where rural innovators are not yet engaged in a relevant network. RURALITIES coordinates identified SIMSES networks promoting rural innovation solutions whilst establishing innovative multipoints ‘RURALITIES Hubs’ of expertise and training on rural innovation, shown in figure B.
This is done via coordinating action for the managing authorities and regional bodies of the said SIMSES who are influential to regional and national policy instruments: in Italy Montefeltro Sviluppo Società Consortile a Responsabilità Limitata (Marche) and Montagna Vicentina Societa Cooperativa (Veneto), in Scotland the Highlands And Islands Transport Partnership, in Slovenia Regionalna razvojna agencija Posavje, in Spain Asociación Red Asturiana de Desarrollo Rural and in Romania Asociatia Grupul De Actiune Locala Siret-Moldova.
To achieve its ambitious objectives, RURALITIES assembles, establishes or co-creates a vast panoply of resources, including human resources:
the RURALITIES Observatory on rural innovation also hosted by a digital platform yet to be identified, and linked to a vast panoply for European Union’s based platforms such as
the ‘RURALITIES FAST-TRACK’ innovation management programme which aims to shorten the innovation cycle; This is done via empowering the actors of the SIMSES and adjusting a ‘System Thinking’ methodology built upon key findings from a variety of disciplines, products and services development models, and Citizen Science mechanisms, to mention but these few
RURALITIES serious game which aims to enhance rural people’s perception on rural innovation through a game-based awareness-raising and capacity building education process
the ‘RURALITIES Commons 2050 Learning Framework’ (RURCOM), a solution-oriented programme to guide rural community-led empowerment along all the steps of the innovation process, also considering existing initiatives that struggle with problems or simply need revitalization
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation program under grant agreement no 101060876. UK participants in Horizon Europe Project RURALITIES are supported by UKRI grant numbers: 10051963 The Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership and 10050988 Earthwatch Europe.