The challenges addressed by European Union (EU) strategies and globally embodied the EU Green Deal require innovative pathways to deliver solution on renewable and clean energy. The Multi Actor Approach (MAA) is proven a pertinent mechanism to trigger, accelerate and sustain research and innovation action. However, a series of EU-funded projects such as the Horizon 2020 project ‘ LIAISON’ (ID: 773418, 2018-2022) outlines lacks and variations in the interpretation of the MAA by both current and potential consortia and governing bodies.
RURALITIES advances the conventional multi actors approach (MMA) and practices via a digitally-enhanced multi-stakeholders engagement framework generated with the combination of a series of methodologies e.g., the ‘Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism’ (F2M) developed by United Nations’ Food Agriculture Organisation, the ‘Maptionnaire Community Engagement Platform’ methodology developed under EU-funded projects ArticHubs and NordicPATH, and the Helix Community Collaboration Intelligence approach proposed by the Crowdhelix network, which is an open innovation network and methodology that structures collaborative intelligence to accelerate impact. Here, the project establishes the ‘RURALITIES Forum’ community of practice which generates the RURALITIES Helix network, also and integrated in the WEFE NEXUS Community of Practice and the agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI).
RURALITIES ensures that innovative approaches to creating value with the project targeted communities, who are undergoing transformational change, are well addressed, and that the project engages many different groups of stakeholders adequately in the process.
RURALITIES is structured to answer to all rural actors needs with almost no exception considering gender or age, economic and non-economic occupations, community setting (cultural background). However, the project aims to engage more specifically vulnerable individuals, among the women and Youth, especially those from under-represented backgrounds. To that end, RURALITIES comprehensively integrates in its activities and results the principles of the European Pillars of Social Rights (considering overly reliant on under-paid, undeclared and precarious workers, exploitative and sub-standard working conditions, etc.). To reach vulnerable rural people, each partner identifies, recruit and assign a group of designated audience outreach volunteers to engage with the targeted group essentially via physical face-to-face events.
RURALITIES develops via co-creating, implementing, monitoring and assessing place-based adaptative, interactive and sustainable Tailored Support Programmes.
The European Commission (EC) proposes a definition of ‘rural innovation’ via a panoply of policies and strategies, for instance ‘Long-term vision for rural areas: for stronger, connected, resilient, prosperous EU rural areas’, aiming at generating an ambitious research and innovation policy framework to position the EU as a leader in innovating with participatory approaches, to achieve more sustainable and resilient societies. RURALITIES integrates the said panorama, combined with other complementary approaches from the pan-European scene to screen and categorise evidence on ‘smart’ and eco-system enhancing rural innovation e.g., use-cases, EU funded projects, local initiatives, etc.
This evidence is arranged in interactive, structured and actionable knowledge which constitute the platform upon which the project’s solutions (measures, technologies, products and services, cooperation mechanisms), are co-created within participatory place-based tailored support programmes in six selected locations (e.g., SIMSES). RURALITIES explores, develops and delivers on the interconnectivity dimension (thus interdependencies) of sustainable solutions and replication processes for rural development.
RURALITIES develops with result-driven steps.
First, the consortium builds the ‘RURALITIES Augmented Knowledge Alliance’ materialised by a community of practice of 10.000+ individuals and experts of RURNex actors worldwide and 1.000+ facilitators, convened by a shared vision and responsibility via Memorandum of Understanding and the ‘RURALITIES observatory’ of rural innovation hosted by a digital platform yet to be identified. To ensure the achievement of this number of individuals and experts, RURALITIES identifies rural people from the project’s SIMSES who are understood as “influential”. The assistance of local recognised and influential individuals (influencers), who can come from a vast number of socio-economic background spanning from community leaders, farmers , entrepreneurs, to mayors or local governing agents, and more globally by all individuals in all targeted SIMSES, is of significant importance to succeed in this engagement. WP-5 main aim is to engage, connect and empower RURNex actors for cooperation and co-creation processes.
Second, the alliance builds an actionable and structured knowledge on the SIMSES realities (specific focus) and the global pan-EU rural scene. Here, the consortium collects intelligence which feeds and drives the production ‘RURALITIES Commons 2050’ Learning Framework’.
Third, a multi actor participative process is implemented for the comprehensive examination of this intelligence and its valorisation via events hosted by living labs. These activities, launch the establishment of the expertise and training centers and the production of the learning framework. It generates a comprehensive set of materials to build competences in the actors of selected SIMSES, highly transferable to other locations, especially in Africa.
Fourth, partners joins efforts with the knowledge alliance to design, plan and demonstrate project-based and system thinking driven mechanisms to significantly shorten the innovation cycle of solutions aimed at addressing targeted needs. These activities are hosted by the expertise centres, where relevant projects triggered by rural people are identified and structured for further development.
Fifth, the knowledge alliance establishes the RURALITIES expertise and training centres on rural innovation until M48 and implement the transcontinental AU-EU campaign ‘Rural Thrive 2050’ animated by role models and ‘replicators’ to give visibility to a set of six (6) RURALITIES ‘Petition the EU’ triggered by each of the project’s SIMSES.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation program under grant agreement no 101060876.