A quick glance at today's rural areas produces a mixed picture. While some represent the most prosperous and well performing regions in the country, others are experiencing depopulation, high levels of poverty, land abandonment and population decline. What is driving these changes? How can rural stakeholders minimise the widening gap between leaders and laggards? Which policies are needed to make rural places and professions more attractive for established populations and recent or potential newcomers? To address these questions, 21c travelled to Madrid where it joined 36 other partners from the PoliRural consortium for a three-day project meeting.
PoliRural was created in response to the need for a more strategic approach to rural development. It is about rural development that encompases the diversity of rural life, places and professions, about decision making that is based on evidence of how current policies are performing and what the impact of new measures might be, about sourcing policy intelligence from a wider range of sources, about making rural policy processes more participatory by giving voice to the concerns of excluded groups e.g. women, migrants, young people, new entrants.
The strategic, forward-looking policy framework is developed to provide a well-rounded understanding of change, of how it is happening in the world, how it will play out in the 12 study areas, and how local/regional policy decisions can leverage it for the benefit of grassroot communities.
PoliRural pilot network comprises 27 organisations from 12 different regions
PoliRural blends quantitative and qualitative foresight approaches with advanced online technologies to create a powerful suite of learning tools for rural stakeholders. The aim is to enable a meaningful conversation about rural systems, including how and why the latter will change over time, what drivers will be most influential, and how to ensure that new policies fully address the needs and challenges of tomorrow (future-proof).
One of the tools in PoliRural's arsenal is Semantic Explorer (Semex). It employs text mining to obtain policy intelligence that may be hard to get using traditional data collection tools, therefore enhancing the validity of research findings with views, thoughts and opinions expressed by a wide range of stakeholders on the internet.
A text mining output showing semantic links in the form of a radial tree
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