Future Oriented Collaborative Policy Development
For Rural Areas and People (PoliRur)
PoliRural is a European research project shared among 38 partners across Europe and 12 pilot areas funded under the Horizon 2020 programme. County Monaghan was chosen to be the pilot area in Ireland and will be facilitated through Monaghan Integrated Development. PoliRural has a simple, if ambitious, objective – to explore how to make rural places and professions more attractive for established rural populations and recent or potential newcomers. The emphasis on more means there is plenty of room for improvement. Indeed, although some rural areas represent the most prosperous and well performing areas in the country, others are experiencing depopulation, demographic ageing, high levels of poverty and land underutilization.

PoliRural was created in response to the need for a more strategic approach to rural development. It is about rural development that encompasses 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 project intends to look specifically at what works and what doesn’t work, why and for whom in relation to existing policies. The project hopes to engage with stakeholders from across the farming industry including policy makers, farming representatives and farmers, those currently farming and potential new farmers, including women and immigrants and other rural stakeholders.

The project will identify challenges and needs faced by the farming sector, such as land underutilization, ageing rural populations, biodiversity, climate change, land leasing and the attractions and challenges posed by rural areas for businesses other than agriculture.

In this way, the PoliRural project hopes to develop focused practical proposals in the county and assess their viability. The outcomes of these proposals will be compiled to help equip decision makers at all levels of government with the information needed to help tackle existing and emerging challenges and shape policies that will affect our rural landscape and the people who live and work in rural areas.
The purpose of the project is to ultimately help make our rural areas more resilient to change. To do this effectively, the project will need to develop a panel of stakeholders who have commitment and a willingness to participate in the collaborative process.

The project starts with an investigation of rural situation, or rurality, in the selected regions by identifying current needs, existing policy measures and stakeholder experiences with these measures (evaluation). This will be achieved by combining traditional survey research with advanced text mining techniques that so far have found little application in rural policy making. Evaluation results will highlight areas for improvement on the basis of which improved measures can be co-developed. That is the aim of design thinking, a task which marks the start of stage two - ‘future outlook.’ Other tasks in this stage (modelling by experts, validation by rural stakeholders) proceed iteratively to deliver insights into the evolution of 12 study regions under the proposed policies, different scenarios and drivers of change.

After that, pilots will enter the third and final stage of the project that is mission oriented innovation. The aim here is to use modelling outcomes to develop region-specific missions that are bold and ambitious but not to the point where they become near impossible to execute. In keeping with the spirit of mission oriented approach, local action plans will be co-created by pilots in close consultation with rural stakeholders to design effective place-based and citizen-centric missions for their areas.

The three pilot phases mentioned above will run from September 2019 until May 2020.
There is no financial gain from participating in the foresight study. The main personal benefit is the opportunity to acquire new knowledge about your region. By taking part in the study, you will help PoliRural to further the understanding of what established rural populations and recent or potential newcomers want and need; whether measures aimed at addressing these needs are adequate; and how the present situation may evolve under different circumstances by 2040. All this evidence will leave rural stakeholders better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead, enabling them to transform current practices in a way that ensures the best possible long-term outcome for rural areas across Europe.

Your main contribution is to provide ideas, opinion and feedback at different pilot stages. This can take the form of a survey, interview, focus group or workshop. Having said that, your participation is completely voluntary. You may choose not to participate and if eventually you do decide to take part, you may withdraw at any time. There is no penalty for rejecting our invitation to participate in PoliRural activities nor is there a penalty for withdrawal.