Researchers at NUI Galway are taking part in a €5.9 million EU project to support rural regeneration and find answers to the specific challenges facing rural communities.
The RURALIZATION project involves partner organisations in 12 European countries that aims to influence policy making on rural regeneration including the The Rural Studies Cluster at NUIG’s Geography department.
Challenges facing rural communities in Ireland and around EU include depopulation, poor development opportunities and the transition from reliance on primary sectors, such as farming and forestry.
RURALIZATION has a stated aim of improving understanding of issues such as access to land, develop strategies for a generational renewal of agriculture and support policy making for tackling these issues.
At NUI Galway, the project is led by Dr Maura Farrell who said that the growth of the EU is being challenged by unbalanced development between rural and urban areas.
“The issue of regenerating rural areas is not new. Innovative solutions exist, but need to be better applied and adapted,” she said, adding that “One size doesn’t fit all.”
“What is unique about this project is that it will find these solutions, assess and develop them with people in rural areas where they are used, and then look at how they can be applied in new contexts.”
“The project also uses innovative methods, assessing the dreams of youth for rural futures, which then feeds into a proposed set of renewed policy options.”
NUIG and Teagasc are the two Irish partners involved in this project which includes 18 organisations around Europe.
It is funded through the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme with a diverse range of participants including universities, research institutes, SMEs and other practitioners such as five members of the Access to Land Network.
As part of this multi-sector approach the research teams will work with farmers, young people, and rural entrepreneurs to get the input of people on the ground who are affecting by this issue.