In 2016 we were active in the preparation of the multi county project ROBUST to bi financed from the HORIZON 2020. The project is to  advance our understanding of the interactions and dependencies between rural, peri-urban and urban areas and to identify and promote policies, governance models and practices that foster mutually beneficial relations. Improved governance arrangements and synergies between rural, peri-urban and urban areas will in turn contribute to Europe’s smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, maximising the creation of rural jobs and value-added.

The project is to

  • co-develop, as a joint endeavour of practice partners, stakeholders and researchers, an analytical framework and set of methodologies and tools for describing and analysing relations along rural–peri-urban–urban trajectories. The related deliverables include a Working paper ‘Conceptualisation of rural-urban relations and synergies’ and the final version of the ‘Action and Policy-oriented Conceptual and Methodological Framework’.
  • better understand how rural–peri-urban–urban relationships, dependencies and inter-actions relate to smart, sustainable and inclusive regional growth in eleven diverse territorial settings. The related deliverables include an in-depth analysis of the connections be-tween more beneficial relations between rural, peri-urban and urban areas, and the creation of value added and job growth, Five Thematic Workshops on ‘Cross-sectoral interactions and synergies’ and 11 Regional Workshops on ‘Rural-Urban Synergy Webs’, each with 25 participants, plus a Synthesis Report ‘Cross-sectoral cooperation and synergies’.
  • assess the potentials and bottlenecks for enhancing mutually beneficial relations in eleven diverse territorial settings. The related deliverables include five summary reports with the results of the analysis of functional relations and 11 Scenario Workshops ‘Enhancing synergies in spatial development’, each with 25 participants (D5.2).
  • identify successful governance models, tools and processes that support mutually beneficial rural–peri-urban–urban relationships and opportunities for cross-sectoral cooperation. The related deliverables include five Thematic Workshops ‘Effective governance’, each with 10-15 participants.
  • evaluate the impact of better managed relationships on smart, sustainable and inclusive regional growth through a combination of qualitative, discursive and quantitative methods, and participatory scenario analysis. The related deliverables include 11 Scenario Work-shops ‘Enhancing synergies in spatial development’.
  • contribute to a wider application of successful governance models and tools through co-learning, the elaboration of communication and training materials, and a set of best-practice examples that illustrate the role and function of conducive governance arrangements. The related deliverables include a European-level workshop ‘Transferability and replicability of governance arrangements’ with 30-40 participants and communication and training materials that we have the capacity to deliver to at least 5.000 public sector decision-makers.
  • and to develop, contextualise and share a set of differentiated policy recommendations aimed at enhancing the uptake and continuous development of successful governance models at EU, national, regional and municipal levels. The related deliverables include a set of five ‘Policy and Governance Thematic Topic Papers on Rural-Urban Cooperation’ that will be elaborated and distributed through existing EU level channels, the project website and two European-level Stakeholder Dialogues Breakfasts in Brussels with approx. 25 participants.

Project coordinates partners from the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Latvia, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Slovenia, Finland, Portugal and Italy. It will be interesting so keep following news on this and other information sources in 2017. More on the project can be found at link.