Kick-off Horizon 2020 project ROBUST

Recently a Horizon 2020 grant of € 6 million was awarded for a project entitled ‘Rural-Urban Outlooks: Unlocking Synergies’ (ROBUST). ROBUST has started on the 1st of June 2017 and is coordinated by Han Wiskerke of the Rural Sociology Group.

The overall goal of ROBUST is to a) advance our understanding of the interactions and dependencies between rural, peri-urban and urban areas, and b) identify and promote policies, governance models and practices that foster mutually beneficial relations.

The project focusses on five domains of urban-rural relations & interdependencies: 1) New businesses and labour markets; 2) Public infrastructures and social services; 3) Sustainable food systems, 4) Cultural connections, and 5) Ecosystem services. These domains will be studied in 11 place-based living labs: Ede (Netherlands), Tukums (Latvia), Helsinki (Finland), Mid-Wales (UK), Gloucestershire (UK), Frankfurt-Rhein-Main metropole (Germany), Ljubljana Urban Region (Slovenia), Styria (Austria), Valencia (Spain), Province of Lucca (Italy) and Lisbon and Tagus Valley Region (Portugal). Each Living Labs will focus on three domains of urban-rural relations. Domain-specific lessons and experiences will be shared across Living Labs in thematic Communities of Practice (five in total, each covering one of the aforementioned domains of urban-rural relations).

In each Living Lab a research organisation (university, research institute or consultancy firm) will collaborate with a local or regional authority. For the Dutch case the Rural Sociology Group will collaborate with Ede Municipality. In total the ROBUST consortium consists of 24 partners: 11 research organisations, 11 local or regional authorities and two umbrella organisations: the Peri-Urban Regions Platform Europe (PURPLE) and the European Secretariat of the International Network of Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI Europe).

The kick-off meeting will take place on 7, 8 and 9 June in the Akoesticum in Ede. The website of the project is expected to be ready by September 2017. For more information about ROBUST, please contact one of the members of the RSO ROBUST team: Han Wiskerke, Henk Oostindie, Rudolf van Broekhuizen, Jessica Duncan and Bettina Bock.

Possible Thesis Topics: Trends in Global Food Security Governance

We are looking for good and motivated BSc and MSc students to conduct research on the following four topics:

  • Deconstructing the discourse of evidence-based policy making.

Project: Calls for evidence-based policy making are increasing evident in global food security policy processes, and beyond. For example, the follow up and review process for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to be “rigorous and based on evidence, informed by country-led evaluations and data which is high-quality, accessible, timely, reliable and disaggregated” (UN General Assembly, 2015, para. 74). Behind this push for evidence-based decision making lies a set of highly political questions about what evidence is considered appropriate? How should it be selected? Why? And by whom?

This thesis project will identify and analyse calls for evidence-based policy making made in food security policy processes at the multinational level so as to better understand the political nature of evidence and the implications this has for policies and claims to knowledge and expertise. Continue reading

Localizing Urban Food Strategies – Farming cities and performing rurality: call for abstracts for the 7th AESOP Sustainable Food Planning Conference

The 7th Aesop Sustainable Food Planning (SFP) Conference entitled “Localizing Urban Food Strategies: Farming cities and performing rurality” will take place in Torino (Italiy) from 7 to 9 October 2015.

Localizing urban food strategies refers to embedding sustainable food planning issues in place and in time within each specific local context. Moreover, by targeting planners, agronomists, designers, geographers, administrators, activists etc. engaged in the urban food debate, Farming cities and performing rurality aims at representing a platform for the development of fruitful perspectives for sustainable food planning policies and practices.

On the one hand, Farming cities refers to the development of innovative roles for agricultural production in and around the city, approaching in a structural manner the way agricultural issues are dealt (or should be dealt) with in contemporary urban policies. On the other hand, Performing rurality considers urban food strategies as a tool to define a cooperating relationship between the urban and the rural, reversing in terms of equality the traditional ideological subordination of the countryside to the city.

The activities of the Conference will be articulated around the following tracks: (i) Spatial planning and urban design, (ii) Governance and private entrepreneurship, (iii) Relevant experiences and practices, (iv) Training and jobs, (v) Flows and networks. There will be a specific activity for PhD students and young scholars.

Abstracts for one of the aforementioned tracks can be submitted until the 31st of May via the submission form on the conference website.

Peasants and Politics – free access special issue of the Journal of Pesants Studies

JPS coverThe Journal of Peasant Studies is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2013-14. Volume 1 of JPS was published in October 1973 to September 1974. Part of our series of initiatives to commemorate the anniversary of JPS is the publication of virtual special issues, starting with the 40 Classics in Peasant Studies.

The second in the series is JPS 40: Peasants & Politics. This collection highlights some of the key articles that have been published in the journal over the past four decades on peasant politics.

The articles share one common feature: they all remain extremely relevant, especially in the context of today’s massive, worldwide revival of critical agrarian studies. We hope academics will find the virtual special issue useful in their courses. We hope students of contemporary critical agrarian studies and critical environmental studies, among others, will find it useful in building their theoretical foundations. We hope policy practitioners will find it relevant in informing policy debates. We hope agrarian, food and environmental activists will find it relevant in their political struggles.

Going global and remaining local: challenges of Poland in implementing climate change policies

RUW Foundation and the Rural Sociology Group organized a studytrip to Poland. In a 10 day intensive program different cities and rural areas in Poland were visited, interesting people and organizations met and farm work is done. The theme of the trip is “Glocalise”. Students are asked to prepare themselves well on different themes in groups before leaving and to write a concluding reflexive paper on their impressions and findings, and to write a blog. This is first is posted by:

Caroline Lumosi, MSc-student Forest and Nature Conservation.

The first day saw us spend time learning about nature conservation in Poland. We focussed on climate change policies and agriculture. Poland faces challenges in implementing regional EU climate change policies in relation to implementing its national regulations on energy and economic development. Poland relies on the use of coal to support 90% its electricity. As the EU moves to cut down on its carbon emission, this in turn means focus is put on use of renewable energy sources. For Poland, and in particular the city of Warsaw, this presents a huge challenge as the city heavily relies on the use of coal for electricity, in transport and in household heating. Continue reading

New book – Sustainable Food Planning: Evolving Theory and Practice

Half the world’s population is now urbanised and cities are assuming a larger role in debates about the security and sustainability of the global food system. Hence, planning for sustainable food production and consumption is becoming an increasingly important issue for planners, policymakers, designers, farmers, suppliers, activists, business and scientists alike. The rapid growth of the food planning movement owes much to the unique multi-functional character of food systems. In the wider contexts of global climate change, resource depletion, a burgeoning world population, competing food production systems and diet-related public health concerns, new paradigms for urban and regional planning capable of supporting sustainable and equitable food systems are urgently needed. This book addresses this urgent need. By working at a range of scales and with a variety of practical and theoretical models, this book reviews and elaborates definitions of sustainable food systems, and begins to define ways of achieving them. Four different themes have been defined as entry-points into the discussion of ‘sustainable food planning’. These are (1) urban food governance, (2) integrating health, environment and society, (3) urban agriculture (4) planning and design. Continue reading

Tim Lang – key note speaker Food Film Festival 2012

In an earlier post the Food Film Festival 2012, organized by the Youth Food Movement, was announced. The key note on sustainable food provision by Tim Lang, Professor Food Policy at the  City University London, was one of the higlights. A video of his key note has been uploaded by Gerbrand Oudenaarde at Vimeo (see video below), including a short  review in Dutch. See also Foodlog for a review in Dutch.

Living the peasant way of life in Santa Cruz de la Colina

After a longer posting-pause in which I finalized my first research phase, identifying supporters of rural grassroots development initiatives in the Province of Soto, here a new update of my activities in Colombia:

Time is flying and I am finalizing my second research phase, asking grassroots development initiatives to evaluate the support they are receiving to build joint capacities. To be able to speak with rural development initiatives, I was invited to spend a week with a peasant family in the vereda St. Ana of Santa Cruz de la Colina.

Santa Cruz de la Colina, Matanza, Colombia

Continue reading

DERREG film Westerkwartier

Over the last 3 years, we have been carrying out research in the Westerkwartier concerning global influences on rural regional development.

The Westerkwartier, Groningen Province, The Netherlands

This research was carried out as part of the European project DERREG. The Westerkwartier was involved in two work packages of the project: 1. Investigating arrangements through which public support for joint learning and innovation is provided to development initiatives active in the region (WP4) and 2. Investigating global networking activities among rural businesses in the Westerkwartier (WP1).

In the summer and fall of this year, three film students from the University of Aberystwyth in Wales made their way around Europe to visit all case study areas and to film the present development activities. In the Westerkwartier, the film focuses on our research conducted for WP4 (joint learning and innovation). In this film, several supporters as well as the beneficiaries were interviewed. Their stories describe the development activities in the Westerkwartier very lively and give a feeling of the enthusiastic and motivated engagement of the denizens in developing their Westerkwartier. The film is available on YouTube and can be viewed here. Enjoy!

‘Agriculture in an Urbanizing Society’ Conference – new deadline for submission of abstracts

As mentioned in previous posts, an international conference entitled ‘Agriculture in an Urbanizing Society’ will be held from 1 to 4 April 2012 in Wageningen. A whole range of different topics and research findings will be presented and discussed in 20 different working groups. The deadline for submitting abstracts was originally 20 December 2011 but the conference committees, in consultation with the working group convenors, have decided to postpone this deadline by one month. So if you are interested to present and discuss your research activities (or plans) in one of the working groups, please send your abstract to the convenor of the working group before 20 January 2012. You are kindly requested to use the abstract submission form.