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Thinking beyond the COVID-19 crisis: heritage-based opportunities for rural regeneration

How can the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic be turned into opportunities for sustainable rural growth and regeneration? Learn more about our vision for rural futures!

At the end of October, RURITAGE published the European Vision paper Thinking beyond the COVID-19 crisis: heritage-based opportunities for rural regeneration

Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck Europe at the beginning 2020 it has, and still is, causing extensive challenges towards rural areas and their communities. Worsened by low available financial resources, inaccessible health services and greater isolation issues, rural inhabitants all over Europe are suffering great challenges. At the same time, rural areas have also been considered refuges for better living conditions during the pandemic as they often ease social distance and access to nature as well as to cultural and nature-based recreation activities. In this regard, the COVID-19 pandemic reveals the crucial role of natural and cultural heritage for social cohesion, local development and mental wellbeing. With this in mind, the project aimed to understand the main threats the current crisis is posing to rural areas, but also how these challenges can be turned into opportunities for rural development and regeneration in the future. Insights and recommendations have been summarized in this European Vision paper.

The RURITAGE Vision paper is built upon the RURITAGE methodology, that uses cultural and natural heritage as a driver for rural regeneration by promoting a transversal and holistic approach through six identified Systemic Innovation Areas (Pilgrimage, Local Food Production, Art and festival, Landscape Management, Migration and Resilience). With the help of the RURITAGE SIAs, the paper summarizes how challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in rural areas can be turned into opportunities for sustainable growth in the future. The major conclusions of the Vision paper are recommendations focusing on six capitals (natural, cultural, social, human, built, and financial), where three overarching areas of action with 8 recommendations were identified that are applicable at EU, national/regional and local level.

In sum, the RURITAGE vision paper aims to stimulate the discussion on rural futures, while aiming to contribute to an open-minded, and thoughtful discussion for the sustainable development of rural communities in Europe and beyond. The full vision paper is available among our publications.