RSA Regions in Recovery 2021

SS18. Vitality, vulnerability and versatility of rural societies at the time of cyber and physical threats

Potential Indicators to Assess Vitality, Vulnerability and Versatility of Rural Towns

Marco Hölzel, Technical University of Munich, Germany

Vitality, vulnerability and versatility are important aspects to describe the quality and attractiveness of structures and systems and their resilience to withstands challenges. Towns are complex structures of physical, social and economically dimensions in a legal framework of law, property and contracts and with spatial relations to neighbouring and other municipalities, the region, the state, connected by infrastructure, commerce and relations.

To asses such complex system main indicators have to be identified and a model, with their relation to each other, have to be developed.

Regarding the indicators an indirect approach is needed, assuming no – or only a view – aspects are measurable directly. There are some socio-economic data collected by statistical authorities as demographic date and geospatial data as land-use und topography, available from geodata services. Some data related to mobility are available from transport services and maybe road authorities.

But vitality, vulnerability and versatility are much more. A town is a community of people, who life and work there which belongs to the town, forming relations, networks and ties.

A collection of geospatial data can build a basement for the model. Infrastructure and socio-economic data provide a skeleton of a town. What influence the vitality, vulnerability and versatility of a town are the social, economically and committing relations between people and the basement and skeleton mentioned above. On one hand, to understand this structure and joints with in a town, it seems to be necessary to be a part of the town – to be a part of the community. On the other hand, being a part of a system or community, can make it impossible to keep an uninfluenced view.

Taking all that relations into account, it would require an enormous amount of time to analyse each relation, contract, alliance inwards and outwards. Due to that complexity we need to structure, filter and identify the main and relevant indicators for the vitality, vulnerability and versatility of a rural town.

A definition of vitality, vulnerability and versatility by their origin meaning, for example vitality: alteration, movement of a system – metabolism; vulnerability: trait that can allow a restriction of vitality; versatility: a wide range of characteristics and the ability to change.

Further steps are a comparison of already existing concepts for the assessment of rural towns and identify links to vitality, vulnerability and versatility; gathering and structuring of data; investigation on site to detect relations.

Rurality and Resilience: Notional Bases and Political Meanings. A Scoping Review

Luc Ampleman, Jan Kochanowski University, Poland

In the last two decades, the notion of resilience has been central for social and political scientists, economists and geographers, among other scholars. At the same time, the notion has also found its resonance within governmental and other institutional officials' discourses. Following the emergence of several crises during that period, would they be ecological, energetic, natural, financial, humanitarian, political or sanitary, the concept of resilience has notably shaped public policies in several ways. Small localities and communities labelled as 'rural' and often seen as vulnerable to socio-economical changes and political stress have certainly been among polities willing to engage with strategies to strengthen their resilience. But which resilience indicators may one consider comparing the vernacular plurality of rural communities. Yet, the indicators to assess the ruralness are themselves far from being universal and prompt to debate.

The present paper undertakes a scoping review of how the notion of resilience and other analogous concepts shape public policies for rural communities and how, in turn, our understanding of rurality also shapes public policy in terms of resilience. The first part identifies some insightful traditional indicators used by different polities and influential institutions to define what 'rurality' before pinpointing some epistemological blind spots and alternative to such indicators. The second part addresses resilience indicators and political initiatives picked up by decision-makers to strengthen rural community response toward their vulnerability. The paper concludes by raising a series of practical questions that can orient the selection of indicators that might be the most valuable and efficient within the framework of the 3VRUT project and for the end-users of the 3VRUT model.

Contemporary Rurality: Resilient Rural Morphologies in Northern Catalonia

Melisa Pesoa, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

Migration from rural to urban areas has intensified in Spain since the mid-1950s: today only 18% of the population lives in non-urban areas. The country has a strong socio-spatial imbalance, given that 82% of the territory is occupied by only 16% of the population. Catalonia, on the other hand, has about 7.7 million inhabitants mostly settled on the Mediterranean coast, where only the Metropolitan Region of Barcelona concentrates 72% of the population.

The aim of this presentation is to build an updated definition of the concept of rurality and rural settlement in the Spanish case and, specifically, in northern Catalonia. We seek to highlight the different situations that the rural environment is currently going through, emphasizing the risks and threats, but also the opportunities they can offer to face future scenarios.

From the study of two municipalities with less than 2000 inhabitants, we develop comparative research that allows us to outline some of the most outstanding features of the type of rurality offered by our study area. The urban development of these municipalities in recent decades has not contributed to an increase in the census population, due to the development of the second home real estate offer and a seasonal economic outsourcing highly dependent on tourism.

Finally, the study of these settlements leads us to emphasize the crisis of the rural-urban dichotomy as a consequence of the hybridization of both habitats and ways of life on a regional scale. In this sense we propose that, beyond the vision from the municipality, a territorial look is absolutely necessary.

Empirical Validation of the Policy Changes During Paradigm Shifts – The Case of two Cities in Japan

Remi Chandran, RESTEC

In the past twenty years, several socio-economic and environmental phenomena such as the global financial crisis, the Tohuku Earthquake and the recent Covid pandemic; have brought out significant paradigm shifts in the rural and urban policy processes in Japan, where the traditional policy making approaches are sometimes incapable of dealing with the changes caused by the socio-economic phenomenon. This calls for facilitating the need for a new approach where past and present policy approaches are validated with the changes in the socio-economic settings.

In our work we propose a contemporary socio-economic change monitoring methodology where geo- spatial technology is combined with socio-economic data to empirically validate the policy changes in two cities in Japan from a period of 2005 to 2020. We then outline how these changes have influenced the policy process and policy change within the national and local context and the need for an evidence-based policy approach to address future paradigm shifts.