Spreading the Word for Rural Regeneration

UNESCO representative presenting the RURITAGE project during an International Conference, in China (May 2019).

The European Year of Cultural Heritage, which we celebrated in 2018, gave start to many initiatives highlighting the importance of Cultural Heritage for a sustainable future. RURITAGE contributed to many of them and continued this work in 2019. In order to present the RURITAGE paradigm of heritage-led regeneration to policymakers, civil society organisations, practitioners, researches and media, the project team took part in many most important events.

Just a few weeks after its start, RURITAGE participated in the European Cultural Heritage Summit 2018 and joined “Cultural Heritage Connects!” — organised by the ROCK project. During the event, nine other fellow H2020 projects, working also on cultural heritage, explored how to join forces and collaborate in such areas with participatory approaches, social inclusion, new governance models, and new technologies for access.

Further on, the RURITAGE team took part in the European Week of Regions and Cities organised yearly by the European Commission. Our project leader, Simona Tondelli, was invited to join the session of two consequent workshops, “Cultural and creative cities for all” and “Knowledge Exchange Platform”. Mrs Tondelli presented to the high-level panellists and workshop participants the RURITAGE approach to transforming rural areas into sustainable development laboratories, including strategies on the integration of migrants through inclusive initiatives, bringing together both local population and newcomers.

The Fair of European Innovators in Cultural Heritage, which happened on 15-16 November 2018, in Brussels, was the key event of the European Year of Cultural Heritage and brought together around 400 participants, speakers and exhibitors. There Mrs Tondelli exposed RURITAGE’s concept towards resilience at the breakout session “Heritage at Risk – Resilience of cultural landscapes in a changing environment”. Furthermore, RURITAGE also joined the Community of Innovators in Cultural Heritage, that was launched at the Fair, with the aim to collaborate with the diverse actors working on the intersection of cultural heritage and sustainability.

As rural areas are in the heart of RURITAGE project, the team always seeks for linkages with initiatives related to rural-urban synergies. One of such opportunities happened during the event “Fostering the Circular Food Economy through Stronger Rural-Urban Linkages”, on 11 April 2019. Organised within the ROBUST project, co-hosted by ICLEI Europe and the Flemish Land Agency, the meetings were modelled after the well-established Breakfast at Sustainability’s integrative framework. There, RURITAGE contributed to the panel discussion with a talk and a presentation on “Local Food Production to Boost Rural Regeneration”. Its summary can be found in the event report.

Going beyond Europe, RURITAGE travelled to the International Rural Cultural Tourism Industry Conference (photo), held on 15 May 2019, in Luxi, Jiangxi, China. The conference invited experts and scholars from different fields to explore approaches to sustainable rural growth – a topic that attracts a lot of attention in China. The UNESCO team shared with the international audience the RURITAGE approach and clarified how it could inspire the sustainable development of rural areas.

Project leader, Simona Tondelli, during the workshop at  ILUCIDARE Playground event (November 2019)

On 20 November 2019, RURITAGE and the ROCK project led a joint workshop in Brussels (Belgium) that discussed the use of tangible and intangible Cultural Heritage as a driver for growth in both urban and rural areas. The workshop was a part of the Playground event organised by the ILUCIDARE project that will serve as a basis for drawing a European Vision Paper for sustainable regeneration through cultural and natural heritage.