LDnet and RSA have been exploring the idea of a COST Action proposal, to be submitted in October 2020.
We have shared a first outline of the concept note – see below – and invited researchers and practitioners interested in the topic of Social innovation and local development to contribute in the development of a sound proposal. We received several expressions of interest and an exchange of ideas and suggestions on how to proceed took place on 29 June 2020 with 23 participants from 15 countries.
If you would like to get involved fill in the expression of interest here or, alternatively, contact Alistair Adam-Hernández (adam [at] arl-net.de).
COST Action – Proposal Outline
Community Solutions: When social Innovation meets local development
Exploring the potential of new types of community solutions to create economic opportunities through enterprise development in all its forms (social, community, inclusive) at local level.
Background / The challenge
A large number of local communities throughout Europe are facing fundamental socio-economic and demographic problems. They include those that have become known as the ‘forgotten places’ or ‘places left behind’, those with ageing populations and those struggling to integrate people of migrant and refugee background. Dealing with local problems in this way can bring all levels of government closer to the citizen and deepen democracy.
There are two streams of policy-backed and spontaneous initiatives of relevance to finding solutions to these problems: social innovation and community-led types of local development. Each of them has been covered by its own strand of research, but the greatest potential for solutions lies in the intersection of the two streams.
The challenge is to link social innovation and local development to help communities develop their own solutions. In particular there is a need to compare and contrast policy approaches in order to improve the design of regional, national and EU programmes by testing new approaches.
Objectives / Actions
The ‘Community Solutions’ Action will promote sharing and mutual learning, through networking activities, from research into both institutional / programme-based initiatives and spontaneous/bottom up ones. It is often in the interface between top-down and bottom up that the greatest potential for harnessing community initiatives lies.
The aim of this Action is twofold:
- to identify (and help develop further) types of community-led social innovation that could respond to key problems in the places confronted by severe and longer-term by demographic and socio-economic conditions; and
- to compare institutional and spontaneous approaches, and assess the potential to integrate these approaches to encourage more innovative, feasible and durable community solutions, and under what conditions.
The specific actions will include:
- Establishing a Researcher, Practitioner, Policy-maker and Community-Champion network on the topic (interdisciplinary, good mix and balance of levels of decision making, etc. – building on the RSA and LDnet networks, etc.).
- Developing a knowledge base on policy, programmes, approaches and case studies on the topic. Especially the organisational practicalities and learnings of community-led local development initiatives. (Key or leading organisations, learnings, current and future needs, best practices can be gathered).
- Mapping needs especially from practitioners and policy makers to promote and implement the approach. This could be done with an online survey. We could develop some kind of training modules/qualification to be deployed in different languages/countries. This also offers the possibility of developing blended learning offers.
- Promoting the development of a tool or toolkit on the topic, including templates for measures that could be written into operational programmes.
- Offering exchange events with and among the named target groups, even though they are not part of the COST Action.
- Using different types of event (training school, working groups meeting, stakeholder workshop, Living Labs, peer reviews) to put the gathered knowledge into action and promote the creation of new community-led solutions.
Added value of networking / Expected impact
There could be huge benefits from networking, notably from:
- drawing on different disciplinary perspectives (demography, sociology, geography, economics/ labour market etc) which are currently followed in research on local development and social innovation; and
- learning from research in both urban and rural contexts, which except in a few Member States are currently two largely unconnected ‘silos’.
The action will demonstrate and promote approaches on fostering innovative community solutions within suitable (EU, national and regional/local policy) enabling frameworks. This will be highly relevant to EU policies, notably Cohesion Policy and the Social Pillar, as well as national policies.