Grasping rural community resilience and well-being
After kicking off in February 2022 the REBOUND partnership, including LDnet/AEIDL, focused during the past year on compiling state-of-the-art knowledge in the field of rural community resilience and well-being. The main instrument to achieve this was a questionnaire distributed to a broad range of stakeholders to gain community, practitioner, agency and policy-maker insights into rural community resilience. Also, a series of case-studies, interviews and focus groups were carried out by the partnership.
LDnet/AEIDL, responsible for accessing state-of-the-art knowledge at the European level, was able to reach out to 20 respondents from 13 different countries in total. With a clear professional perspective on the topic, the respondents demonstrated a predominantly practical link to the topic of rural community resilience. As a foretaste before the publication of the European and Overall Reports, the main results were summarised as follows:
Three main understandings of resilience ranging from resistance to transformability. The project context in which resilience is addressed as a topic is often related to the achievement of a higher degree of independence or preparedness, as well as to a higher level of awareness, engagement and self-organising of citizens in collective affairs and community spirit. Social capital and community-level action are the two key factors contributing to rural community resilience. In addition, community leadership and networks seem to be highly relevant to build resilience. Social and cultural diversity as well as community-agency networks turned out to be less important. Main barriers to developing higher rural community resilience are deficient participation and communication, lack of social capital and community leadership, a negative mind-set or mentality as well as politicians, bureaucracy and decision making.
Resilience building is deficiently addressed at all levels of policy. The LEADER-CLLD approach represents a worthy exception to the rule, even though it has its own flaws and challenges. Building strategic partnerships and networking across the board of topics affecting communities, inclusion and participation of all members of the community in shaping their own development path and becoming more independent of external resources and more self-organised are relevant factors for higher rural community resilience in the future. Respondents proposed various approaches and indicators to measure rural community resilience, subdivided in quantitative and qualitative categories. A time variable and the long-term nature of rural community resilience building should not be underestimated. Finally, respondents overwhelmingly evaluated the role of education and training as fundamental for the promotion of rural community resilience.
The REBOUND partnership will continue to work in 2023 on the development of an accredited training unit on rural community resilience. If you are interested in participating, please join the REBOUND mailing list to stay tuned with the latest updates HERE.
The first REBOUND newsletter is also available in English HERE.