The foundational economy in rural-urban perspective:  Reflections on inclusive and sustainable regional development from the ROBUST project

Presented by Bryonny Goodwin-Hawkins, Damian Maye and Daniel Keech

2021 will be a year of challenge and change, as COVID-19 continues and realities after Brexit sink in. New challenges join old. The climate crisis still unfolds, and long-term socio-economic inequalities endure. More than ever, alternative economic models for sustainable, inclusive wellbeing are sorely needed. The Foundational Economy is one such model – with Wales already pioneering policy. In this talk, we join with WISERD colleagues to discuss an ‘everyday’ economy that both already exists and can help envision progressive futures.

However, as researchers in rural development and sustainable food systems, we want to raise two cautions for the Foundational Economy agenda, particularly as it is picked up in policies for recovery and beyond. First, growing emphasis on localism risks tumbling into the ‘local trap’ and repeating the pitfalls of earlier approaches to endogenous development. Second, there is a risk that equating foundational and rural (or peripheral) could unintentionally recycle the stereotypes that have already left too many of our regions and communities behind. We reflect on research from the Horizon 2020 ROBUST project to unpack these issues. Drawing from examples – including dynamic procurement systems for the public plate – we view the Foundational Economy from a regional perspective, introduce key foundational dimensions and argue that interconnections between rural and urban are constitutive and must be mutually beneficial.

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