Centre for Welsh Politics and Society / WISERD@Aberystwyth researchers are involved in a European study to investigate interactions between rural and urban areas and how they can be more effectively managed. ROBUST is a European research project involving 24 partners from 11 countries. It is coordinated by Wageningen University in the Netherlands. The project receives funding from the European Union´s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No 727988. ROBUST kicked off in June 2017 and will run for 48 months until 2021.

The CWPS-WISERD contribution is led by Professor Michael Woods and Dr Jesse Heley, who are working closely with the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), who are also partners in the consortium. By linking academic and policy partners, ROBUST hopes to ensure that the research is focused on issues that are relevant to policy-makers and produces practical recommendations for implementation. CWPS-WISERD and the WLGA will be working together on a series of case studies in Wales that will be looking at interactions between rural and urban areas relating to sustainable food systems, cultural connections and public services.

The overall goal of ROBUST is to:

a) advance our understanding of the interactions and dependencies between rural, peri-urban and urban areas and

b) to identify and promote policies, governance models and practices that foster mutually-beneficial relations.

Improved governance arrangements and synergies between rural, peri-urban and urban areas will in turn contribute to Europe’s smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, maximising the creation of rural jobs and value-added.

To achieve these goals, ROBUST works with 11 Living Labs and five Communities of Practice:

Living Labs

A ROBUST Living Lab is a placed-based form of experimental collaboration that emphasizes co-creation in a real-world setting. Policy-makers, researchers, businesses, service providers, citizens and other stakeholders work together to develop and test new ways to solve problems in a specific geographic region. The ROBUST project includes 11 Living Labs that represent typical rural-urban settings throughout Europe.

Communities of Practice

A Community of Practice is a community of people who share a common interest, practice or problem, who share information and experiences with one another to better learn about that particular practice. The Communities of Practice in ROBUST are organised around five rural-urban themes that provide a structured forum for sharing experiences and findings from the various ROBUST Living Labs. The five Communities of Practice are: New Business Models and Labour Markets, Public Infrastructure and Social Services, Sustainable Food Systems, Cultural Connections, and Ecosystem Services.

Find out more:

ROBUST website

Centre for Welsh Politics and Society / WISERD@Aberystwyth website