The development of Future Outlooks is an important step in each of the 12 regional Foresight exercises of the POLIRURAL project. For our purposes, the exploration of future outlooks based on the use of scenarios, corresponds to the exploration of policy options to achieve specific goals, or address specific challenges that feature in the action plan, an essential output of the Foresight process. In particular, this work provides a laboratory in which to test the use of system dynamic modelling, as a way for comparing different policy options. Before delving into the methodology however, it is useful recall the overall goal of the project, how this will be achieved and what we have leaned since we started.
One of the goals of the POLIRURAL project is to explore the phenomenon of “new entrants” as a factor in the sustainable growth and development of rural economies. The approach taken is based on a series of 12 regional Foresight initiatives, in the EU and neighbourhood countries. The regional Foresight exercises are run as independent exercises. Each is driven by the specific needs of each region. In each case the process and sequence of events are based on a schedule determined by local conditions in collaboration with major stakeholders. The goal is that each of the 12 exercises will produce a Vision, Action Plan, and Roadmap that is:
• endorsed by major stakeholders in the economic and social life of the region, and
• adopted by major actors in regional administration, who will ensure the execution of the action plan and the realization of the vision, based on the timing laid out in the roadmap.
Each of these Foresight exercises is intended to provide a realistic environment in which to explore:
• concepts such as “new entrants” to the rural regional economies,
• related concepts such as “rural attractiveness,”
• the use of Text Mining as a productivity tool in the execution of regional Foresight, and
• the use of System Dynamic Modelling as a tool for stakeholder engagement and learning by diverse groups about the dynamics of complex socio-economic systems.
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