Author: Elin Slätmo, Nordregio
One of the strengths of the Sustainable Hub to Engage in Rural Policies with Actors – SHERPA is the inclusion of three societal actor groups in rural multi-actor platforms: science, society and policy. Such interfaces are expressions of a changed understanding of governance in the 21st century. The common feature is that they include and enable interaction between actors from the spheres of science, society and policy-making.
Multi-actor platforms may consist of different types of forum, based on face-to-face meetings or on distance communication (digital/online). Some platforms are an exchange between science and policy, some are an exchange between science and society, and some focus more on communicating local knowledge to the public authorities. Throughout Europe and the world, there are numerous examples of different multi-actor platform constellations, topics and aims. This implies a real trend towards inclusive, community-based approaches to governance.
Within SHERPA, the platforms will be the medium for discussions on European rural policy and on research needs to be developed ahead.
If based on inclusiveness, the scientific literature reviewed by Nordregio for the SHERPA project shows that science-society-policy interfaces can contribute to:
- greater trust between local and central actors, and governments;
- the transformation spreading beyond individuals;
- the creation of common visions for sustainable regional development;
- the transformation of disadvantageous power relations;
- collaborative learning;
- the democratising of knowledge processes;
- a sense of ownership;
- a commitment to the implementation of plans and decisions;
- ensuring stakeholder relevance, applicability and the use of research results; and
- strengthened resilience and economic competitiveness for rural areas.
How can we ensure this will be achieved for SHERPA? We are contributing by giving guidance that encourage the multi-actor arrangement to be experienced as a safe space to voice different opinions or experiences. Although consensus is aimed for, it is not always possible. Often, different perspectives must be stated in order to then reach an agreement on how to proceed and what to suggest to EU policy-makers.
You are most welcome to read more about the guidance to the Multi-Actor Platforms in the SHERPA report.