The initial meeting of the regional Multi-Actor Platform Zielone Sąsiedztwo in Poland was planned for March 2020, yet the outbreak of COVID-19 postponed it to July. In an outdoor setting, the organisers gathered MAP members to present the SHERPA project and start discussions on the long-term vision for rural areas.
As a first step, participants filled in a questionnaire regarding their vision for rural areas in the Mazowieckie voivodeship which helped launch discussions around three main topics: challenges and opportunities for the next 20 years; a desirable future for 2040; and challenges in reaching such a vision. The outcome of the discussions showed that the needs of rural areas in the Mazowieckie region are diverse and complex, highlighting some of the key issues linked to public transport network; educational opportunities; and how to valorify the potential of rural areas in developing bioeconomy.
Having set the basis for the development of a Discussion Paper on the topic, MAP members are keen to identify potential actions and opportunities that can help the development of rural areas and small towns in their region. One of the challenged identified by the MAP is how to build cohesive communities that are involved in the development of their local area, with particular emphasis on environmental issues, quality of social infrastructure and social inclusion.