Rural regions, accounting for a large part at the European but also the global scale, are nowadays in front of great challenges as to their future sustainable development. Most of them are confronting problems of decline and out-migration, ageing of their population, a lower skill base and average labor productivity, etc. (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2006), which are strongly affecting their future development perspectives. Moreover, they have to deal with new challenges emerging from the external environment, such as climate change, changing consumption patterns, technological developments, increasing urbanization patterns, etc.
In order to effectively cope with challenges of the internal and external environment, a society empowering, place-based, cross-sectoral approach for policy making needs to be adopted, pursuing the sustainable exploitation of available resources and human capital, as well as the better coordination and interaction among sectors, levels of government and public and private actors (Stratigea, 2011). Towards this end, planners are challenged to focus on the development of tools and approaches that will support policy makers in making knowledgeable decisions towards desirable futures that can be well adjusted to the peculiarities of each specific rural context. The focus of the planning efforts, in such a context, is not only on the policy results delivered, but also on the process through which these results are produced and the way tools used can structure thoughts and support an effective communication platform for interaction among local participants in a planning exercise. Such an effort implies the need for planning tools that can handle uncertainty and complexity and support a more pluralistic approach (Godet, 1994), capable of integrating information on local views, opinions, visions etc. in the decision making process.
Along these lines, the focus of the present paper is on the structuring of a participatory methodological framework, for planning the integrated future agricultural development of a specific Greek rural region, the region of Kastelli-Herakleion in Crete. This framework is based on the LIPSOR participatory analytical model, integrated with the Focus Groups and the Future Workshop participatory tools. The structure of the paper has as follows: Section 2 refers to the problem to be dealt with in the specific study region; in Section 3 the participatory methodological framework is discussed; in Section 4, the empirical results of the application of this framework in the region at hand are presented; and finally, in Section 5, some conclusions are drawn.
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(Author: Anastasia Stratigea, Chrysaida – Aliki Papadopoulou