International exchange always leads to new perspectives. Following that motto, Austrian and Polish students, farmers and researchers within the field of bioeconomy got together in a deliberative workshop format. This workshop was a joint undertaking of the Ecosocial Forum Austria & Europe and the Polish Hub (the University of Agriculture in Krakow), the Federal Institute of Agricultural Economics, Rural and Mountain Research, as well as the AgrarThinkTank.
Young people under 30 were invited to discuss the challenges, necessary framework conditions and policy options, for a bioeconomy to foster sustainable development of rural regions in Europe. First, three experts gave inputs about social, ecological and economic issues related to a rural perspective on bioeconomy. This was followed by a world café format, during which participants actively engaged with the experts. On three tables, participants elaborated on ethical and rational aspects of land use competition, innovation and rural development.
This was followed by an input by Markus Schermer (University of Innsbruck, Institute of Sociology) about “Future Innovation Necessities in Societal Practices for a Circular Economy”. Mr. Schermer elaborated on different ideas of how to organize society, with a special focus on the dichotomy of bio-technological versus ecological-economical approaches. A key message was that the societal focus has to move from a “standard of living” to “quality of life”.
The final presentation was given by Thomas Dax (Federal Institute of Agricultural Economics, Rural and Mountain Research) about “Bioeconomy as a Driver for Rural Development”. The presentation focused on the findings of several case studies in the field of forestry and farming, conducted within the Horizon 2020 Pegasus program.
On the second table (innovation), participants elaborated on a “sharing economy”. The term was broadened and included sharing of knowledge and a focus on local communities. Moreover, a potential for rural tourism was pointed out, which stems from revitalization of rural areas.
On the third table (rural development), participants discussed the issue of scale of activities within rural areas. An increase of employment and revitalized rural areas are seen as potentials. Moreover, participants pointed to the importance of a focus on the quality of life of rural inhabitants.
During the deliberative workshop, several valuable discussions occurred. Due to time constraints, participants were not able to discuss the topics to its full extent.
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