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Sitra prepares new Rural Areas Programme and encourages interested parties to participate

At the preparatory stage, key subject areas and perspectives will be charted in several forums, working together with experts. Initially, an open online workshop will be organised where anyone can contribute their views.

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Sitra is launching a new Rural Areas Programme aiming to develop rural areas as a resource for society. At the preparatory stage, key subject areas and perspectives will be charted in several forums, working together with experts. Initially, an open online workshop will be organised where anyone can contribute their views.

The maamerkit.fi website (in Finnish) is set up to support programme preparation; it hosts an open online workshop where anyone can make suggestions and contribute their views as to how rural areas could be developed as a resource for society as a whole.

– What will be particularly interesting is to see bold, innovative proposals which represent added value in relation to things that are already being done and which promote the generation of new, cross-discipline networks, says Programme Director Eeva Hellström of Sitra.

The first phase of the online workshop (29 September to 9 October 2009) will focus on eco-efficient decentralised solutions and the changing relationship between citizens and the countryside as a source of new well-being and new services. The purpose of the workshop is to identify development challenges related to these issues and to seek solutions for them. Also on the agenda is the need for fresh perspectives and initiatives to utilise rural areas as a resource for society as a whole.

In the second phase (29 October to 13 November 2009), the focus will be on how the necessary changes can be achieved, and in the third phase (4 to 5 January 2010), the workshop results will be compiled and subjected to discussion.

The Programme itself will be launched at the beginning of 2010, focusing on open and interactive approaches. The preparatory stage will be open to all interested parties through the online workshop, and indeed everyone who is interested is encouraged to participate.

The Rural Areas Programme

Natural resources are one of Finland’s most important strengths. Maintaining the vitality of rural areas is essential for ensuring the innovative use of those resources and for safeguarding our future competitiveness.

The Sitra programme concentrates on seeking and distributing fresh perspectives and innovative models through which rural areas can help boost competitiveness and generate new added value and wellbeing for all inhabitants of Finland, regardless of whether they live and work in the countryside or not.

Instead of consolidating existing functions and structures in rural areas, the programme focuses on innovation, facilitation and empowerment. For instance, the programme will address the questions: For whom exactly are we building the countryside of the future? and what new kinds of networks and operating models will we need to achieve this?

Various projects can be financed and implemented through the programme: reports, tests or demonstrations, foresight or strategy processes, communications and networking projects, business development and capital investment. The programme will be launched at the beginning of 2010 and will run for 4 to 5 years.

Further information

Eeva Hellström, Programme Director
Tel. +358 50 351 2412, firstname.lastname@sitra.fi

www.maamerkit.fi online workshop (in Finnish)

Finnish Innovation Fund, Sitra
Maintaining Finland’s competitiveness and the wellbeing of Finns requires extensive and profound changes. Sitra engages in foresight activities and promotes change jointly with other actors. Sitra addresses Finland’s key future challenges through programmes and strategy processes. Sitra is an independent public fund whose purpose is to build the prosperous Finland of tomorrow.

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