Social capital and local development: from theory to empirics

The book “Social capital and local development: from theory to empirics” has been published by Palgrave Macmillan (Springer Nature) and is available for purchase here.

SIMRA project coordinator Prof. Maria Nijnik and project partner Bill Slee wrote the Foreword; and SIMRA results were directly used in the following chapters: Chapter 5 “Social capital, network governance and social innovation: towards a new paradigm” (83-105) and Chapter 19 “What future of LEADER as a catalyst of social innovation” (417-438), while also contributing to other chapters.

 A sneak peek…

There is a growing body of knowledge on social capital, which is recognised as a relevant variable in influencing development outcomes. Given that disadvantaged rural areas may be less well endowed with social capital (or at least the right sort of social capital) to engage in creative and productive forms of local development, such an analysis is arguably much needed to address the social, economic and environmental crises that individually or together afflict many rural areas. The book “Social capital and Local Development” contributes to an evidence base of knowledge on, and measurement of, social capital as a force in rural development. The authors argue rightly that Putnam’s view of social capital tends to overlook power relations, social inequalities, and governance structures which are considered more deeply in Bourdieu’s analysis. Their approach synthesises these two main traditions of thought regarding social capital arguing that ‘the network- based approach of the Bourdieusian tradition can (then) be combined with the civic participation approach of the Putnamian tradition to shed light on the multi-dimensional and contextual aspects of social capital’.

Please cite as: Pisani, E., Franceschetti, G., Secco, L., Christoforou, A. (2017) “Social Capital and Local Development. From Theory to Empirics”, Palgrave Macmillan Springer Nature (eBook ISBN 978-3-319-54277-5; DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-54277-5; Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-54276-8).


Elena Pisani (Uni Padova)
Elena Pisani (Uni Padova)

Adopt your cow and encourage mountain farming

“Adotta una mucca”, (“Adopt a cow” in English) is an Italian initiative from the Valsugana Valley in the Trentino province. Its objective is to introduce tourists, children and families to mountain life and culture. Adopters can visit various Alpine huts, learn how mountain products are made faithfully following old recipes and enjoy cows on mountain pastures.

The project
adotta1The project “Adotta una mucca” was created in 1994 to introduce and valorise Alpine hut activities, products and culture in the Valsugana and Lagorai Valleys in North-Eastern Italy. The main objective of the project was to bring tourists to the mountains to discover the hut’s life and how mountain products are made

How does it work?
adotta2Everyone can adopt a cow. The procedure is quite simple: online, on the Valsugana website, a brochure presents the alpine huts that participate in the project. Participants can choose their favourite hut and their favourite cow among a total of 150 cows coming from 15 different alpine huts in Trentino, Italy. A description accompanies every cow, displaying name and picture. Adopting a cow costs 60€:  10€ will be devoted to projects for children’s charities and 50€ will be given to the Alpine hut for the summer maintenance of the “adopted” cow. The 50€ can be used as a voucher by adopters, who, on their visit to their cow, can taste and buy various mountain products, from fresh and seasoned cheeses and ricotta to butter, toast and fresh milk, produced in the alpine hut. Adopters can visit the cow in its alpine hut during the pasture period from mid-June to mid-September. Moreover, the adoption can be offered as a gift to a friend or a relative. It has become very usual to offer “an adopted cow” for a wedding or a birthday present.

The positive impacts
Over the years, the number of adoptions has significantly increased: in 2014, 962 cows were adopted, whereas in 2017, more than 1310 cows were adopted. This innovative project is successful and has positive socio-economic impacts:
– The project “Adotta una mucca” is a real example of collaboration between tourism and agriculture which enables people to get closer to mountain farming activities.
– By adopting a cow, paying a fee and showing interest in the project, participants sustain mountain activities, promote mountain products, get to know the alpine tradition and heritage and contribute to mountain solidarity.

This project is an example of social innovation in marginalised rural areas. You can find it on the SIMRA’s database collecting social innovation examples.

adotta3For more information, please visit
– The project’s brochure
– The project’s website


Florence Tornincasa (Euromontana)
Florence Tornincasa (Euromontana)

Still wondering what social innovation in rural areas looks like? Check out our new brochure!

Cet article est disponible en français ici.

This new SIMRA brochure aims at showcasing the diversity of social innovations in rural areas of Europe and the Mediterranean regions. A sneak peek of what you will find in this brochure includes revitalisation plans of a UNESCO site in Slovakia, a renewable energy community trust in the UK, sustainable fishers delivering boxes of seafood to your doorstep in Greece, or a public-private partnership to support dairy producers in Tunisia!

brochure_cs_1These examples are extracted from the SIMRA database, available on our project’s website.

The examples selected meet criteria of evidence of reconfiguration of social practices; of active involvement of civil society; of novelty taking place in new geographical settings or in relation to previously disengaged social groups; and of improvement of societal wellbeing.

If you want to share any examples with SIMRA yourself, please use this online questionnaire (also available in French).

Our brochure is now available here.

SIMRA (Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas) is a four-year project (2016-2020) funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme. It aims to advance understanding of social innovation and innovative governance in agriculture, forestry and rural development, and how it can be boosted, in marginalised rural areas across Europe and around the Mediterranean, including non-EU countries. Visit the SIMRA website here.


When preserving the wool means preserving the territory

This article is available in Spanish here.// Este artículo está disponible en español aquí.

Extensive livestock farming is the most important population-fixing activity in Iberian rural areas. This is so because, unlike other activities, it requires people to take care of the animals every day. Furthermore, in many marginal rural areas, extensive livestock farming is often the only possibility that the territory has to offer.
For this reason, as Spanish rural areas become depopulated, extensive farming, local breeds and pastures, together with its people, have started to disappear as well. The landscape and culture, which were shaped by that lifestyle, are also lost along this depopulation process. Or, perhaps, it was the other way round. Perhaps, this essential activity disappeared first and, as a consequence, people had no choice but to leave.
esquellana_ovellaBe that as it may, there are still livestock farms which breathe life into their territories and people who value the richness and importance of rural areas and who refuse to admit the degradation of the ecosystem. These people are not willing to accept the extinction of local breeds because they constitute a rich genetic heritage. These breeds have adapted to their environment for centuries and it is yet unknown when we will have to depend on this environment ourselves. Livestock breeds, like seeds of local varieties, have also been selected in search of particular properties. Preserving them is crucial: otherwise, what will we eat tomorrow if plant varieties and animal breeds cannot survive a particular disease or changes in climate patterns?
It is precisely this love for the land and its surroundings, the motivation to develop a rural and human sustainable environment, and the awareness of the importance of preserving local breeds what has driven the creation of Esquellana. This initiative has been implemented by a group of people with the aim of preventing the extinction of the Guirra breed of sheep. This breed is the only native one from the Region of Valencia (in the Eastern side of Spain). Its herd has halved in the last 30 years, resulting in just 5,000 sheep left nowadays and thus becoming an endangered species. In order to fulfill their objective, Esquellana is running a crowdfunding campaign until the 16th of December, which aims at raising €12,000 for an initial processing of 1,600 kg of wool. In this way, they intend to allow producers to sell their wool fairly, so that they at least receive some profit from the compulsory expense that shearing entails. Besides, this would bring back the production of quality natural wool at local level, while avoiding the extinction of this breed.
esquellana_ovella2One of the promoters of Esquellana, shepherd Jesús Beneito, denounces this fall in the number of sheep and, consequently, of people. Nowadays, only 22 shepherds work with this breed, since “many others, discouraged by the situation, have given up shepherding, and, little by little, rural depopulation is adding up to the issue of the extinction of a native breed of sheep”, says Jesús Beneito.
Let’s hope they achieve their goals, let’s hope they raise those €12,000. Let’s hope we recover wool and get down to ‘sheepness’. Let’s hope that, with the help of many small people*, those 22 shepherds are multiplied and guirra sheep are saved. Let’s hope so, not only for those sheep producers in Valencia, but rather because, in this way, we would be helping the planet.

*“Many small people, in small places, doing small things can change the world”. (Eduardo Galeano).

Author:                               Translated by:

Lucía López Marco (IAMZ-CIHEAM)
Lucía López Marco (IAMZ-CIHEAM)
Miriam Baeza Tomás (IAMZ-CIHEAM) and Beatriz Ezquerra López (IAMZ-CIHEAM)
Miriam Baeza Tomás (IAMZ-CIHEAM) and Beatriz Ezquerra López (IAMZ-CIHEAM)

EU funded research on way to decoding success of Social Innovation in marginalised rural areas

SIMRA – a European Cooperative Research project  funded by the H2020 EU Framework Programme is making its first advances in identifying key success criteria and good practice examples for social innovation in some of the most marginalised rural areas  in Europe.  The project was born with the aim of decoding and explaining the criteria of what makes a good idea or project successful in often under populated, isolated or challenged geographical areas. It aims to drive innovative solutions through reconfiguring social practices and implementing proven and successful civil society actions.  The SIMRA project is set to run from April 2016 to March 2020 and involves 26 organisations across Europe and the Mediterranean.  The project aims to understand the mechanics behind the success of trialled and tested examples of innovation that improve people’s lives, add value to the local economy, enhance the circular economy (i.e. placing sustainable production and farming techniques at the core of all actions) and, encourage people to reinforce their “roots” in marginalised areas.

Over 40 innovative examples coming from areas such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy and rural development have so far been identified and include examples such as:

  • A box of sea from Greece – which delivers fresh sustainably caught fish straight to the table of Greek consumers while ensuring a fair price to local fishermen.
  • An Austrian bio-dynamic farm – providing sustainably grown food for 30 “harvest-sharers” or consumers.
  • A community led voluntary fire-fighting team from a Catalan village which has reduced the incidences of local fires and turned the dead-wood collections into a viable energy source for schools and other buildings.
  • “Adopt a terrace in the Italian Alps” where over 100 abandoned terrace farms are now again being cultivated or receiving donations to help restore dilapidated mountain slopes, improving safety and adding value to the local economy and environment.

Other examples include a cooperative offering daycare for children on farms for women farmers; a project in Eastern Europe promoting organic agriculture for disadvantaged Roma and non-Roma people with an accompanying educational programme; community led local and traditional food growing projects; community owned wind turbines and energy generation projects often involving local crowd funding techniques; energy smart storage projects for rural communities dependent on intermittent supplies.

The SIMRA project has analysed hundreds of examples and assessed each one on the following criteria:

  • evidence of reconfiguration of social practices in response to societal challenges
  • the active involvement of civil society or grassroots organisations
  • the novelty or reconfiguration taking place in new geographical settings or in relation to previously disengaged social groups
  • improves societal wellbeing through social, environmental or economic aims

The project not only counts on the active participation of its member organisations but has developed a built-in consultation platform to ensure that stakeholder and community led organisations can shape SIMRA´s outcomes to meet the needs of local communities.

The results of the project will be shared throughout the life of the project and will be targeted at policy-makers, local development organisations, communities and individuals working at the community and rural level across Europe and the Mediterranean.   As rural areas struggle with declining and ageing populations and increasing agricultural and environmental challenges, social innovation will contribute to reinvigorating local rural communities and help them to manage precious natural resources in productive agricultural settings.

Further information: SIMRA site, Brochure and database .


Innovation and Cooperation in Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Rural Regions

On behalf of the European Rural Development Network, the Federal Institute of Agricultural Economics hosted a conference on 3-4 October 2017 in Eisenstadt, Austria. It brought together around 50 researchers and policy makers from the European Union and neighbouring countries, giving lectures, presenting posters and participating in lively discussions.

Efforts in previous Common Agricultural Policy periods have enabled agricultural development but also promoted integrating other sectors of the rural economy and emphasised social and environmental concerns in rural development programmes. In the current period of the rural development policy one of the six EU priorities is dedicated to fostering knowledge transfer and innovation in a very broad sense. Innovation does not only refer to technology, products or processes, but likewise to social, organisational and governance aspects, including any forms of horizontal and vertical cooperation and communication. This approach contributes to improving regional competitiveness in an increasingly challenging economic environment while securing the sustainable use of resources, the provision of eco-system services, food security, social and human capital. Innovation could arise from regional strengths and regional identities and should enable broad participation in the innovation process. The conference aimed to stimulate methodological, theoretical and empirical contributions which provide explanations and definitions for the above mentioned policy buzzwords in the rural development context.

Social Innovation and Cooperation in Agriculture and Rural Development was the subject of Session 1. The first contribution was questioning the role and possibilities of policy in catalyzing Social Innovation in Rural Areas (B. Wieliczko) as Social Innovation is considered to be a way to tackle market failures. Its development should be supported financially and by an enabling environment as it increases social capital. The two following presentations discussed modern Short Food Supply Chains (SFSCs): Participating in SFSCs is one of the effective ways to make use of small farm potential and to increase farm incomes. According to P. Chmieliński collaborative networking and social innovation are crucial factors forming successful SFSCs. P. Lasala introduced the H2020 Project SKIN, which is performing a Social Network Analysis in „Short Food Supply Chain Knowledge and Innovation Network“. SFSCs are characterized by a maximum of one intermediary between producer and consumer and can have very different characteristics including farmers’ markets, box schemes, public procurement etc. SKIN aims to bring society closer to European farmers and to create more horizontal and vertical relations for the economy of the future.

Session 2 focused on the background of Social Innovations – their preconditions and the different experiences to be found in different countries. The contributions showed that there is a wide range of Social Innovations. The presented examples included the „Redes de Cidadania Agroalimentar“ in South Brazil, which connects agro-ecological farmers and consumers (L. Roselli) by various marketing activities and arrangements. Three examples for Social Innovations in Turkey were given (A. Koc): Tire Dairy Cooperative, Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the protection of natural habitats and Seferihisar Slow City, showing their contribution to a more sustainable development. S. van den Burg introduced the model of Blue Growth in the Dutch North Sea, explaining some differences of rural development against development at sea. T. Dax presented the H2020 Project PEGASUS which investigates the various drivers and options for public goods especially focusing on ecological and socially beneficial outcomes (ESBOs) resulting from land management. The role and impacts of the Rural Development Programme for sustainable development in rural regions of Slovakia was the focus of J. Kozáková’s contribution.

In Session 3 different strategies and approaches for the agricultural sector were presented and discussed. C. Giuliani introduced social farming services as an emerging and promising sustainable diversification strategy for agriculture and an innovative offer of social services in South Tyrol which provides various added values. A. Ignat highlighted the importance of extension services and the collaboration of all stakeholders in the rural extension network for the innovation flow in agriculture of the Republic of Moldova. A transdisciplinary research project in Burgenland investigated innovative future perspectives for the agriculture in Austria’s most eastern province (R. Barthl-Kratochvil), implementing a broad participatory approach but also pointing out obstacles such as short time frames and limited financial resources resulting in a lack of continuity. Another project focused on the Biodiversity Monitoring in High Nature Value Grasslands by farmers in Austria (M. Zacharias, W. Ressi) which relies on the integration of farmers, raising their awareness and with this strategy gaining more trust and spreading of the approach among other farmers.

Various instruments and possibilities for analysing rural areas took centre stage in Session 4. The Austrian Communal Audit is an instrument for evaluating the performance of communities in regard to their organisation, infrastructure, finances and environmental aspects (E. Quendler) with the positive effects of improving the economic and environmental situation. V. Székely and D. Michniak presented an assessment of transport accessibility of district centres in Prešov region (Slovakia) within the network of public transport connection and stressed the influence of infrastructure policies on regional and local development. The Romanian Institute of Agricultural Economics (M. Tudor et al.) created a tool to measure the smartness and convergence of regions which includes the dimensions human and social capital, traditional infrastructure, ICT infrastructure, quality of life, management of natural resources and participatory governance. It was shown that low levels of smartness go hand in hand with low economic performance, and that cohesion funds projects were mostly implemented in the most developed areas and the economic disparities increased despite other policy objectives. Ch. Hoffmann investigated Integrated Territorial Strategies for Services of General Interest (INTESI project) in alpine regions and suggested adaptation of services to people’s requirements, and re-decentralization taking into account accessibility, mobility and digitalization.

Session 5 focused on the importance and difficulties of local development strategies in Czech Republic (O. Konencny et al., M. Trantinova), Slovenia (M. Bedrac, T. Cunder) and Georgia (G. Shubitidze) showing that formal and bureaucratic needs often hinder the development of innovative activities. In addition to RD measures also confidence-building among stakeholders and recruiting of enthusiastic persons seem of enormous importance. The evaluation with demanding theoretical requirements sometimes fails because of practical obstacles of data capture and access.

The last Session 6 emphasized the importance to look across the agricultural sector. A. Fieldsend introduced the extension of the Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System to an integrative Rural Business Innovation System which comprises all rural businesses. He stated that there are already many possibilities for support of businesses in rural areas but awareness and access have to be improved. For the case of Ukraine L. Stepura focused on the importance of even the smallest households and enterprises to protect settlements, supply, infrastructure and living conditions in rural regions. This is now acknowledged also by government and influences policies, i.e. the law on decentralization.

poster_awi_simraPoster presentations concerned specific topics (results and methods) with relation to Common Agricultural Policy and Agricultural Economics. For example the always controversial discussed topic of the large differences between organic and conventional farms in structures, stock density, yields, efficiency and last but not least policy payments (A. Baer-Nawrocka). The user-friendly interactive online application to calculate standard gross margins of currently 72 agricultural production activities for consultants and farmers showed how farmers can improve their economic considerations (K. Heinschink et al.). Others compared competitiveness, farm income and sustainability and self-sufficiency indicators to react accordingly with policy measures (A. Rzeszutko, J. Sredzinska, A. Jankowska, O. Varchenko).

Some posters highlighted the situation in rural development and the impact of rural development measures by showing specific evaluation results, concerning innovation (O. Chaloupka, M. Pechrova, Th. Hlavsa et al., M. Mrunustik Konencna), regional differentiations in rural development (A. Standar) and agri-environmental schemes (W. Czubak), strategies of local developments, income and quality of life estimations (A. Luczak, A. Kozera, A. Sadowski, J. Stanislawska). On the other hand posters presented results or interim results of big international cooperation projects such as Social Innovations in Marginalised Rural Areas (SIMRA, Egartner et al.) and COMPOSE (V. Valentar) which aims to achieve energy goals with innovative technical, organisational and financial solutions especially for small scale projects.

The conference field trip comprised 3 very different promising approaches to strengthen rural development. At the Sulzhof a small scale self-harvesting project has been introduced, showing that such projects have a potential to increase not only in urban environments but also in rural regions. There is a growing demand as the rural population is no longer embedded only in farm sector work. The social component of such projects is just as important as the production of food. A big scale organic production project showed the importance of personal initiative as well as innovative marketing. The wine-shop Purbach, a cooperation of 64 local vine-growers, proved that innovative ideas in cooperation and marketing can pay in the short term.

The ERDN Conference 2017 showed the broad range of many different approaches and ideas of rural development activities in various countries and the efforts to analyse and improve their impacts. Key factors of successful development seem to be openness, willingness for innovation, cooperation, making use of possibly hidden social capital and of course people who take the initiative and the responsibility.

Sigrid Egartner (AWI)
Julia Niedermayr (AWI)
Klaus Wagner (AWI)


Slovakia’s National Info Day Horizon 2020

Tatiana Kluvankova presenting SIMRA at Slovakia’s National Info Day Horizon 2020. (Photo: National Agricultural and Food Centre).

Project H2020 SIMRA – Social Innovation in Marginalized Rural Areas was introduced in the invited lecture during the Slovakia’s National Info Day Horizon 2020, particularly considering the societal challenge 2 – “Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry, Marine, Maritime and Inland Water Research and the Bioeconomy. The event took place on November 7th, 2017 at the National Agricultural and Food Centre in Lužianky, with the participation of Marc Duponcel, the Head of the Research and Innovation of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development. Professor Tatiana Kluvánková presented the most important outcomes of SIMRA project gained during the first year of the project on behalf of SIMRA scientific team. Institute of Forest Ecology at Slovak Academy of Sciences within Centre of Excellence SPECTRA is participating in the project research as Slovak partner leading Work Package 2 dealing with the transdisciplinary understanding of social innovation in marginalized rural areas.


Tatiana Kluvankova (CE SPECTRA, IFE SAS)
Tatiana Kluvankova (CE SPECTRA, IFE SAS)
Stanislava Brnkalakova (CE SPECTRA, IFE SAS)
Stanislava Brnkalakova (CE SPECTRA, IFE SAS)

Abandoned terraces adopted to support mountains

The project “Adotta un terrazzamento” [“Adopt a terrace” in English] aims at regulating and expanding mountain farming activities by giving any interested person the opportunity to adopt a terrace and provide direct or long-term support to the mountains of the Brenta Valley, in the Alps region in Italy.

Context and origin of the project

Terraces are created to transform a sloping mountain into a series of shelves to obtain surfaces suitable for cultivation. The walls of the terraced floors are known locally as ‘masiére’ (from Latin ‘maceries’) and are made of dry stone (i.e. without the use of lime or cement as a binder).

After the Second World War, the terraced system collapsed, with the collapse of crops that required too much manpower to manage compared to those using mechanization. As a result, the terraces were abandoned for more than 30 years, being covered by pieces of wood and subject to physical degeneration, threatening their stability. Of the 230 km of dry stone walls across the valley, more than 60% were in ruins, which endangered the safety of the slopes.

Within this context, the initiative “Adotta un terrazzamento” was born.

The project ‘Adopt a Terrace’

The ‘Adopt a terrace’ initiative is a strategic project of the Valstagna Municipality, the Terre Alte Group of the Alpino Italiano Club and of the Department of Geography of the University of Padua. The initiative was conceived following a local, ‘spontaneous adoption’, of terraces. The goal now is to regulate and expand the activity, allowing anyone to adopt a terrace, directly or indirectly restoring these features of the mountain of the Brenta Canal.

How does it work?

The adoption of the terrace is done by registering and choosing the operation to be supported on the terraces, the choice being based on the critical conditions of conservation, the aptitude for productive recovery and landscape valorisation.

It is either possible to adopt a terrace directly and cultivate it, or adopt it indirectly by paying a minimum contribution of 15€. The subscription contributes to supporting the work of a volunteer team which is in charge of recovering abandoned terraces. Contributions are used to cover the reimbursement of expenses for equipment and materials needed for the work. Groups such as schools, businesses, or other civic associations can also adopt a terrace. After 5 years of adoption, a Diploma of “Terracotta Benefactor” will be recognized by the Committee, the Municipality of Valstagna and the Italian Alpine Club. Every year, the adopters are able to visit their terrace and view the restoration efforts.

Positive social and environmental impacts

The innovation has revitalised a historical municipality abandoned by residents. The project has achieved positive impacts, both social and environmental.

  • The initiative is original;
  • The institutional partnership is between academia, local governments and civic associations;
  • The project uses wasteland and shows how to overcome limitations of private ownership (partners had to find the owners of the abandoned land, and convince them to loan the land for the project);
  • The adoption is a means of enhancing a non-profit and multifunctional approach to land use.

The project also demonstrates positive results as, to date, it has allowed the recovery of more than 100 terraces, covering more than 4ha in different parts of the valley, with the involvement of more than 100 people, most of them non-valley residents.

This project is an example of social innovation in marginalised rural areas. You can find it in SIMRA database of examples of social innovation.

For more information on the project, please visit the website:


Florence Tornincasa (Euromontana)
Florence Tornincasa (Euromontana)
Stakeholders consultation of WP2 during SITT workshop in Bratislava

Defining and understanding social innovation for marginalised rural areas

The SIMRA Work Package tackling Theoretical and operational approaches to social innovation (WP2) is pleased to share with you the outcomes of Deliverables 2.1 and 2.2.

Social innovation (SI) has rapidly expanded in the debates and agenda of the research and policy communities over the last decade, with considerable expectations of its potential for addressing urgent societal challenges. A key question addressed is why communities in some marginalised rural areas (MRAs) respond to societal problems whereas others collapse?

Stakeholders consultation of WP2 during SITT workshop in Bratislava
Stakeholders consultation of WP2 during SITT workshop in Bratislava

Thanks to the valuable inputs and fruitful discussions across the WP2 team, and in the SIMRA transdisciplinary laboratory, the definition of social innovation in marginalized rural areas was developed and presented in Polman et al., 2017 (Deliverable 2.1) entitled “Classification of Social Innovations for Marginalized Rural Areas”. This deliverable undertook a critical analysis of theoretical approaches to social innovation, with the first involvement of members of the Social Innovation Think Tank (SITT) through an online survey, and a workshop in Bratislava, Slovakia, in October 2016. SIMRA partners contributed through e-communication (emails, video calls) and a roundtable discussion at the full project partner meeting in Barcelona, Spain in May 2017.

The outcome was a definition of social innovation for use in SIMRA of: “The reconfiguring of social practices, in response to societal challenges, which seeks to enhance outcomes on societal well-being and necessarily includes the engagement of civil society actors.” 

More at:

A transdisciplinary framework for use in understanding the emergence and divergence of social innovation in marginalised rural areas has recently been developed (Deliverable 2.2). The principal concern was to determine the conceptual and emergence factors of social innovation, the types of social innovations which are likely to occur in marginalised rural areas, and what can be done to enhance the innovation potential across different types of such areas. Four hypotheses for the most prevalent trajectories of diverging paths of social innovation have been formulated. A transdisciplinary approach has been used to enhance expert and empirical knowledge exchange to shape development trajectories, and to inform those involved in policy design and implementation.

Empirical knowledge from 166 examples of social innovation, available in the SIMRA database (Bryce et al., 2017; D3.2), has formed the basis for the development of the framework and diverging path hypotheses. Members of the SIMRA Social Innovation Think Tank were closely involved in the process through: i) the development of an initial set of SI variables through an online survey and stakeholder workshop in Bratislava, Slovakia; ii) consulting a checklist for defining SI and ranking a final list of variables used to formulate hypotheses of diverging paths. This resulted in co-production of (theoretical – empirical – expert) understanding of social innovation in marginalised rural areas addressing societally relevant problems.

More at:

Kluvánková, T., Gežik, V., Špaček, M., Brnkaláková, S., Valero, D., Bryce, R., Slee, W., Alkhaled, D., Secco, L., Burlando, C., Kozova, M., Miller, D., Nijnik, M., Perlik, M., Pisani, E., Polman, N., Price, M., Sarkii, S. and Weiss, G. 2017. Transdisciplinary understanding of SI in MRAs, Deliverable 2.2, Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas (SIMRA). pp. 58.

Polman, N., Slee, W., Kluvánková, T., Dijkshoorn, M., Nijnik, M., Gezik, V. and Soma, K. 2017. Classification of Social Innovations for Marginalized Rural Areas, Deliverable 2.1, Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas (SIMRA). pp. 32.


Tatiana Kluvankova (CE SPECTRA, IFE SAS)
Stanislava Brnkalakova (CE SPECTRA, IFE SAS)
Stanislava Brnkalakova (CE SPECTRA, IFE SAS)

The mountain leaders: rural women are

Wherever you go, whatever you produce, whatever you believe in, Women of the mountains are determined to lead their societies for survival.

Rural Women

When you reach the edge of the road leading to the Bekaa Plain, you lay over the road looking for a place to grab a coffee. Turning around would lead you to Angèle. Angèle knows everything, Angèle cooks very well. Angele can help you.

With its 60 years of hardship, well drawn on her wrinkled face, Angele welcomes you in her own territory surrounded by mountains of boxes where the smell of the apricot jam takes you to the other rooms. A strong determined and smiling woman thriving to achieve in her community.

Being a woman of Education in a rural society, having decided to invest in her community and teach others how to become productive, Angele has invested in herself and her skills to build a woman based legacy for her community and her friends.

Transforming cooking from a daily burden to a source of economic return is what makes Angele a leader of the community. Having mastered the kebbeh, the Harissa and the tabbouleh, she is the reference in organizing events at the village.

Angele contributed to sharing her experience and know how with other women in the world, teaching them the art of cooking and preserving fresh products. she contributed to creating and redesigning leaders of her own image in every rural village she visited.

There are thousands of Angèle

Our Mountains are flourishing and sustained because of thousands Angèle. Every women serving her family, every women helping her family in the field, every women preparing food for her family, every woman contributing to the welfare of her community is a successful version of Angèle.

In every rural family a new Angèle rises, keeping the family warm, helping everyone get along with life issues and surviving the mountains. overcoming the strong weather, the hard conditions and the traditions and cultures.

Leaders are not made, they are born leaders and every single woman is a genetically designed leader but a rural woman in the mountains is an even greater version of leaders.

A tribute to every Angele, a tribute to every rural woman leading her fellows to creating empowered versions of community members.


Patricia Sfeir (Seeds-Int)
Patricia Sfeir (Seeds-Int)