Regions taking action to integrate cultural and natural heritage into regional development strategies

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07/05/2021

Many regions across Europe are currently updating their "Regional Smart Specialisation Strategies" (RIS3) – in other words, research and innovation strategies for a region that: focus policy and investments on key priorities; build on local strengths; support innovation and stimulate private sector investment; engage stakeholders in experimentation; and are evidence-based.

With RIS3 updates on the minds of many, now is the perfect time to ensure that cultural and natural heritage are parts of these strategies.

Cultural and natural heritage are crucial parts of rural development and regeneration processes, and thus to smart specialisation. When identifying local strengths and building strategies to tap these, cultural and natural heritage cannot be overlooked as potentially unique and impactful forces for development.

The RURITAGE project, in which ICLEI Europe is a partner, works alongside rural areas to demonstrate the ways in which natural and cultural heritage can be an engine for regeneration. The project is now convening a Board of Regions, in order to support regions responsible for drafting and updating RIS3 strategies to consider cultural and natural heritage as part of their strategic research and innovation priorities – and thus to tap the enormous value of cultural assets and natural resources.

This Board of Regions will bring together European regional authorities that see an opportunity to integrate cultural and natural heritage into their Smart Specialisation Strategies. Select regional authorities will be advised on how to integrate cultural and natural heritage into their strategies, and will have the opportunity to take part in dynamic exchange with other, like-minded regions.

Regional authorities from EU and non-EU Member States alike are encouraged to apply to join the Board of Regions.

Exchange will be kick-off in autumn 2021 with an online workshop, during which new member regions will be welcomed into the RURITAGE network. Select regions will also be invited and sponsored to join a RURITAGE conference in 2022, which will take place at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris (pending COVID-related restrictions).

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