Between June 2001 and
December 2002 I was leading the European Rural Development (ERD) Project
of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).
main idea of the project was to analyze the demographic, economic,
social, cultural and political development of rural areas in Europe
within a truly multi-disciplinary framework. This should help to
overcome the predominantly agriculture-based perspectives of current
rural development studies.
A major component of the project were case
studies of supposedly innovative rural development initiatives outside
the agricultural sector - such as initiatives in farm-based tourism, in
rural industry, or in new rural services. The project was able to finish
10 (of the initially planned 12) case studies - ranging from a high-tech
silicon waver producer in a small village of rural Austria to a wood
processing network in Finland.
My small team (Mika
Aromaki, Ingrid Kamminger, Adriana Pontieri) and I also started to
develop the Rural Analysis and Planning System (RAPS), which was
intended to become a tool for political decision makers. It includes a
very detailed database for Austria at the municipality level ("Gemeindedatenbank")
to provide users with detailed comparative information on trends in
rural areas. We planned to link this database with a rule-based
expert system, which should suggest development options based on the
specific conditions of a particular region.
project, which was planned to be completed by the end of 2005, was
terminated prematurely according to a Financial Expenditure Reduction
Plan of the Institute. Parts of the original ERD
website are still available at the IIASA
archive, which outlines main ideas
and concepts of the project and also provides some preliminary results
and data sets.