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SHERPA - Sustainable Hub to Engage into Rural Policies with Actors

48 months ( 01/10/2019 – 30/09/2023)

The project at a glance
The overall objective of SHERPA is to gather relevant knowledge and opinions that contribute to the formulation of recommendations for future policies relevant to EU rural areas. It will use results of on-going and past research projects (from FP6, FP7, H2020 and other EU and national funding streams) to engage citizens, stakeholders, policy makers and scientists in the development of strategic thinking and practical recommendations for the formulation of modern rural policies. The project will: i) take stock of scientific evidence relevant to future rural policy and research activities; ii) use this evidence to engage citizens, researchers and policy makers at local and EU levels in debates about options for policy and priorities for research, iii) use the outcomes of engagement to formulate recommendations for rural policies relevant the period post-2020, and future agendas for research. SHERPA aims to develop a science-society-policy interface that will continue after the end of the project. It will use a suite of approaches to science-society-policy interactions in 40 Multi-Actor Platforms covering 20 EU countries and at EU level, and state-of-the art multimedia tools for two-way communication with citizens and policy audiences. SHERPA’s implementation approach will follow four guiding principles: flexible programming of activities to enable timely and responsive contributions to policy making, impartiality and transparency; recognition of the diversity of EU rural territories and multi-level interactions; and co-construction.
SHERPA will contribute to policy development in three main areas:

  • provision of inputs for the design of future research policies, with a focus on preparation of work programmes under Horizon Europe;
  • ii) support for implementation of policies relevant to rural areas in the programming period 2021-2027;
  • iii) support for setting the direction of rural policy in the next programming period (after 2027).


To achieve these main objectives and ambitions, SHERPA has the following specific objectives:

  • To map the main drivers of future trends and dynamics of EU rural areas
  • To establish Multi-Actor Platforms as effective and sustainable Science-Society-Policy interfaces
  • To create a shared knowledge based relevant to EU rural policy by taking stock of results of past and on-going research projects
  • To engage in dialogue between citizens, researchers and policy makers from EU territories
  • To formulate recommendations linked, if needed, with different scenarios for the development of modern rural policies at European, national and regional levels


Work Package 1: Management, governance structure, coordination and Advisory Board

The overall objective of WP1 is to ensure the smooth coordination of all activities, timely implementation of the project and efficient fulfilment of administrative requirements. The specific objectives are:

  • To ensure the timely and efficient completion of tasks and deliverables; undertake quality assurance
  • To develop an effective data management plan, manage Intellectual Property Rights
  • To enable an ongoing flow of communication with the European Commission (EC)
  • To support all WP Leaders and Co-leaders in the planning and implementation of individual WPs
  • To assure quality of outputs in content, readability, and appropriateness for target audiences
  • To ensure compliance with ethical requirements

Work Package 2: Stakeholder engagement, communication and dissemination

The overall objective of WP2 is enabling two-way communication between SHERPA and its target audiences regarding project activities and findings.

  • To communicate the work of SHERPA to public, policy and scientific audiences;
  • To achieve high-quality stakeholder engagement and impact;
  • To raise awareness amongst stakeholders of project aims and objectives;
  • To provide means of two-way interactions between audiences and the SHERPA team;
  • To ensure project results reach end-users in effective ways, including outwith the project's own community and extending beyond the duration of the project.

Work Package 3: Screening of rural trends and rural policies

The overall objective of WP3 is to provide a context-based overview of rural trends and rural policies for Multi-Actor Platforms. WP3 will define boundaries of rural research and rural policies while exploring synergies and cross-cutting issues throughout these boundaries. To achieve this, WP3 has the following specific objectives:

  • To capture, analyse and map long-term trends and dynamics of EU rural areas to understand the associated drivers of these trends and how they are influenced by EU policies
  • To link definitions of ‘rural’ to policy, strategies and instruments in a multi-level governance framework
  • To monitor and update knowledge of the most relevant developments in rural policies post-2020
  • To equip the Multi-Actor Platforms with updated insights on rural trends and policies

Work Package 4: Stocktaking of relevant project results

The overall objective is to do a stock take of results of past and ongoing projects. The specific objectives are:

  • To define a methodological approach for the selection of existing rural policy research projects to take stock of evidence from past and ongoing rural-related research
  • To design, develop, update and maintain an online repository for storing:
    • systematically retrieved information from rural-related research projects and other relevant initiatives
    • outcomes of data and information processing through application of state-of-the art analytical methods
  • To produce a stock of rural-related research analysis findings, reporting:
    • emerging trends and issues, and classifications of types of information
    • ready-to-use information for exploitation in WPs 3, 6 and 7 and communication to target groups (WP2)

Work Package 5: Definition of Multi-Actor Platforms as Science-Society-Policy interfaces

The overall objective is to provide the guidance and tools for setting-up Multi-Actor Platforms, manage their facilitation, and options for their self-sustainability post-SHERPA. The specific objectives are:

  • To review the forms of science-society-policy interfaces across Europe and set-up the Multi-Actor Platforms at European, national and regional levels
  • To train and manage the Facilitators and Monitors of the Multi-Actor Platforms
  • To recommend options for the continuation of the Multi-Actor Platforms beyond the end of SHERPA

Work Package 6: Participatory Multi-Actor platforms at local, regional and national levels

The overall objective is to explore and test possibilities for improved policy stimulation and governance of rural development in a set of 40 regional platforms across Europe. The specific objectives are:

  • To optimally tune local activities, policies and research to foster rural development policy by engaging citizens, rural stakeholders, researchers and policy makers in 40 regional ‘Multi Actor Platforms’ (MAPs)
  • To run 40 regional MAPs in a two-stage approach
  • To assess (with regional actors) existing knowledge to identify research gaps on rural development
  • To assess the role and effectiveness of implemented policy in regional development in practice
  • To co-construct (with regional actors) recommendations future rural development policies
  • To test improved governance models through MAPs for regional development in practice
  • To inspire and skill these MAPs such that they continue after the end of the project

Work Package 7: Harvesting and transforming results into recommendations in co-construction with stakeholders and decision makers.

The overall objective is to co-create the recommendations for future research and policy options for future rural development through engagement with the EU, national and regional level MAPs. The specific objectives are to:

  • Run an EU level Multi-Actor Platform
  • Operate a Think Tank to synthesise knowledge from WPs 3, 4, 5 and 6 to produce knowledge accounts
  • Define and set discussion topics for the Multi-Actor Platforms in WP6
  • Co-construct recommendations for future research agendas
  • Co-construct recommendations for developing rural policies at European, national and regional levels
  • Synthesise messages for communication to citizen and policy audiences through multiple media


  • Lead partner, ECORYS (ECR) – Belgium
  • European Association for Information on Local Development (AEIDL) – Belgium
  • Centre International de Haute Etudes Agronomiques Méditerranéennes (CIHEAM-IAMM) - France
  • Agricultural University of Athens (AUA) – Greece
  • NORDREGIO (NR) – Sweden
  • Stichting Wageningen Research (WR) – The Netherlands
  • Università di Pisa (UNIPI) – Italy
  • Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) – Spain
  • The James Hutton Institute (HUT) – United-Kindgom
  • Thünen Institute (TI) – Germany
  • Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) – Belgium
  • University of Ljubljana (UL) – Slovenia
  • European Rural Development Network (ERDN)
    • Lithuanian Institute of Agrarian Economics (LAEI) - Lithuania
    • Institute of Agricultural Economics – Romanian Academy (IEA – AR) - Romania
    • Research Institute of Agricultural Economics (AKI) – Hungary
    • Institute of Agricultural Economics (IAE) – Bulgaria
    • Institue of Agricultural Economics and Information (IAEI) - -Czech Republic
  • University of Bologna (UNIBO) – Italy
  • University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) – Spain
  • CONSULAI – Portugal
  • Association des Agences de la Démocratie Locale (ALDA) - France

    No data available.

    No data available.

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