To tackle existing and emerging rural challenges

PoliRural is a research project funded by the European Commission aiming at understanding how rural areas can attract more people for living, works and investment.

PoliRural will provide a set of knowledge resources including an inclusive learning environment where rural populations, researchers and policymakers come together to address common problems like depopulation, land abandonment and the loss of biodiversity. PoliRural will leave decision makers at different levels of government better equipped to:

  • tackle existing and emerging rural challenges
  • make rural populations more empowered 
  • hold rural areas more resilient.




In the wake of rural digitalisation, the PoliRural project provides an opportunity to improve the range of tools and techniques available for policy development processes such as text mining, machine learning and system dynamic modelling in combination with current state and foresight analyses. 

PoliRural pilot in Flanders

VITO is responsible for a pilot study in Flanders (Belgium). Provided its location at the cross-roads of Europe and an overall high population density, rural landscapes in Flanders change a lot particularly in border communities or in urban-rural zones. A detailed analysis of the current rural situation, a future rural outlook and regional rural change will be tuned to the pilot of Flanders.

The major question to be answered is how farmers and villagers can be supported to develop their businesses, remain compliant with environmental concerns, improve climate resilience and manage the highly valued rural landscape of Flanders. The localisation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), in line with the specific needs of the region, requires spatio-temporal analysis using geomatics and Copernicus remote sensing data to better respond to the region’s challenges and focus on zones and areas of action. 







This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 818496