What does the renaissance of rural and urban areas in Europe mean in practice? How to combine business, science and government in cooperation on sustainable projects under “Rurban Development”? How can cities benefit from rural development? How to be a leader of projects implemented under public-private partnership in such areas?
Gerard van Santen, the director of O-GEN in the Netherlands, answered these and other questions. As a guest lecture he met with Urban Management students. Established in 2014, O-GEN is an example of an organization that brings together nearly 300 private, public and non-governmental stakeholders, operating in the area of two Dutch provinces: Utrecht and Gelderland. The mission of O-GEN, and over 50 projects implemented, is to stimulate entrepreneurship and local initiatives at the interface of rural and urban areas in the regions, with an emphasis on innovation. This is an example of actions that respond to the challenges of cities and rural areas of modern Europe, in areas related to urban and rural transition, green energy, food technology, future farming, smart farming, bio-refinery technology, etc.
We must constantly work on various solutions. Rural development at the interface with urban areas in Europe is undergoing transformation. It’s also about healthy food, its fair production, climate change, energy transformation. Our projects are based on four themes: cooperation, efficiency, commitment and energy. We base them on such pillars as integral development of rural and urban areas, nature protection, sustainable agriculture and circular economy – says Gerard van Santen.
It is very important that Urban Management students have the opportunity to learn about such processes. Their importance will grow, and yet not everyone can see their importance. Responsibility for the city is also responsibility for its surroundings. The ability to build cooperation in such complex areas of functioning of cities and rural areas is a key element of management – emphasizes van Santen.
Classes were conducted in a workshop formula. The students had specific tasks to solve, each from the perspective of the situation in the country they come from.