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Systemic Innovation Areas for Heritage-Led Rural Regeneration: A Multilevel Repository of Best Practices

TECNALIA, Basque Research and Technology Alliance (BRTA), Parque Científico y Tecnológico de Bizkaia, Astondo Bidea, Edificio 700, E-48160 Derio, Spain
Department of Architecture, Alma Mater Studiorum—University of Bologna, Viale Risorgimento 2, 40136 Bologna, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5069;
Submission received: 12 March 2021 / Revised: 27 April 2021 / Accepted: 28 April 2021 / Published: 30 April 2021


This paper presents the result of the analysis of the data gathered from 20 Role Models (RM) case studies regarding their successful heritage-led rural regeneration models. For the study and comparison of the narratives of these Role Models two tools were used: the Community Capitals Framework, which studied the transference of capitals in each process and the identification of six Systemic Innovation Areas that allow this capital transference. A multilevel repository of best practices has been developed allowing the identification of common features, mechanisms for mobilisation of capitals and required resources that will facilitate the replication in other rural areas. The results of this work support the acknowledgement of the contribution of culture, together with cultural and natural heritage, to economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability in rural areas reinforcing the role of culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development.

1. Introduction

Since the beginning of the 2000s, culture and cultural heritage have started to be addressed as the fourth pillar of sustainable development both in European and international policy [1,2] and research [3,4,5,6]. In this framework, the rise of culture as a solution to urban, social and economic ‘diseases’ has been celebrated without precedent and heritage-led regeneration strategies have been developed and implemented in several cases around Europe and beyond [7,8].
Nevertheless, research on heritage-led development strategies has primarily focused on large cities and metropolitan areas [9] and has addressed rural areas and small towns only to a lesser degree [10,11,12]. Thus far, the link between rural development and cultural heritage has been mainly related to tourism, analysing how local development strategies based on cultural and “heritage tourism” capitalise on Cultural and Natural Heritage (CNH) as natural, cultural and built capitals [13]. Recent work has pointed out that heritage and cultural tourism could generate a positive or a negative impact and, while improving economic development, it could also exacerbate some existing problems [14,15]. Rural cultural policy is limited, related to the urban culture-led policy discourse, [9] and rural areas have been traditionally defined by what they lack (i.e., services, population, industry, innovation, financial capacity, etc.) [10] and not by what they have.
Despite this lack of attention, heritage resources can be valuable drivers for regeneration and major contributors to social cohesion and civic engagement [2] in rural areas, which are particularly rich in CNH. While in urban areas cultural heritage mostly refers to tangible and built heritage, and has often recently been linked with the creative industries sector and community-based initiatives [6,16,17], in rural areas heritage mostly refers to rural landscape management and conservation, and intangible forms of heritage, linked with traditions, social practices, performances, etc. This dichotomy has created different narratives over time around heritage-led urban and rural regeneration, the first focusing on regeneration through culture and cultural activities, highlighting the role of built, social and human capitals, the latter mostly referring to natural capital and tourism-related benefits, neglecting other rural resources and capitals.
Indeed, we argue that rural areas would benefit from a re-conceptualisation of their capitals and heritage-led regeneration opportunities, going beyond cultural and heritage-related tourism and capitalising on the CNH-related resources owned by a community. This approach is the basis of the definition of the Systemic Innovation Areas (SIAs) of Pilgrimage, Sustainable Local Food Production, Migration, Art and festivals, Integrated Landscape Management and Resilience, identified in the RURITAGE Project (H2020 GA 776465).
The main ambition of the RURITAGE project is the creation of an innovative rural regeneration paradigm based on a holistic definition of CNH, which is interpreted according to the six SIAs. The framework of the project involved the study of 20 cases, considered as Role Models (RMs) of successful heritage-led rural regeneration from Europe and beyond. In this context, we consider an RM not only as a good practice but also as a success story that can be used as a model in a different context [18]. The RMs were diverse in their context, size, objectives and problems addressed, but they all implemented a successful process of rural regeneration, capitalising their initial capitals through one, or more, of the six identified SIAs. From the beginning, it was clear that the success of these cases was the result of processes that have grown organically.
The main ambition of this paper is to systematically study these cases and extract key factors to offer alternative ways to capitalise on the cultural and natural capital of rural areas that are not limited to cultural tourism effectiveness. The Community Capitals Framework (CCF) and the RURITAGE SIAs have been used as interpretation and harmonisation tools since they facilitate the identification of main initial resources, common patterns and achieved outcomes in diverse case studies around the world. The paper aims to support also the demonstration of the contribution of cultural and natural heritage to economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability in rural areas, reinforcing the role of culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development.
This paper describes the establishment of a multilevel repository of best practices that aims to capitalise on the experience of the 20 RMs. The extracted knowledge is identified and codified through an experience mining process to support the replication of their strategies [19]. Although the identification and communication of practices that are working have been proved to be more successful than other more abstract approaches in rural areas [18,20], to our best knowledge there are no studies on how to learn and share heritage-led rural best practices. The paper also describes and discusses the first results of the processed data regarding the challenges, processes and key resources of the RMs. Finally, to support the replication of these success stories, the six SIAs have been conceptualised through the CCF. This paper also aims to reinforce the role of cultural and natural heritage as a driver of economic development, social inclusion and environmental sustainability in rural areas, acknowledging culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development.

1.1. Community Capitals Framework (CCF)

The Community Capitals Framework (CCF) was selected since it offers a structure to consider and valorise diverse natural and cultural heritage of rural areas as a first step to transform these values in other capitals (human, social, built and financial capitals) since the accumulation of different forms of capital within a community is mutually self-reinforcing [21]. Natural and cultural capitals of rural areas could be the best opportunity to foster rural development, although other capitals have to be developed jointly [22]. It also offers the possibility to capitalise on intangible, heritage especially rich in rural areas. The richness of cognitive elements, or the way individuals think and behave, could be as important for the success of a territorial system as the material resources [23].
Rural identities shape the character of the intangible networks, norms and behaviours and these intangible resources tend to be more localised and immobile [24] and therefore better preserved in rural areas than in globalised urban environments. This framework, first proposed by Emery and Flora in 2006, has been widely used in fields related to sustainable community development through social entrepreneurship in tourism [25], resilience enhancement in rural areas [26], analysis of barriers to rural development [22] or designing of community-led regional revitalisation projects [27]. Specifically, indicators and indexes to measure community capitals have been used for the analysis of farming systems in rural communities [28] or the sustainability of former mining communities [29].
The RURITAGE paradigm consists of a new understanding of CNH as a peculiarity of rural areas, converting a range of various cultural elements and relationships into a combination of factors that can drive the development and regeneration of rural areas. In this context, the CCF considers that the growth of all forms of capital (built, natural, social, human, financial and cultural) in a community can create virtuous spirals of development [21]. Within the project, six capitals have been considered: cultural (including intangible heritage), natural, built (including built cultural heritage), social (including political), human and financial using the definitions from [30] and adapting them to Ruritage (see Table 1). These capitals have been translated into a framework to measure the effectiveness of the proposed actions and practices, evaluating them as mechanisms of capital transformation (i.e., how these actions allow the transformation of the initial stock of capital to another kind of capital).
The literature already considers natural and social capital as important competitive forces for rural areas [31] and as being among the few key assets of rural areas [32]. The RURITAGE project adds cultural capital to these, as a key asset for rural areas, especially in the form of intangible cultural heritage, and aims to use the built cultural heritage as an asset within the infrastructure capital.

1.2. Systemic Innovation Areas (SIA)

Departing from relevant studies in the field and through the initial study of the RMs, six Systematic Innovation Areas (SIA) were identified as an alternative to traditional tourism-led strategies. These six SIAs are described as follows:
SIA1—Pilgrimage: Pilgrimage, holy and hiking routes are currently valuable options for sustainable and slow tourism and economic growth in Europe and all over the world [33,34]. Indeed, some observers describe ‘route tourism’ as the world’s best hope for securing sustainability in travel and tourism [35]. Thus, heritage routes represent a good opportunity for developing less explored areas with valuable CNH that appeals to external visitors.
SIA2—Sustainable Local Food Production: Using food, wine and gastronomy to profile rural localities has become a widespread way to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of both tourism and agriculture [36]. It has been linked to the development of “alternative” food networks and a resurgent enthusiasm for food products that are perceived to be traditional and local, symbolising the place and culture of the destination [2].
SIA3—Migration: Beyond the challenges presented by the migration crisis, especially in countries most affected by migrant arrivals (e.g., Greece and Italy), and by asylum applications received (e.g., Germany), the arrival of ‘incomers’ can also create opportunities for repopulation, growth and potential for rural regeneration [37,38]. In this context, CNH, in terms of local tradition, languages, art and crafts, etc. can play an important role in boosting and accelerating the process of integration and regeneration. Moreover, highlighting the positive contribution of migrants to the development of rural areas can be fundamental to the creation of an inclusive society.
SIA4—Art and festivals: Festivals and arts exhibitions have been used as a means to attract tourists and as an economic resource in many rural areas [39]. Festivals related to ancient local traditions and products, open-air arts exhibitions and landscape museums are continuously growing and represent an important source of tourism and job creation. Furthermore, arts-involved projects for youth engagement can highlight the building of social connections, self-esteem, and community knowledge, thus promoting youth entrepreneurship and a “creative rural economy”, providing aspirational jobs and examples of entrepreneurship that are particularly attractive to young people.
SIA5—Resilience: Resilience refers to the ability of human settlements to withstand and to recover quickly from external shocks. Resilience against crises not only refers to reducing risks and damage from disasters (i.e., loss of lives and assets) but also the ability to quickly bounce back to a stable state, thus underlining the need to approach societal resilience from a 360-degree systematic approach [40]. By enhancing the role of Cultural and Natural Heritage for building resilience against the dual threats of climate change and disasters and ensuring that all development is risk-assessed, rural communities can protect against losses and simultaneously boost economic growth, create jobs and livelihoods, strengthen access to health and education, and contribute to foster the responsible ownership of CNH in rural areas.
SIA6—Integrated Landscape Management: According to the European Landscape Convention [41], the public is encouraged to take an active part in Landscape protection, conserving and maintaining its heritage value, helping to steer changes brought about by economic, social or environmental necessity, and in its planning. Successful examples of participatory landscape management built on heritage—and through their integration in regional and Smart Specialisation strategies—have been demonstrated to be an important instigator of the rural renaissance.
Within RURITAGE, the presented SIAs paradigm is not just intended as a theoretical harmonisation framework, but also as a rural regeneration model that allows rural areas to sustainably develop, which also extends to the recent COVID-19 pandemic challenges and related opportunities [42].

2. Material and Methods

The research that is described in this paper is placed within the best practice research (BPR), more specifically in the “smart practice” methodology established by E.Bardach. This methodology aims to find the “mechanisms”, medium level abstractions or conceptualisations, that codify how some successful case studies exploit latent opportunities in order to extrapolate them to other complex social environments [43].
Through this work, the authors studied 20 case studies, from across the EU and beyond, to find common patterns useful for future replicators and to highlight the role of culture and heritage as crucial drivers and pillars of sustainable development and regeneration in rural areas. Case study research has been described as suitable for over time and in context holistic study of complex issues [44]. The authors have adopted the postpositivist paradigm trying to generalise to support the replication but acknowledging the limitations of the generated knowledge. To extract the knowledge from those best practices and codify it for future use, a process of experience mining was established to build a multilevel repository. This process allowed the analysis of the case studies answering the following research questions: (i) What are the main challenges and key resources to overcome them in rural areas? (ii) Are there recognisable heritage-led regeneration processes in the 20 RMs analysed? and (iii) How can the SIAs and the Community Capitals Framework (CCF) be used as a lens to support the interpretation of heritage-led regeneration strategies? Following these research questions, this paper studies the challenges that these cases were facing and the common patterns and key resources of their heritage-led processes to address these challenges. Moreover, these case studies are studied through CCF to conceptualise the six SIAs and support the replication.
For the experience mining of the best practices, a four-step process was developed: (i) selection of case studies, (ii) data gathering, (iii) structure of the analysis and (iv) building the repository.

2.1. Selection of the Case Studies

The 20 RM case studies were selected for their successful strategies in rural heritage-led development related to one of the identified SIAs. Specifically, 13 RMs were selected in 2016 during the preparation stage of the RURITAGE project, while another 7 additional RMs were selected in 2018 following an open call issued by the projects. RMs were selected according to the following criteria: (i) relevance in relation to the six SIAs, (ii) fit with principles of integrated and sustainable rural regeneration, (iii) potential transferability, and (iv) documented impact and being evidence-based. The assessment aimed at covering the six SIAs and at ensuring a balanced geographical coverage to provide evidence in diverse contexts and further enhance replicability. Between the 2 phases, 38 RMs were considered and assessed before the selection. The following table (see Table 2) lists the selected RMs from across 16 countries. A description of the RMs and evidence of their impact can be found in Appendix A.

2.2. Data Gathering

Through the involvement of these 20 diverse RMs, RURITAGE partners adopted a standardised process to gather information from the RMs through three diverse data campaigns in 2019, illustrated in Table 3.
The information was gathered within this common strategy to optimise the process and avoid overlaps. The data gathered were then analysed using the Community Capital Framework (CCF) [21] and the RURITAGE SIAs as harmonisation tools to find common patterns and replicable solutions.

2.3. Levels of Analysis

The analysis was structured in four levels: the aforementioned SIAs, the Role Models (RMs), the Role Model Actions (RMAs) and the Lessons Learnt (LLs) as illustrated in Figure 1. The RMAs are specific actions of each case study that were considered to be relevant for the heritage-led process and LL are replicable actions that can be distilled from the previous levels. This paper focuses on the analysis of the first two levels, namely the SIAs, the RMs and their relevant actions.
At the level of the RM, the specific context of each case study was investigated, together with an in-depth analysis of the factors and characteristics that led to successful heritage-led rural regeneration practices. The material collected for each RM through the three campaigns was structured in a systemic and harmonised way, to facilitate the understanding of the processes and strategies underpinning the practice. For this, four main attributes were considered: challenges, process, key resources and the transference of capitals.
For each RM, its specific geographic and economic context was described and the challenges which the area is currently facing were identified. To be comparable and to further extract replicable strategies, challenges which are commonly related to rural areas, were re-classified according to the following categories: (i) population ageing; (ii) immigration; (iii) depopulation; (iv) unemployment and (v) poverty and further validated through a review of the literature [45].
The process of each RM was sequenced in different milestones and was grouped into 13 categories: governance model and collaboration, promotion, action and financial planning (including research projects), official declaration, capacity building and professionalisation, infrastructure development (including digital and reuse of buildings), knowledge building and documentation, vision, international collaboration, model creation, events organisation, diversification and external triggers. This process facilitated the search for common patterns between RMs within the same SIA and also similar temporal frameworks. The key drivers of the regeneration and the barriers encountered that hindered the implementation were also analysed.
Among the six capitals considered in the project (cultural, natural, built, social, human and financial), these were identified as either initial, developed or achieved. In each RM, therefore, initial capital was identified, actions and mechanisms of capital transformation were described (developed) and final achievements reported (achieved). Knowledge building necessary to support the overall approach was also reported. The conceptualisation of SIAs is an abstraction of the RMs’ successful heritage-led rural regeneration practices that were analysed, which can be used for the replication and knowledge transfer of development strategies based on innovation fields. Each SIA was characterised according to the following attributes:
  • General characterisation: includes the seasonality, as a change or pattern in a given period of the year; the key resources needed to build a strategy that capitalises on unique and differentiated cultural and natural resources, the replicability potential and the driver for change, considering that the SIA can be development driven or challenge-driven.
  • Challenges: identifies to which challenges (population ageing, immigration, depopulation, unemployment and poverty), the SIA can contribute.
  • Capitals: identifies the relevance of each capital in the framework of the SIA, the initial capital needed, the required ones for development by defining general concepts or actions for improvement and the achieved ones, as expected results.

2.4. Building the Repository

The information collected during the three campaigns enabled the undertaking of a detailed analysis of the characteristics and heritage-led regeneration processes of each RM. In order to avoid losing relevant information, RMs were asked to fulfil data according to already pre-classified categories or free text. In this last case, especially in key resources characterisation and keywords, an in-depth analysis of the information received was performed and similarities across cases were sought. Inputs provided in these categories revealed similarities and, to harmonise information and provide filtering capacity, a common terminology was established, allowing for better comparison across the cases (see Table 4).

3. Results and Discussion

The experience mining process allowed a comparative study of the case studies. This paper focused on an initial analysis of the extracted knowledge.

3.1. Challenges

The five challenges identified, together with RMs, denote typical negative trends in rural areas that have been exacerbated during the last decades and which, in many cases, represent a barrier to rural development. Most of the RMs analysed faced challenges related to population ageing and depopulation of rural areas, followed by poverty, unemployment and immigration (see Table 5). In most of the cases RMs, by their strategies, had to address more than one challenge, typically between two and four. Most of the SIAs are related to challenges dealing with population ageing, depopulation and poverty, while challenges related to immigration and unemployment are more specific to some of the SIAs, even though these are partially addressed by almost all of them. From the five challenges identified in the RMs (population ageing, immigration, depopulation, unemployment and poverty) four have been acknowledged by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe [45]. Migration processes have not been identified as a challenge, but, as can be seen from this study, it is a specific challenge that only the RMs from the Migration SIA (SIA3) are fully facing.
RMs related to Pilgrimage (SIA1) identified depopulation and poverty as main challenges, followed by unemployment and population ageing; Sustainable local food production (SIA2) RMs indicated depopulation and poverty as main challenges and population ageing and unemployment as partially addressed challenges; Migration (SIA3) is strictly related to the influx of immigrants, associated with population ageing, depopulation and unemployment; Arts and festivals (SIA4) mainly addressed population ageing and poverty and immigration, emphasising depopulation and unemployment to a lesser degree; RMs associated with Resilience (SIA5) faced population ageing, depopulation and poverty and partially immigration and unemployment; Integrated Landscape Management (SIA6) addressed population ageing, depopulation and poverty, followed by immigration and unemployment.

3.2. Process

As Neumeier [46] stated for social innovation processes in rural areas, developing a cause–effect model linking the factors of success and timing is not easy, but the chronological study of the processes of our RMs helps to identify the necessary steps that could lead to success. As it has been characterised worldwide, there is not a defined way to succeed in rural regeneration, but the capacity and flexibility of the rural inhabitants to address external challenges and drivers are key to determining the fate of their communities [47]. According to the narratives of the case studies, the success of the RM was in many cases the result of a combination of planned and unexpected circumstances. These latter ones turned into positive elements when stakeholders were able to capture the opportunities and possibilities given by external factors and align them with the planned process. In order to compare the different processes followed by each RM, each process was mapped according to the year in which it was initiated and the sequence of milestones that followed (see Figure 2).
There is no clear correlation between SIAs and the pattern of the process that followed for each RM. The differences are more related to the year that the RM started their processes. In the older RMs (before 2005), official recognition of the site (either cultural or natural) was generally the first triggering action of the regeneration process but in more modern ones (after 2006) the need to address common challenges that arose in recent years in Europe, such as population ageing and unemployment, make it necessary to establish a common vision first.
The two key steps that the majority of the RMs addressed have been the governance and collaboration strategies between stakeholders and the definition of clear planning of actions and financing, which in many cases was related to research or cooperation projects. In this sense, the importance of the governance model and collaborative approaches as one of the main factors for success observed in the RMs supports what the literature has already described [48]. Only one of the RMs did not undertake any of these two key steps. In most of the cases, it was noted that a key stakeholder, with leadership and influencing capacity, was necessary to ensure the financial, political and technical coordination and support for the regeneration. This role was usually taken by a Public Administration. Furthermore, the inclusion and the enthusiasm of the private sector and civil society is key to ensuring the continuation and achievement of the activities planned. Lastly, the communication and promotion of the RM were also important in 55% of the cases.

3.3. Key Resources

Each RM has several unique and differentiated cultural and natural resources that have acted as key resources for their regeneration processes. A total of 33 key resources were identified when analysing the facts that influenced the RMs’ success. The most common resources were the incidence of Natural Landscape and the Historic Assets of the sites, being the main drivers for nearly all the RMs’ regeneration processes (see Figure 3). Amongst the rest of the key resources, 19 of those played a crucial role in the regeneration process for more than one RM and 14 of those were identified as relevant in the success of just one RM each.
Reflecting on these key resources and looking at their significance on the SIAs, which provides a more comprehensive analysis, the conclusion obtained was that, in addition to the abovementioned Natural Landscape and Historic Assets significance, five other resources were relevant to one or more SIAs. Traditional skills and traditions fostered the processes in most of the SIAs (moreover taking into account that, apart from traditions themselves, the particular focus of traditions, such as Religious Traditions, Food Traditions or Cultural Traditions were identified as the key resource of certain SIAs). Additionally, Local Products and businesses, as well as local Human Resources were highly present, helping the success of two SIAs (2—Sustainable Local Food Production and 3—Migration). Geoparks were a significant resource in two SIAs (2—Sustainable Local Food Production and 6—Integrated Landscape Management). Finally, 26 key resources were particularly related to the success of sites in one SIA, and not significant at all for the rest of the SIAs.

3.4. Conceptualisation of SIAs and Transference of Capitals

Amongst the six Capitals, Cultural, Social and Natural Capital were the most relevant as the initial starting point of the sites’ Capital Transference processes (see Table 6). These three capitals were present in most of the RMs (more than 75%). Additionally, Human Capital appeared significant in 70% of the RMs. Financial and Built capitals were rarely a starting capital for the RMs. The analysis of the Capital Transference of each RM can be seen in Appendix B. This reiterates the analysis made for the challenges and the relationships with the six SIAs and, in this way, the success of the regeneration processes is more easily appreciable. Having sound initial capitals, the sites developed the processes and gained in all the capitals, particularly emphasising the success in the financial one. This means that starting from having at least two of the abovementioned three Capitals (Cultural, Social and Natural), most of the successful regeneration processes developed activities in other capitals and achieved success related to other capitals, with Financial Capital acquiring increasing significance. In other words, Financial Capital was never a starting point but a goal.
Table 7 shows the characterisation of the SIAs in relation to their key resources, highlighting potential replicability, drivers and seasonality. Concerning drivers, the analysis of the RMs has shown that there are two big groups of SIAs: the ones that can be considered as development-driven (SIA 1–2–4–6) and the ones that can be considered as challenge-driven (SIA 3–5). The former ones are related to Pilgrimage, Sustainable local food, Arts and festivals and Integrated landscape management SIAs. The latter ones are related to Migration and resilience SIAs. As already presented in Table 7 that lists initial capitals, key starting resources can be grouped to find similar patterns among RMs belonging to the same SIAs (Table 8).
As can be seen in Table 8, in general, in the development-driven RMs the initially high cultural and natural capitals are transformed, by the development of built capital, human capital (especially by capacity building) and social capital (especially by collaboration between stakeholders), in the growth of the financial capital (through job and business opportunities) together with the enrichment of the other capitals (cultural enrichment, natural heritage preservation, improvement of infrastructures, well-being enhancement and network collaboration). Similar results are obtained by challenge-driven RMs but, in their case, the initial capitals that are mobilised are more related to human and social resources. The initial capitals are core to the regeneration process; a good understanding of the resources of the territory is essential to undergo any action of valorisation, improvement and development.

4. Conclusions and Future Work

The selected RMs have demonstrably and successfully pursued heritage-led rural regeneration, resulting in increased jobs and revenues, a more sustainable tourism sector, mental well-being, ICT development and improved accessibility by exploiting natural, cultural heritage (tangible and intangible) in different ways. The RMs have, in this way, contributed to improving the quality of life of rural residents, fostering social and environmental regeneration, sustainable development and economic growth.
The challenges identified in the RMs confirmed the ones that the literature already acknowledged, except for Migration which is a specific challenge for the Migration SIA (SIA 3). Examples from this SIA, like the case of Lesvos (RM6) and the case of Asti (RM 5), show that this could be an innovative path to convert challenges into opportunities for development. In these cases, migrants’ and refugees’ arrival needed a thorough response from the community. To boost mutual understanding and integration with the local population, several educational activities, exhibitions and tours were organised, resulting in abandoned historic buildings being restored and recovered with the involvement of asylum seekers.
There is not a predetermined path towards successful heritage-led rural regeneration, but the adaptation and coping capacities to external challenges are key. This is particularly relevant for the Resilience SIA (SIA5), such as Katla Geopark (RM10) where the traditional way of spreading awareness through storytelling led to the creation of an institutional network to provide guidance to population and tourists on protective measures during and after disaster occurrence; or Psiloritis Geopark in Crete (RM9), where educational and training activities for the community are enriched by the remembrance of previous hazards. Similarly, in the Sustainable Local Food Production SIA (SIA2), the threat of the urban way of living into the rural needed an adaptive response from the communities; this is the case of Apulia region (RM3), where capacity building and cooperation between rural and urban citizens led to the maintenance of the environment by the use of gastronomy and sustainable food production.
The collected data and information obtained from RMs has been remarkable in quantity and quality, and its study has allowed the validation of six SIAs whose intersections can constitute a European model of heritage-led rural development. The initial cultural and natural capitals can be transformed through the development of built, human and social capitals, obtaining financial capital along with the development of other capitals (see Table 8). Pilgrimage SIA (SIA1) is significant in this sense, and the Way of Saint James (RM1) is a remarkable example of how initial cultural heritage values of the territory, together with built religious heritage and natural resources (landscape), were developed through recognition, protection, improvement of infrastructure and investment obtaining noteworthy upgrading on human, social and financial capitals. It is also the case of the Integrated Landscape Management SIA (SIA6) where, for example in Douro river basin (RM12), the existing natural capital was transformed by developing action plans on the dispersed built heritage, defining protected geographical indications (brand recognition) and, above all, following a strong associative and alliance process, resulting in a vibrant economic activity on the territory (financial capital). The SIA 5 (Arts and Festivals) boosts the initial cultural capital, mostly intangible heritage, to obtain better jobs and opportunities (human and financial capitals). The SIA regarding resilience (SIA5) is an exception, where the compilation of local knowledge (social memory) is key for the transformation of the initial significance of natural capital.
The analysis described in this paper was the first step in the process of analysing the RMs in the RURITAGE project. Future work will include the analysis of Role Model Actions and their relationship with cross-cutting issues and a deeper analysis of the involvement of the stakeholders. This could lead to the abstraction and conceptualisation of the lessons learnt to be included in the multilevel repository as specific and replicable strategies for replicators. Another future work should study the post-COVID situation, that could pose new opportunities for rural areas if the predicted urban “exodus” and change in global trends to domestic rural tourism are materialised [49,50].

Author Contributions

Conceptualisation: A.E., C.d.L. and S.T. methodology: A.E., M.Z., A.G., C.d.L. and S.T. formal analysis: A.E., M.Z. and A.G. investigation: A.E., M.Z., A.G., C.d.L. and S.T. data curation: A.E., M.Z. and A.G. writing—original draft preparation: A.E. writing—review and editing: A.E., M.Z., A.G., C.d.L., S.T. visualisation: A.E., M.Z. and A.G. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research was funded by H2020, grant number 776465.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Data available in a publicly accessible repository.


The authors would like to thank all the partners from the RURITAGE project and especially James Donlon for his valuable support.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Appendix A

Table A1. Description of Role Models (RM).
Table A1. Description of Role Models (RM).
SIA1RM 1—Way of Saint James (Spain)
The French Way is the most traditional path taken for pilgrims (about 60% of pilgrims) running across almost 1000 Km through a territory that possesses more than half of the Spanish heritageRelevant impact metrics: 270,000 pilgrims from 100 countries; EUR 34 mln yearly income; 5 new brands for local products; 12 fairs; 750,000 people trained.
RM 2—Mary’s way (Romania)
Although first proposed in 2006, the whole concept of developing and modernising the existing traditional pilgrimage routes into a complex network was developed in 2010.Relevant impact metrics: 1000 km of routes; 480 km mapped with services; 5000 pilgrims; Festival involving yearly 400 people.
RM 14—Digital Sanctuary (Brasil)
Estrada Real territory covers 73,000 km2 where several culturally differentiated groups live and have their own forms of social organisation and occupation of the territory and natural resources as a condition for their cultural reproduction.Relevant impact metrics: 110,000 visitors a year; Network of entities and transforming agents; In the Jubilee year it attracted 14,000 visitors; More than two decades of organising the Festival of Tiradentes
SIA2RM 3—Agro-food production in Apulia (Italy)
Traditional economic activity in Apulia is agriculture, but, in recent years, it has developed tourism while managing to preserve old traditions, history and agro-food production; developed new economic activities based on innovation and technology, focused on agro-food production.Relevant impact metrics: Technological agro-food district involving 100 companies, 12 Research entities, 14 Local administrations, local business; Increased visibility and related products
RM4—Coffee production in WH landscape (Colombia)
Palestine region is located in the coffee heart of Colombia, with the municipalities of Chinchiná and Manizales form the most important coffee triangle in the department. Coffee represents 68.52% of the municipal area.Relevant impact metrics: 195,000 tons of coffee produced yearly; 207,000 Ha cultivated within the Coffee Landscape.
RM 15—Agroecological innovations in Trento (Italy)
The production of high-quality products In Trento is supported by recovering mountain farming practices; environmentally friendly agriculture that ensures preservation and further development of cultural landscapes, safeguard of biodiversity and economic sustainability.Relevant impact metrics: Creation (2016) of the Operational Group promoting agroecological innovations; Rural Development Plan (2014–2020) for cooperation between farmers and researchers
RM 16—Smart Rural Living Lab, Penela (Portugal)
Smart Rural Living Lab (SRLL) integrates the low population density area of Penela in a competitive global world. SRLL is a centre of innovation and development for rural sustainability, where agro-food and forestry sectors are the centres of the economic model.Relevant impact metrics: 10 new companies began labouring in HIESE; Directly created more than 30 jobs; “Excellence SME” growing since 2014 and the territory has one “Gazelle Company”.
SIA3RM5—Migrants hospitality and integration in Asti Province (Italy)
The necessity of actions contrasting human trafficking joins here to the local needs, reviving and preserving local agro-food and handcrafts production heritage. Training migrants provides hospitality and avoids emergencies while helping the lack of local resources for maintaining heritage.Relevant impact metrics: 160 migrants yearly hosted; Creation of an innovative social enterprise for the rehabilitation of old traditional cultivations with organic techniques.
RM6—Boosting migrant integration with nature in Lesvos island (Greece)
The need to relieve the pressure of the migrants on this island led to the strategy of training and making them collaborate in the local cultural heritage and traditional economic activities’ safeguarding (sheep breeding and olive cultivation).Relevant impact metrics: 200 migrants yearly trained in NHMLPF; about 6000 migrants yearly hosted in Lesvos (600,000 in 2015)
SIA4RM 8—The Living Village of the Middle Age, Visegrad (Hungary)
Visegrád town is embraced by forest-clad hills. From the 1980’s public and private initiatives have launched heritage-based development, targeting tourists. Recently focus changed to developing additional innovations and networking, always aiming to support traditional activities.Relevant impact metrics: 1000 performers and 40,000 visitors coming per year for the Castle Visegrad Games; Partnerships with 6 other cities in Europe promoting Historical Festivals.
RM 17–Troglodyte village (Tunisia)
An annual international cinema festival is organised in these troglodyte dwellings dug into the mountains and showcases how the local cultural and natural heritage can be safeguarded, appreciated and interpreted by digital media and art technologies.Relevant impact metrics: Cinema Festival in Matmata annually organised since 2011; Programs and shows for young audiences; Photography contest and a short film competition in which 120 young people took part
RM7—Take Art: Sustainable Rural Arts Development (United Kingdom)
Somerset county, traditionally agricultural, started developing a rural touring process in 1986. A long vision strategy (10 years) provided the cultural framework for Take Art to be created. Curiosity and interest from local government offices and authorities helped the process launch.Relevant impact metrics: Take Art one of the UK’s most celebrated rural touring schemes; Over 750 companies and over 150,000 people; Over 50 art projects; Work with thousands of people, opportunities for all ages.
SIA5RM9—Teaching culture for learning resilience in Crete (Greece)
Livestock raising as well as agriculture are the main economic activities in Crete, with growing activities in services and tourism. Psiloritis Geopark was established and, thereinafter, the process of training and teaching culture was launched by the community together with the authorities.Relevant impact metrics: Resilience training for the community; A toolkit for resilient citizens; Researching the traditional practices to increase resilience; Guidelines for risk assessment and mitigation actions.
RM10—Natural hazards as intangible CNH for human resilience in South-Iceland (Iceland)
Starting in the sailor’s need of safety, the local community and authorities began to promote participative processes to create a cohesive resilient community. Katla geopark promotes sustainable development and places a strong emphasis on local culture and nature tourism.Relevant impact metrics: 200,000 overnight stays in Katla each year; 70–100% of local people trained (5% trained as rescue team members); 100% locals and tourists informed in case of the extreme event by SMS.
RM19—Ecomuseum in Alpi Apuane (Italy)
The Ecomuseum aims at creating a new development model for the Apuan Bioregion through the enhancement of the local heritage; economic alternatives to the monoculture of marble. It is a “pact” between institutions and citizens for territory care.Relevant impact metrics: Economic benefit and more employment: 40 LPU hired in 2016; Positive impact on the environment and landscape; 3 Municipalities funded for a multi-purpose public vehicle; Increase in visitors.
RM20—Heritage recovery after disaster in Sanriku Fukko National Park (Japan)
By understanding, utilising and conveying nature, this Build Back Better (BBB) initiative aims to build a resilient culture in Sanriku Fukko (reconstruction) National Park which is a tsunami-prone area in order to minimise the damage by future tsunamis and rapidly revive life in the area.Relevant impact metrics: Rebuilding (BBB) the park facilities damaged by the tsunami in 2011; “Michinoku Coastal Trail” launched in an area of approximately 1000 km; Monitoring the natural environment
SIA6RM 11—A CNH-led approach in Austrått manorial landscape (Norway)
In 2012 a NATO airbase was established in Ørland. Thereinafter, the CNH-led strategy was launched, generating new knowledge on the history and values of the Austrått landscape, conserving and reusing heritage houses, connecting people and formally protecting the area.Relevant impact metrics: Establishment of an integrated heritage management system; Local business opportunities; Increased tourists and employment related to tourism; Safeguarding the landscape.
RM12—Douro cultural landscape, driver for economic and social development (Spain)
The diversity of the Douro river basin represents an opportunity and a challenge for its development. Since the creation of AEICE association in 2013, the Duero-Douro has constantly innovated in culture and heritage, joining tourism initiatives for the preservation of the local values.Relevant impact metrics: 300,000 Ha of Natura2000; 20,000 cultural elements and 1000 historical towns protected; 13 new brands and labels for local products; 110 companies supported; 250 people trained.
RM 13—The Northern Headlands area of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way (Ireland)
It encompasses nine coastal counties of the West of Ireland. In 2012 a Brand Development was carried out; since then the sustainable development implementation has continued, supporting local farmers and producers in the economic regeneration activities.Relevant impact metrics: 157 discovery points, 1000 attractions and more than 2500 activities; Increased number of tourists in the region; Re-entering of private sector investment in the area.
RM 18—The Halland Model (Sweden)
An application-oriented theoretical platform with new approaches for building a conservation development. Tailor-made multi-stakeholder networks work in the historic sector together with the labour market, construction industry, property and estate owners and authorities.Relevant impact metrics: 350 new jobs, 1200 in construction; More than 130 historic buildings saved from demolition; Almost ⅓ of the regions construction workers trained in traditional techniques.

Appendix B

Table A2. Conceptualisation of RMs.
Table A2. Conceptualisation of RMs.
RM 1CHUNESCO world heritage site. historic pilgrimage routenational and international recognitionbetter promotion of cultural resources
NHnatural resources, landscapeprotectionintegrated natural and cultural values
BHhigh number of religious/historic buildingsinfrastructure improved and buildings restoredbetter safeguarding of built heritage
H capacity building, increase in pilgrims and social infrastructurejob improvement
SH increased number of associations and society to manage and promote the waynumerous initiatives of civil associations, cohesion from values, revitalisation
F increase in investmentofficial support, promotion, business creation, increase in number of pilgrims
RM 2CHhistoric pilgrimage route better safeguarding and promotion of cultural heritage
NHnatural resources, landscape better safeguarding of natural heritage
BHhigh number of religious/historic buildingsroad network improved
H capacity buildingjob improvement
SHstakeholders collaborationinternational stakeholders involvementnetworking governance
F fund raisingincreased number of pilgrims and incomes
RM 14CHreligious traditionsroute of pilgrimage developmentimproved knowledge on the route
NHhigh natural value (UNESCO biosphere reserve)
BHhistoric and religious buildingsbuildings restorationbetter safeguarding of built heritage
H capacity buildingjob improvement
SH network of stakeholdersjoint actions for CH valorisation
F increased tourism and incomes
RM 3CHtraditional gastronomy promotion and safeguarding of traditions
NHnatural resources better safeguarding of natural resources
B high number of historic buildings
HHhuman resourcescapacity buildingimproved entrepreneurial capabilities
SHnetwork of young professionalcooperation between rural and urban citizenssocial regeneration of the territory
F financing by testament production growth
RM4CHcoffee culture, UNESCO world heritage siteappreciation and international recognition, festivitiessafeguarding of the coffee landscape
NHbiodiversity, landscapeprotection and conservation of the coffee cultural landscape and wax palmbetter safeguarding of natural landscape, national heritage
B traditional historic buildings preservation of architecture
HHhigh human work in production processcapacity buildingjob improvement
SHarticulation of women coffee producersmulti-stakeholder cooperation, women-led rural organisationproducers assisted
F regeneration of the territory
RM 15CHtraditional gastronomy better safeguarding of farming activities
NHhigh natural value (UNESCO geopark and biosphere reserve; ecomuseum)agroecological practices implementedbetter safeguarding of natural landscape
B historic assets avoid infrastructure abandonment
HHcooperative movement and collective property rightscapacity buildingsjob improvement
SHtraditional skills in agricultureyoung farmers improved capacity in sustainable mountain livestock systemimproved resilience of farms
F fundingdiversification of farms activities to improve provision of ecosystem services
RM 16CHlatent traditionsimproved perception of traditional gastronomyself-esteem and new opportunities
NHlandscapes and natural resourcesnew products and services with high value on tourism assetsbetter safeguarding of natural resources
B abandoned buildingsreusebetter heritage preservation and new spaces for start-ups
HHhuman resourcescapacity buildingcreation of new companies and jobs
SH open innovation modelnew products and services based on rural innovation
F incubators and technology transfer, emergence of new services, systems or productsterritory as investment opportunity, EU funds
RM5CHagriculture, manufacturing, gastronomy traditionscultural sharing and training on traditional activitiescultural enrichment
N unesco world heritage site (cultural landscape) favorable climate, fields, intact environmentexperimentation with different crops, plan of territorial maintenancehydrogeological risks reduction
B abandoned buildingsplan for the restoration of the buildingshospitality structures for migrants
HHoperators with experience on migrants and refugeescatering courses, handcrafted ceramic laboratory, courses on agricultural methodsmixed teams with different profiles
SHpart of a local consortiumwiden possibilities through new partnershipsnew collaborations with non profit, profit and public entities
F funding from public sourcesnecessity of financing a new kind of expensesa mix of public and private funds for different activities within the same project
RM6CHcultural values, archaeological sites
NHnatural resources, landscape, UNESCO site (global geopark) improved safeguarding of NH
HHincreased number of refugeeseducational training and sports activitiesmigrants’ wellbeing, hazards impact reduction
SHsocial memory: Albanian integrated in the societyvolunteers (translators)migrants’ integration; healthy society
F humanitarian actionsnetworking/marketing from other European geoparks
RM 8CHhistorical event better safeguarding of cultural heritage
N natural landscape
BHhistoric monuments/sites
H establishment of enterprises involved in tourism and heritage-led projects; non-profit municipal company foundationjob improvement
SHcommunity participationcitizens’ and participants’ feeling of ownership; international networkcitizens involvement, stakeholders engagement
F financial stability; job creation in the tourism sector
RM 17CH cultural values, identityvalorisation of the public space in all its componentsbetter safeguarding of cultural heritage
N natural resources
BHtraditional underground homes better safeguarding of traditional living
H training of young people on image techniquesimproved skills in young people
SHstrong amazing identityacceptance of dissent and freedom of expression improvedmore inclusive society
F increased tourism
RM7CHtraditions, national arts policyrural touring networkinnovative cultural offer
N landscape, outdoor settingsoutdoor performancesinnovative cultural offer
B industrial, historic buildingsrefurbishmentenvironmental impact reduction
HHactive individuals and groupsmentoring programme for promotersmore confident promoters offering quality arts
SHexisting social networksuse of networks to promote arts eventsprovide opportunities and increase confidence
FHlocal community fundraising and national fundsfunding strategiesregular, sustained investment
RM9CHlocal traditionspromotion and supportnew local festivals, events, thematic parks
NHhigh natural value, nature2000geoparkbetter safeguarding of natural heritage
B trails; panels, tools
H local products improvement, people’s resilience improvedjob improvement
SH network of companiesgeopark products network
FHlow finance possibilities, local productioncollaborations, brandinggeoturism, new funds, more visitors
RM10CHtraditions and storytellingdocumentationpride, resilience
NHnatural resourcesnatural hazards mitigation; infrastructure geosites protection
B vernacular architecturerebuilding of historic houses; regulation in risk areaszoning, better structures
HHself-reliance, autarchy entrepreneurship, innovation, knowledge sharinginitiative, cooperation
SH community participation, clusterscooperation government and community
F securing of fundsgovernment funding, tourism
RM19CHlatent traditionsidentification of traditional and sustainable agro-silvo-pastoral and gastronomic activitiesbetter safeguarding of CH
NHnatural resources, landscapeidentification of tourism potential for routes recoverybetter safeguarding of NH
B historical settlements and buildingsidentification of the l elements as opportunity for sustainable development strategiesbetter safeguarding of built heritage
HHknow-how on traditional mountain economic activitiesstakeholders engagement and cooperationincrease job potential, local economy improved
SHactive local participation and awarenessparticipatory processlocal communities involvement
F municipalities budgetfunding for new projects, local products marketingpublic and private calls
RM20CHtraditionstrail as symbol of reconstructiondeeper knowledge on history and culture
NHnatural resources, landscapeconservation activities, environmental education, land owningnatural environment conserved
B historic buildingsrebuilding of park facilities, green reconstructionimproved infrastructure
HH learn the experience, better preparation for natural hazardsreactivate agriculture, fishery and forestry
S improved sense of belonging
F ecotourismlocal revitalisation
RM 11C cultural values, traditionsrecovery of food tradtionsbetter safeguarding of CH
NHnatural resources, landscapeAustrått landscape formally protectedbetter safeguarding of NH, improved natural resources
B historic buildingsreuse of historic buildings; better connection among places of interests and public facilitiesbetter safeguarding of built heritage
HHairbase human resources better accessibility
FHexternal and national economic resource
RM12CHcultural identity, shared values, world heritage sitesdesignation of origin; protected geographical indicationsbrand recognition
NHnatural resources, world heritage sitesnatural heritage as a resource
B disperse heritage buildings, world heritage sitesaction planhistoric buildings preserved
HHentities working on cultural heritagecreation of an association; collaborative work; strategic planimprove professional practice
S alliance between wine tourism and heritageparticipatory mechanisms
F revitalisation of the ch sector; creation of new business models
RM 13CHstrong traditionstraditions revivalhigh quality visitors experiences, cultural tourism
NHnatural resources, UNESCO global geoparkfood strategies, discovery points and signature points
B heritage buildingsimproved infrastructure and access
HHlocal enterprises food, textile and marine sectorincreased capabilities for enterprisesincrease job potential
SHstakeholders collaborationstrategies for development
F more investmentimproved tourism products, increased number of visitors
RM 18CHcultural activities and traditional skills traditional building techniques maintained, cultural centres
N environmentally friendly activitiesimproved environment
BH historic buildings at riskimproved premises to host cultural activities, adaptive reuse; creative industrieshistoric buildings preserved
HHtraditional skillshigh level of craftsmanship; business contributing to developmentnew business opportunities
S training programmes, cooperationensure stable labour market
F national investment among different sectorsCH budget increased, increased tourism, growth of the construction sector


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Figure 1. Levels of analysis followed during the research.
Figure 1. Levels of analysis followed during the research.
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Figure 2. Analysis of the processes followed by each RM. Each process is mapped according to the year in which it was initiated (YEAR) and the sequence of milestones that followed.
Figure 2. Analysis of the processes followed by each RM. Each process is mapped according to the year in which it was initiated (YEAR) and the sequence of milestones that followed.
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Figure 3. Key resources’ significance to RMs.
Figure 3. Key resources’ significance to RMs.
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Table 1. Community Capitals.
Table 1. Community Capitals.
CapitalsDefinitons by [30]Ruritage Approach
CULTURAL CAPITALCultural capital reflects the way people “know the world” and how they act within it, as well as their traditions and language. Cultural capital influences how creativity, innovation, and influence emerge and are nurtured. In the RURITAGE context, intangible heritage and rural traditions are some of the key assets included in this capital that the project aims to capitalise on.
NATURAL CAPITALNatural capital refers to those assets that reside in a location, including weather, geographic isolation, natural resources, amenities, and natural beauty. Natural capital shapes the cultural capital connected to a place. Natural Capital connected with biodiversity and landscape is one of the key assets that rural destinations traditionally take advantage of.
BUILT CAPITALBuilt capital refers to housing, transportation infrastructure, telecommunications infrastructure and hardware, utilities, heritage buildings and infrastructure. Historic built heritage can play a key role in the heritage-led process if it is reused and maintained from a sustainability perspective.
SOCIAL CAPITALSocial capital reflects the connections among people and organisations or the social “glue” to make things, positive or negative, happen. Bonding social capital refers to those close redundant ties that build community cohesion. Bridging social capital involves loose ties that bridge among organisations and communities. Political capital is included here and reflects access to power and to organisations and connection to resources and power brokers. Governance and political capital is included here as the ability of people to find their own voice and to engage in actions that contribute to the well-being and development of their community. In RURITAGE, social capital is understood as the capacity of the community to build sustainable economic development networks, local mobilisation of resources, and willingness to consider alternative ways of reaching goals. Community resilience is considered among the most crucial characteristics of social capital and it is built through the development of local participatory approaches.
HUMAN CAPITALHuman capital is understood to include the skills and abilities of people to develop and enhance their resources and to access outside resources and bodies of knowledge to increase their understanding, identify promising practices, and access data for community-building. In RURITAGE, human capital refers to the peculiar skills and abilities coming from rural traditions and context, and it is improved through practices that contribute to the health, training and education of the population. It is strictly linked to building local capacity linked to job and income diversification to support re-population processes.
FINANCIAL CAPITALFinancial capital refers to the financial resources available to invest in community capacity-building, to underwrite the development of businesses, to support civic and social entrepreneurship, and to accumulate wealth for future community development. In RURITAGE, the financial capital is understood as a means to achieve the growth of the other capitals supporting civic and social entrepreneurship and to accumulate wealth for future community development.
Table 2. List of Role Models (RMs) studied.
Table 2. List of Role Models (RMs) studied.
SIA1RM 1Way of Saint JamesSpain
RM 2Mary’s wayRomania
RM 14Digital SanctuaryBrasil
SIA2RM 3Agro-food production in ApuliaItaly
RM4Coffee production in WH landscapeColombia
RM 15Agroecological innovations in TrentoItaly
RM 16Smart Rural Living Lab, PenelaPortugal
SIA3RM5Migrants hospitality and integration in Asti ProvinceItaly
RM6Boosting migrant integration with nature in Lesvos islandGreece
SIA4RM 8The Living Village of the Middle Age, VisegradHungary
RM 17Troglodyte villageTunisia
RM7Take Art: Sustainable Rural Arts DevelopmentUnited Kingdom
SIA5RM9Teaching culture for learning resilience in CreteGreece
RM10Natural hazards as intangible CNH for human resilience in South-IcelandIceland
RM19Ecomuseum in Alpi ApuaneItaly
RM20Heritage recovery after disaster in Sanriku Fukko National ParkJapan
SIA6RM 11A CNH-led approach in Austrått manorial landscapeNorway
RM12Douro cultural landscape, driver for economic and social developmentSpain
RM 13The Northern Headlands area of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic WayIreland
RM 18The Halland ModelSweden
Table 3. Data gathering strategy with relevant dates, objectives and methods.
Table 3. Data gathering strategy with relevant dates, objectives and methods.
Summer campaignJuly 2018–November 2018Identification of best practices and their relevance. Context of the RM that included administrative, geographical, demography and transportation information. Narrative of the regeneration process (key factors, timeline and actors). Heritage and non-heritage resources.Spreadsheets sent to the RM case studies
Autumn campaignNovember 2018–January 2019Validation of Summer campaign results and identify and define the role and function of cross-cutting themes.Spreadsheets sent to the RM case studies
Winter campaignFebruary 2019–June 2019Fill the information gaps identified to complete the analysis from the Practices Repository and to further identify the key success factors for heritage-led rural regeneration in the sitesTargeted: bilateral validations and project workshops (Valladolid 19–22 March and Crete 28–30 May)
Table 4. Structure of the repository.
Table 4. Structure of the repository.
SIAreplicabilitykey resourceschallengesdriver for changingseasonalcapital transference mechanism keywords
development relevance
challenge initial
RMreplicabilitykey resourceschallengesdriverscontextcapital transference mechanismknowledge buildingbarriersco-benefitsprocesskeywords
ageing of the populationgeographyinitial milestone
immigrantsmain economic sectordeveloped year
depopulationsize of influenceobtained conceptual step
RMAreplicabilitykey elementsobjectives initial conditionsrelated capitalcapital transference mechanism keywords
Table 5. Challenges per RM and SIA (SIA 1 = Pilgrimage, SIA 2 = Sustainable Local Food, SIA 3 = Migration, SIA 4 = Art and festivals, SIA 5 = Resilience and SIA 6 = Landscape Management).
Table 5. Challenges per RM and SIA (SIA 1 = Pilgrimage, SIA 2 = Sustainable Local Food, SIA 3 = Migration, SIA 4 = Art and festivals, SIA 5 = Resilience and SIA 6 = Landscape Management).
Main challenges are shown in dark grey, secondary or challenges only partially addressed are shown in light grey.
Table 6. Relevance of capitals for RM (highlighted in grey colour when relevant) and SIAs (H for High Relevance, VH for Very High Relevance).
Table 6. Relevance of capitals for RM (highlighted in grey colour when relevant) and SIAs (H for High Relevance, VH for Very High Relevance).
Sustainability 13 05069 i001
Table 7. Characterisation of SIAs based on their potential replicability, driver, seasonality and key resources.
Table 7. Characterisation of SIAs based on their potential replicability, driver, seasonality and key resources.
Sustainable Local Food
Art and festivals
Landscape Management
SEASONALITYMediumDepends on the foodLowHighLowLow
  • Disperse CH
  • Pilgrimage route
  • Information about the assets
  • Cross-region governance
  • Agricultural and hostelry infrastructure
  • Intangible CH (food traditions)
  • Agricultural and human resources
  • Inclusive society
  • Dwellings
  • Openness
  • Events
  • Infrastructure
  • Recognisable brand
  • Intangible CH (music and traditions)
  • Risk knowledge
  • Training
  • Collaboration
  • Valuable landscape
  • Knowledge in CH
  • Participatory mechanisms
Table 8. Transference of capitals for SIA (C = cultural capital, N = natural capital, B = built capital, S = social capital, H = human capital and F = financial capital, H for High Relevance, VH for Very High Relevance).
Table 8. Transference of capitals for SIA (C = cultural capital, N = natural capital, B = built capital, S = social capital, H = human capital and F = financial capital, H for High Relevance, VH for Very High Relevance).
Code Rel.InitialDevelopedAchieved
SIA 1CVHreligious broad dissemination of the CH
NVHlandscape broad dissemination of the NH
BHdisperse building CHtourism/transport infrastructureimprovement of built CH
H capacity buildingbetter jobs
SH cross-region governancenetworking governance
F jobs and business opportunities through tourism
SIA2CVHgastronomy broad dissemination of the CH (gastronomy)
NVHlocal products sustainable agriculture
B hostelry infrastructure
HH capacity buildingbetter jobs
S collaboration
F jobs through services and industry
SIA3CHdiverse CH cultural enrichment
N diverse NH improved safeguarding of NH
B hospitality structures for migrantsImprovements of CH buildings
HHmigrantscapacity buildingmigrants well being
SHsocial memoryvolunteering, collaborationsocial inclusiveness
F business and jobs opportunities
SIA4CVHintangible cultural enrichment (arts)
B infrastructure for the eventsnew infrastructures/ CH restoration
H human resources for the eventsbetter jobs
S management
F job/business opportunities
SIA5CH recompilation of local knowledgebetter safeguarding of CH
NVHlandscape better safeguarding of NH
B risk knowledgebetter safeguarding of built heritage
H safer conditions
SVH stakeholder cooperation
F economic development of the area
SIA 6CVHcultural landscape CH conservation
NVHnatural landscape NH conservation
B knowledge building
H trainingbetter jobs
S collaboration between stakeholdersnetworking governance
F business and jobs opportunities through tourism
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Egusquiza, A.; Zubiaga, M.; Gandini, A.; de Luca, C.; Tondelli, S. Systemic Innovation Areas for Heritage-Led Rural Regeneration: A Multilevel Repository of Best Practices. Sustainability 2021, 13, 5069.

AMA Style

Egusquiza A, Zubiaga M, Gandini A, de Luca C, Tondelli S. Systemic Innovation Areas for Heritage-Led Rural Regeneration: A Multilevel Repository of Best Practices. Sustainability. 2021; 13(9):5069.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Egusquiza, Aitziber, Mikel Zubiaga, Alessandra Gandini, Claudia de Luca, and Simona Tondelli. 2021. "Systemic Innovation Areas for Heritage-Led Rural Regeneration: A Multilevel Repository of Best Practices" Sustainability 13, no. 9: 5069.

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