In its Programme for Government 2019-20, the Scottish Government committed to support the development of Scotland’s rural movement:
“We will work with Scottish Rural Action and others to support the development of a rural movement that will engage with communities between rural parliaments to include a more diverse range of voices, including those in disadvantaged communities.” (p84)
Researchers at SRUC and Newcastle University were commissioned to explore the key characteristics, roles and methods of engagement employed by established rural movements in other European countries, to develop lessons to inform the Scottish approach. The report from their work was published in March 2022.
Scotland’s rural and island communities are characterised by many organisations and networks, focusing on many different activities and sectors, including agriculture, forestry, land ownership and management, economic development, education and skills, renewable energy, health and social care, and so on. Drawing on the collective strengths of these individuals and organisations to bring together rural and island communities and amplify their diverse voices is a rural movement.
Scotland’s rural movement serves two purposes:
- Community mobilisation: enabling communities to share expertise and resources;
- Policy development: advancing dialogue between communities and decision makers, enabling co-production of policy.
The Scottish Rural and Islands Parliament is a platform of the rural movement in Scotland, offering space and a process to bring communities together to share learning with each other and with policy makers. Through the European Rural Parliament it also connects Scotland with the rural movements of 42 countries.
Other platforms of the rural movement include SRUC’s Rural Exchange which helps mobilise those living and working across rural and island Scotland to provide academic researchers with information on their experiences, what is working well in their communities, and ideas and suggestions for improvements.