Convenors: Chris High, Linnaeus University, Sweden, chris.high@lnu.se (Contact person), Gusztáv Nemes Hungarian Academy of Science, Hungary.

Objectives: With this panel we will examine the potential of some of the different applied research traditions to provide theoretical and methodological resources for the implementation of Agenda 2030 in rural Europe. It therefore fits theme three of the conference: “Knowledge production, policymaking and research agendas”, especially in relation to the relationship between policy and research. As the SDGs are currently impinging on the policy agenda at the national and local level in a number of rural states, we anticipate a good response from the rural sociology research community, as well as being able to draw in researchers and practitioners from cognate fields such as international development, action research and others as detailed below.  We expect that the working group will be a good forum for forming research consortia.

Topic: The sustainable development goals (SDGs) of Agenda 2030 were ratified in 2015, and provide an international framework for countries to pursue sustainable development.  As with Agenda 21, and unlike the Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs apply to all countries. Since the launch of the SDGs, national authorities and the EU have moved to assess the implications of the goals for policy and the agenda has begun to shift towards implementation and monitoring and evaluation at different levels of governance in Europe. They will become an increasingly important instrument for co-ordinating policy at the national, regional and local level will therefore provide a strong framework for rural development along with other broad areas of public policy.

The SDGs are ambitious, and intrinsically transdisplinary in the nature of the research challenges that they pose. In rural development policy and practice the implementation will take place in an institutional landscape by important social and political histories of sustainable development policy and practice. For example, both LEADER and LA21 relate to sustainable development and have established a durable imprint on rural institutions.  This raises questions about the extent to which intelligent bricolage can mobilise social learning and how existing resources can contribute to new configurations.

This working group will consider the nature and scope of the research agenda implied by the implementation of the SDGs and take stock of the theories, methodologies and approaches at hand for working with the SDGs to contribute to improved futures for the rural areas of Europe.  We particularly welcome contributions that explore the connections between rural sociology and other fields with a cognate interest in weaving together strong theoretical development with application and social relevance, such as action research, international development, farming systems research, social geography and participatory planning.

Format: The WG will consist of a panel, where contributing authors present a brief summary of their paper.  A moderated discussion between the panel and the audience will explore the synergies and differences between the different approaches presented.