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09.1 Rural areas in a decarbonizing society: identifying barriers and solutions for just, accepted energy transition and sustainable rural development

5419.119 (Kapteynborg)
Tuesday, June 27, 2023
15:45 - 17:15


Prof. Dr. Helena Pina
Faculty Of Arts And Humanities
University of Porto

Sustainable development and innovation in viticultural regions in Northern Portugal – some examples


In Portugal, a country of visually appealing and unforgettable wine-growing landscapes, there are obstacles to its development (environmental, economic, social, and cultural). It is urgent, however, to enhance these territories from a holistic and sustainable perspective. For this purpose, innovation is of emerging and paramount importance.
In this communication, we have selected four examples that range from valuing agrobiodiversity to inducing conservation biological control (CBC) and the consequent reduction in the use of chemicals, preserving viticultural ecosystems. On the other hand, waste such as vines branches must be valued. By integrating them into the open carbon agricultural production model, multiple biodegradable products are created, replacing plastics in addition to producing energy, handicrafts, paper, and wood.
Another viticultural waste that is also recyclable is the grape seeds. Knowing that its transformation into natural fertilizers is common, another opportunity resides in adding the crushed seeds to cotton fibers through a technological transformation into a “vegetable skin”, substitutive to leather. Thus, the carbon footprint could be reduced, and wine-growing waste could be reused. Another example refers to the laboratory production of molecules identified in red and port wines, which allow the development of new drugs for treating skin diseases.
Therefore, innovative products are obtained, providing a sustainable, holistic, and innovative development of wine-growing spaces.
Methodologically, it was made a qualitative research, based on bibliographical research, and on interviews analysis of the main mentors of the innovative projects presented.
Despite the existing problems, the results show that innovative potential of wine-growing regions is unquestionable.
Lisa Darmet
Phd Student

Contested Discourses on Extensive Livestock Farming and Climate Change: an Empirical Environmental Justice Analysis


The agricultural sector is both vulnerable to the consequences of climate change and a contributor to its effects. Livestock farming is considered as one of the agricultural sectors contributing the most to climate change (FAO, 2013). At the same time, extensive livestock farming in mountainous areas is central to the EU’s biodiversity conservation policies and is intimately linked to rural livelihoods and identities. This paper presents the preliminary results of a research, which seeks to assess how the discourses on climate change and livestock farming affect local conservation and management of mountainous zones and local stakeholders’ relationship to the landscape and to their work. We will take the Pyrénées as a case study. We draw on B. Latour’s analysis of controversies methodology (1984), in order to retrace and better understand the discourses regarding climate change and extensive livestock farming in three arenas : (i) institutional discourses (national, regional, and local levels), (ii) discourses in the Francophone media, and (iii) livestock farmers’ discourses. We also rely on an empirical environmental justice framework (Sikor et al., 2014) as our analytical lens. This allows us to center the narrative on extensive livestock farmers’ voices, which have until now been inaudible in the debates (Eychenne, 2018; Scoones, 2022), and contribute to fill this gap in the literature. This paper draws on data collected through the JPI Climate JustScapes project. This paper aims to contribute to better understanding potential resistances, or “justice barriers”, which could arise from climate change mitigation measures targeting rural land use.
Alexandru Brad
Thünen Institute of Rural Studies

Scoping the impact of policies towards greenhouse gas neutrality on living conditions in rural areas


Pursuing the aim of the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gases, the EU and Germany seek to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050 and 2045 respectively. The spatial implications of the fundamental shifts induced by these policies are, to this date, unclear. Political and professional debates are often underpinned by assumptions indicating that rural areas will be among the beneficiaries of this socio-ecological transformation. Energy transition stands to be a contributing factor to this success, as the required land is available in significant quantities and at inexpensive prices in most rural areas. On the other hand, case study research has documented instances of citizen resistance and low acceptance, for example in the expansion of wind energy or the construction of high-voltage power lines. The scholarly debate on the topic nonetheless lacks a systematic analysis of the spatially differentiated advantages and disadvantages associated with the transformation towards greenhouse gas neutrality for the living conditions in different types of rural areas (peri-urban vs. peripheral, economically strong vs. weak, etc.). In our contribution, we aim to address this knowledge gap by systematically evaluating the existing research literature. We employ the PRISMA scoping review method to identify relevant topics and (potential) spatially relevant effects on different dimensions of living conditions are charted.
Dr. Paul Jutteau
University of Perpignan

The contribution of rural areas to the energy transition through biogas. Cartography and debates analysis.


Like many other countries, France has embarked on a low-carbon transition, among other things by promoting the production of energy from renewable sources. This contribution analyses one of them, the production of energy, gas and heat from biogas that has been developing recently in France mainly since the mid-2010s. The aim here is to study the integration of this technology both in rural areas and in agricultural activity in two ways. First, the cross-analysis of databases relating to anaerobic digestion units with those relating to the organisation of space and agricultural activity, highlights that most of these power plants are located in rural areas. Statistical overview enables to differentiate the contribution of the various types of rural (but also urban) areas and agricultural regions to the energy transition via biogas and to map them thanks to GIS. These results will secondly be put into perspective thanks to a qualitative analysis of the public debates about biogas in France through the concepts of distributive and procedural justice. Several researches show that these concept help to understand local acceptance of biogas facilities. This survey shows that they also apply to the concerns toward the uneven distribution of benefits among farms but also the increasing role of energy, planning or agro-industrial companies.
Dr. Matthias Buchecker
Senior Scientist
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research

Fostering energy transition through participatory visioning of integrated regional development: Baseline findings of a governance experiment


In spite of people’s general support for energy transition, the implementation of renewable energy projects is widely blocked by local resistance. Recent literature sees a promising way out in integrating energy transition in integrated natural resource management on a region-al level. Our study aims at evaluating the potential of participatory visioning of future re-gional development for finding shared solutions on renewable energy production in the re-gion. This goal will be achieved in a comparative study that focuses on governance experiments in two Swiss and two Slovenian case studies using a quasi-experimental evaluation design. In a prestudy, the baseline measurement has been tested in the periurban Swiss region Knonaueramt. Based on the findings of with 18 regional stakeholders, a standardized PPGIS-based survey was developed and sent to a random sample of 4070 residents of the region. In spite of demanding mapping tasks, 970 questionnaires were returned (23.8%) and 623 fully completed (15.3% return rate). The analysis of the data confirmed the strong interrelation between residents’ preferences for regional development and their attitudes towards energy transition. Furthermore, respondents attitudes towards the implementation of energy transition provided clear hints that they supported an integrated regional planning approach. The implications of the baseline findings for participatory planning of regional energy transition will be discussed.

Session host

Alexandra Doernberg
Leibniz Center For Agricultural Landscape Research

Eva Eichenauer
Brandenburg University of Technology



Contact for questions about abstracts or registration: groningen@congressbydesign.com 

Contact for questions about the content of the programme: ruralgeo2023@rug.nl