ROBUST: Talking rural-urban synergies in Lisbon

Last week my colleagues Michael Woods, Jesse Heley and I swapped snow in Wales for rain in Lisbon. Portuguese TV was dramatically reporting on the UK being stuck in a snowdrift, and our inboxes were being filled with messages about the eira mawr closing Aberystwyth University and whether planes and trains could get us home again.

But we weren’t really there for the weather.

We were taking part in a consortium meeting for the ROBUST project, which we’re a part of. The meeting brought together researchers and practice partners from across Europe: Wales to Slovenia, Finland to the Netherlands. The project focusses on rural-urban synergies, and from sustainable food to infrastructures, there was a whole lot to talk about. (We even learnt how to talk about talking about ideas in a facilitators’ workshop.)

It’s early days yet for ROBUST, with much of the research still to be done. But with a framework (thanks, Mike!) that gets us thinking about what localities mean, why development should be ‘smart’, and how places relate to each other, ideas are certainly simmering.

Special thanks to Maria Partidário and the team at Instituto Superior Técnico for giving us all the space to think with, plentiful supplies of seafood, and even a bus trip!

Image: Rural geographers on a bus trip in Mafra municipality, Portugal.