Day Two:Comparative perspectives of rural governance

by: Ala’ Dwairi & Carol Torres

The second day focused on comparative perspective of rural governance. After breakfast, we headed to  Kaupungintalo (Rovaniemi city hall) which was designed by the Finnish renowned architect Alvar Aalto. We discussed collaborative governance and its applications in rural regions of Lapland, given that it is the biggest city in Europe area wise. We transitioned to discussing the organization of the governance in the city, the administrative process and funding opportunities. Clearly the city is succeeding in promoting itself as a touristic destination to draw attention and funds. Nonetheless, they are facing many challenges in the decision-making process, specially that the decisions are made on a city level but have to approved regionally.

After lunch, the presentation gave a good overview on how rural regions such as Lapland could tackle the different challenges they have, through innovation and multilateral organizations. The European Union offers opportunities for member countries to finance projects and receive grants that can help to enhance the development of rural areas in the right direction. But is theory as good as reality? After this session, there was an interesting discussion about the practical side of the different programmes and schemes according to how the resources of the general budget are managed.

Moreover, in the second half of the day the discussion transitioned towards comparing multiple case studies from Finland, Canada and Ireland. Local communities are trying to unite, by overcoming their differences related to physical location, time zones and language. Creating a multilevel, multilayered and spatial form of governance that builds positively on the differences before similarities. Discussions in class led to deeply identify and understand that the main obstacle standing in the face of effective governance is the lack of powerful politicians who have the will to focus the attention on rural areas.

ICRPS has 18 nationalities this year, which brought a lot of diversity and experiences into the mix, comparing our country’s governance systems with the case studies of Europe and Canada was the final part of the second day. We reflected on our differences and similarities, arriving to a final conclusion that developed and developing countries share -to one extent- similar weaknesses in terms