Rich in Nature, Poor in Services The Unbalanced Welfare of Fragile Rural Areas in Europe (Rovigo, Italy – 18-19 March 2016)

Call for cases
The injustice for many European rural areas is that they are rich in natural resources, like water, wood and green land, but they have difficult access to welfare services. In a coming period of scarcity and depletion of resources useful for towns and ecosystems, some marginal areas will have a relative abundance of them. Clean air, fresh water, biomasses and open spaces are concentrated in those areas from which the services are being withdrawn because of the fiscal crisis in the State. Welfare in rural areas is made up of social services (hospitals, schools, assistance) and material services provided by shops, post offices and utilities. Ageing and rarefaction of population further reduce their economic sustainability. Nevertheless, somethings also depend on bottom-up and institutional activation. Thus, there are peripheral communities with a higher degree of subsidiarity, those able to receive more grants from the regional and national governments, local enterprises cleverer at ‘exploiting’ natural resources, and rural municipalities more or less active with regard to welfare services, possibly funded with the royalties received from renewable energy plants in their territories. To date, it is therefore possible to observe both virtuous cases of welfare transformative change and innovation towards sustainability, and vicious cases in which ‘old-same’ logics are implemented in dramatically changing contexts. Cases from Italy and Europe of welfare/ecosystem service balance and imbalance will be welcomed. They can be single services as well entire local welfare systems. Both contributions based on virtuous and vicious cases will be appreciated. Possible welcome topics regard: energy (renewables) projects, water (flood/drought prevention), land and real estate use (agroforestry, CO2 absorption, new forms of property) more or less connected with health, social and education services. Integration between ecological and social services would be the focus of the cases. Green care, pooling different forms of transport, multifunctional shops and utilities, plural public services will be significant cases. The abstract describing the cases is to be submitted in Italian or English by 31 December 2015 to the following email addresses: Giorgio Osti ( and Chiara Zanetti ( call is open to scholars, administrators, welfare civil servants and social workers, ecologists, social firms managers. More information (in Italian) is on the Unbalanced Welfare webpage. In communications, English will work as the lingua franca. Most things will be in Italian. Accommodation and meals during the conference will be assured for Authors whose abstract has been accepted by the Scientific Committee. Travel costs will not be reimbursed. Accepted abstracts will be notified by 31 January 2016.

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