Introducing an inclusive strategy for resilient development of the neglected regions in Slovakia
Slovakia is one of the most economically successful countries in Central and Eastern Europe: the GBP index indicates that growth has been robust, that public debt is low and stable and that the financial sector is sound(1). Its benefits are, however, not equitably shared, with regional inequities and long-term unemployment being among the highest in the OECD and 20.5% of the population at risk of poverty (2). Labour mobility and emigration of an educated and skilled generation are some of the most unfavourable impacts of such high regional disparities. In 2017, almost one-tenth of the Slovak population was living abroad and this trend is expected to continue (3) . Internal migration occurs in the direction from the post-agricultural and deindustrialised regions in the eastern region to the more
urbanised west dominated by the capital Bratislava, where the inflow of foreign direct investment and economic capital accumulates (4).
'Soľ nad zlato' project conducted as part of M.Phil in Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Cambridge proposes a speculative strategy for resilient development of rural peripheral regions in Eastern Slovakia, whose growth model goes beyond GDP, and instead, in the process of generating Rural Renaissance, calls for a revival of moral values, cooperation, tolerance and solidarity. Rural Renaissance argues against clichés associated with the Slovak countryside, i.e. that it is old-fashioned, powerless and backward-looking (5) and reintroduces it as a place full of potential and new opportunities, where people are able to exercise the right to maintain their locality in a resilient fashion. Rural Renaissance is not understood as a final stage, or the ‘best solution’ for only a particular group of people, it is a set of rules and principles which could be adopted by municipalities and local communities in a variety of locations and inform local vision in accord with local potential.
1 OECD. (2017). Boosting Social Enterprise Development: Good Practice Compendium. Paris: OECD Publishing. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264268500-en [accessed 5 October 2017]. 2 Kenneth, S. (2016). Pinpointing Poverty in Europe: New Evidence for Policy Making. Washington, DC: World Bank Group.
3 OECD. (2017).
4 Lang, T. (2015). Socio-economic and political responses to regional polarisation and socio-spatial peripheralisation in Central and eastern Europe: a research agenda. Hungarian Geographical Bulletin, 3(64), 171-185.