Sustainable Rural Areas

Most of my work as a social researcher has been done on issues around sustainability and rural development. Keen to work across disciplines, my research interests are focused on the challenges and opportunities for sustainable development and governance of rural areas.

During my education, I specialised in sustainable local development processes and policies with a focus on the community needs. In my PhD, I investigated social exclusion in rural areas in Spain and the local policies that were in place to address it, to better understand the role of small local Councils and communities in social exclusion and inclusion processes from a socio-territorial perspective.

Since I started as a post-doc at the Centre for Mountain Studies I have been working in collaborative international projects on a diverse range of topics around the sustainability of rural territories and communities. Some of those projects are the following:

  • SHAPESustainable Heritage Areas: Partnerships for Ecotourism (Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme, 2017 – 2020). It is dedicated to developing sustainable ecotourism initiatives in protected areas that help to preserve the local heritage while boosting the local economy. Apart from coordinating the project activities and the international team of researchers and practitioners working in Biosphere Reserves and other protected areas in Finland, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Scotland, I am actively involved in developing the common methods for developing stakeholder engagement and analysing the different types of governance models in the protected areas participating in the project.
  • SIMRASocial Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas (Horizon 2020 Programme, 2016-2020). In SIMRA  I work on identifying, cataloguing and analysing examples of social innovation in marginalised rural areas in Europe and around the Mediterranean, that is, how communities and individuals organise in rural areas to face societal challenges such us depopulation or environment conservation and provide sustainable solutions through the reconfiguration of social practices. At the moment, I am working in a series of articles analysing the types of changes produced by the social innovations, the diverging paths of the initiatives, and the diversity of expertise involved in them.
  • BRIDGESBalanced Regional Development in areas with Geographic Specificities (ESPON 2020), aimed to gain a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges of mountain areas, coastal areas, islands, and sparsely populated areas in terms of competitiveness, quality of life and sustainable growth and the type of policies required. In this project, I have studied the challenges and opportunities for the production and provision of energy from renewable sources in those types of territories in Europe, with special attention to the governance and the different type of policies involved across scales, regions and countries and at European level.

My publications and conference presentations have been on a range of topics related to sustainable rural development  (stakeholder engagement, participation, local governance, local policies, the resilience of local communities, social exclusion and territorial vulnerabilities, impacts of the crisis, etc.).  My publications reflect on social exclusion and poverty in rural areas, trying to unveil the drivers of such processes –with special attention to gender inequalities- and exploring the strategies in place to tackle them, with particular attention to social innovation and social policies.

Selected publications:


I also participate regularly at international conferences on topics related to sustainability and rural issues, including the congresses organised by the European Society for Rural Sociology, where I have been convenor of working groups in 2019 on “Social innovation and social farming as drivers of transformations and changes in rural areas” and in 2015 on ‘Transformations of Social Inequalities and Welfare Approaches”.  Conferences where I have presented papers and/or organized working groups on issues related to sustainable rural development include:

  • 2019 – European Society for Rural Sociology Conference June 2019, Norway; International Social Innovation Research Conference September 2019, Scotland (forthcoming).
  • 2018 – Local opportunities through Nordic cooperation (Thurso, Scotland). International Social Innovation Research Conference 2018 (Heidelberg, Germany).
  • 2017 – UK Arctic Science Conference 2017 (Oban, Scotland). VI Congreso Red Española de Políticas Sociales. Debates para un nuevo consenso en torno al bienestar (Seville, Spain).
  • 2016 – Colloque International 25 ans de Dynamiques Rurales: La renaissance rurale d’un siècle à l’autre? (Toulouse, France); XII Congreso Español de Sociología, (Gijón, Spain)
  • 2015 – XXVI European Society for Rural Sociology Congress: Places of Possibility? Rural Societies in a Neoliberal World (Aberdeen, Scotland); XII Congreso Español de Ciencia Política y de la Administración (San Sebastián, Spain)
  • 2014 – International Conference Social Change, Challenges and Opportunities in a Time of Crisis, European Society for Rural Sociology – Southern and Mediterranean Europe Research Study Group (Évora, Portugal)
  • 2013 – International Comparative Rural Policy Studies 10 Anniversary Conference: Rural Transformations in Troubled Times: A Policy Decade in Review (Bertinoro, Italy).
  • 2012 – XIII World Congress of Rural Sociology: The New rural world: from crises to opportunities (Lisbon, Portugal), III Congreso Internacional en Gobierno, Administración y Políticas Públicas GIGAPP-IUIOG (Madrid, Spain); I Congreso Internacional en Gobernanza y Asuntos Públicos: Participación, Democracia y Gestión de la Escasez (Madrid, Spain).
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