About: The aim of the SPARD project is to develop a modelling tool that will help policy-makers to understand the causal relationships between rural development measures and their results in a spatial dimension.

Based on spatial-econometric analysis it will include ex-post evaluation options and the possible extension to ex-ante assessment with the purpose of giving support to the planning of targeted RD policies, programmes and measures. The project will compile a well-structured database, to organise both indicators from the Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (CMEF), distinguishing input, output, result, impact and baseline indicators, and other data specifically used by the RD management authorities in the Member States (MS), and extrapolate missing indicator values. This requires a procedure to standardize the utilisation of results amongst users at different levels. The emphasis of the project will be the development of an analytical framework that considers characteristics and needs of target areas and target groups. The key task of the project is to develop a quantitative model, using spatial econometric modelling. This will allow the identification of causal relationships of RD policy implementation. In this manner the cost-effectiveness of RDPs can be analysed in their spatial dimension.

Evaluations/assessments of selected policies and measures and their impacts will be made at the EU-27 scale. Furthermore it shall be demonstrated that the methodology is feasible at different scales of application and levels of data aggregation. Validation of the modelling framework will be carried out in 5 case study regions: Brandenburg (DE), North Holland (NL), Emilia Romagna (IT), Midi Pyrénées (FR) and Eastern Slovenia (SI). The end product of SPARD will be a multiple-option and variable-scale DSS tool capable for use in horizontal and vertical evaluations.

As a collaborative project, SPARD will make efforts to broaden the proved expertise of the consortium by integration of stakeholders, external experts and end-users in the overall process.

SPARD is organised in six thematic work packages.

WP1 Management and co-ordination
Leader: Annette Piorr, ZALF, Germany: apiorr@zalf.de
The objectives of WP1 are related to project management, coordination and dissemination, namely
  • administrative and scientific coordination and supervision of research activities and work progress
  • facilitation of a continuous flow of information within the project between academic partners, policy makers and stakeholders involved
  • contact with the EU Commission
  • internal and external communication, dissemination and transfer of the new knowledge generated by the project
WP2 - Knowledge- and Data Base
Leader: Wolfgang Loibl, AIT, Austria: Wolfgang.Loibl@ait.ac.at
The objective of WP2 is to provide an information infrastructure for RDP performance evaluation containing CMEF indicators and additional ones from national RD management authorities. The main tasks refer to
  • development and maintenance of an information infrastructure providing user friendly remote data access for RDP performance evaluation indicators
  • data delivery: support, harmonisation, and storage for RDP performance evaluation
WP3 Analytical framework for causal and spatial relationships
Leader: Sandra Uthes, ZALF, Germany: suthes@zalf.de
General objective of WP3 is to develop the conceptual model framework. The specific objectives are
  • establishing logical links between political objectives, rural development measures, and impacts
  • formulation of hypotheses about the causal relationships between expenditures, needs, characteristics and policy results
  • identification of target areas and target groups of rural development measures
  • selection of dependent and independent model variables to be used in WP4
WP4 Development of a Spatial Econometric Model for RDP Analysis
Leader: Stijn Reinhard, LEI, The Netherlands: Stijn.Reinhard@wur.nl
Objective of WP2 is the model development at the relevant scales NUTS 0 - NUT2 - NUTS3. Specific Tasks refer to
  • building a theoretical model for the functional relations for relevant RDP indicators (and the linkage between these indicators)
  • estimating these relations using spatial econometrics
  • testing the effect of Rural Development Measures
WP5 Validation in Case Studies Areas
Leader: Davide Viaggi, UniBologna, Italy: davide.viaggi@unibo.it
In WP5 the validation will be carried out in 5 case study areas at the main programming level (i.e. the level in which Rural development plans are designed). The selected case study areas are Brandenburg (NUTS 1, Germany), North Holland (NUTS 2, The Netherlands), Emilia Romagna (NUTS 2, Italy), Basse Normandie (NUTS 2, France) and Eastern Slovenia (NUTS 2, Slovenia).
The objective of WP5 is to prove the
  • feasibility of the methodology at different scales of application/ levels of aggregation
  • reliability of the modelling results for further specification by using and processing of data of higher or different quality (more disaggregated, higher spatial resolution, specific properties)
WP6 End-User Involvement and SPARD-Decision Support System
Leader: Sergio Gomez-Y-Paloma, JRC-IPTS, Spain: Sergio.GOMEZ-Y-PALOMA@ec.europa.eu
Ojective of WP6 is to develop the stand-alone modelling tool SPARD-DSS incl. a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that allows end users to conduct ex-post evaluations and ex-ante assessments to demonstrate CMEF indicators at different spatial scales, causal relationships at horizontal cross-country and vertical in-depth level. Specific objectives are
  • process design and requirement analysis of the interactive SPARD-DSS using software-prototyping and methods of participative end user involvements
  • developing a conceptual approach of the SPARD-DSS Tool that result in a tailored domain structure of the software architecture
  • programming of the SPARD-DSS and compatibility testing to technical setting of the data management system