DESIRA - Digitisation: Economic and Social Impacts in Rural Areas

  • Project team:

    Rösch, Christine (Project leader); Kirsten Gaber, Christina Benighaus

  • Funding:


  • Start date:


  • End date:


  • Project partners:

    Università di Pisa (Italy), The James Hutton Institute (United Kingdom), Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau FiBL (Switzerland), SISTEMA GmbH (Austria), Universidad de Córdoba (Spain), Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (Italy), Sustainable Ireland Co-operative Society Ltd (Ireland), Sociedad Aragonesa de Gestión Agroambiental SL (Spain), Association Européenne pour L’information sur le Développement Local (Belgium), Zemnieku Saeima (Latvia), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Germany), Amigo SRL (Italy), Universiteit Gent (Belgium), Stichting Wageningen Research (Netherlands), Wageningen University (Netherlands), Nodibinajums Baltic Studies Centre (Latvia), Hrvatska poljoprivredno-šumarska savjetodavna služba (Croatia), Uniwersytet Łódzki (Poland), Instituut voor Landbouw-, Visserij- en Voedingsonderzoek (Belgium), Jyvaskylan yliopisto (Finland), Institut national de la recherche agronomique (France), Athina - Erevnitiko Kentro Kainotomias Stis Technologies Tis Pliroforias Ton Epikoinonion Kai Tis Gnosis (Greece), Debreceni Egyetem (Hungary), Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (Italy), Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V. (Germany)

  • Research group:

    Sustainable Bioeconomy

Project description

Kick-off-Meeting 2019
Photo: Kick off meeting 2019

DESIRA (Digitisation: Economic and Social Impacts in Rural Areas) aims to improve the capacity of society and political bodies to respond to the challenges that digitization generates in rural areas, agriculture, and forestry, and to provide a comprehensive assessment of both opportunities and threats. To achieve its goal, DESIRA wants to build a knowledge and methodological base that makes it easier to assess the past, current and future socio-economic impacts of ICT-related innovation. The initiative seeks to embed responsible research and innovation into the practices and policies of researchers, developers, and users, as well as to provide mechanisms and tools that facilitate the evaluation of challenges and opportunities related to digitization and thus support decision-making.

DESIRA will develop the concept of Socio-Cyber-Physical Systems to advance understanding of the impact of digitization in rural areas, linking analysis directly to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Operationalizing the Responsible Research and Innovation approach, DESIRA will enroll agriculture, forestry, and rural stakeholders in co-developing scenarios and policies in Living Labs established in 20 European Regions, and a Rural Digitization Forum gathering 250 stakeholders from all Europe. A Virtual Research Environment tailored to the purposes of the project will connect all participants and allow to increase substantially the interaction within the network.

The task of ITAS is to develop a set of socio-economic impact indicators aligned to the SDGs which will be implemented into an online socio-economic impact tool. Based on this tool, a Pan-European Assessment of digitization in European rural regions will be performed. Additionally, ITAS will establish and operate a Living Lab.

This Horizon 2020 project, coordinated by the University of Pisa, Italy, brings together 25 organizations, including AEIDL, from across sectors and disciplines including research institutes, NGOs, and SMEs.


Rösch, C.
Mehr Nachhaltigkeit durch die Digitalisierung der Landwirtschaft
2023. Frühlingsakademie Nachhaltigkeit. Was ist nachhaltige Landwirtschaft? (2023), Karlsruhe, Germany, March 27–30, 2023 
Science Communication on the Internet
Journal Articles
Ferraria, A.; Bacco, M.; Gaber, K.; Jedlitschka, A.; Hess, S.; Kaipainen, J.; Koltsida, P.; Toli, E.; Brunori, G.
Drivers, barriers and impacts of digitalisation in rural areas from the viewpoint of experts
2022. Information & software technology, 145, Art.Nr. 106816. doi:10.1016/j.infsof.2021.106816
Rösch, C.; Benighaus, C.; Gaber, K.
Saurer Apfel oder Sahnehäubchen? Digitalisierung im Obstbau
2022. KIT im Rathaus "Wandel gestalten" (2022), Karlsruhe, Germany, July 18, 2022 
Gaber, K.; Rösch, C.
Use, expectations, and barriers to acceptance of digital technologies in German fruit farming
2021. Scientific Workshop - Session 3 "Farmer interaction and robotic acceptability" / World FIRA Conference - AG Robotics Forum (2021), Toulouse, France, December 7–9, 2021 
Gaber, K.; Rösch, C.
Obstanbau mit Drohnen und Roboter – ist das nachhaltig?
2021. EFFEKTE im Juni: Von Digitalbauern, Mischwäldern und Nachhaltigkeit (2021), Online, June 15, 2021 


Dr. Christine Rösch
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-22704