As part of the project "Wendland-Elbetal - Sustainable Elbe Valley - New Work - New Ways - New Ways of Living", a model region of sustainable structural change is to be designed with local actors in the sub-regions of Lüchow-Dannenberg (Lower Saxony), Ludwigslust-Parchim (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania), Prignitz (Brandenburg) and Stendal (Saxony-Anhalt).

Potentials for the region are developed in three innovation areas (1) new work, (2) new ways and (3) new forms of living. In order to make these usable for the model region, integrated strategic approaches that focus on research, development and innovation are required in addition to a detailed inventory of the initial situation in the different sub-regions of the four-country corner. In a first step, the potential analysis "New Ways" serves as the basis for further strategic and planning activities in terms of structural change and a resilient and sustainable mobility approach as well as an overall concept that is required for the further development of the strategic WIR! alliance "Elbe Valley".

The potential analysis "New Paths" focuses on the existing transport system of the sub-regions to be studied as well as the mobility behaviour of the population. To classify the Elbe Valley region and the project, the current state of research on mobility in rural areas was presented. As structurally weak rural regions, the four districts to be studied, Lüchow-Dannenberg, Ludwigslust-Parchim, Prignitz and Stendal, show typical characteristics. Therefore, different mobility solutions for securing mobility in rural areas were first presented and the concept of resilience was examined in this context. The aim is not only to achieve a sustainable transformation process in the region with regard to structural change, but also to strengthen the region's resilience. For this purpose, various innovative approaches were presented in the thematic field of "New Ways" on how rural regions can deal with future stress and disruptive factors such as the climate crisis in a more robust and future-oriented way.

Embedded in the respective structural initial situation (demographic change, settlement structure as well as the employment and economic situation) of the districts, the current state of the transport system was examined on the basis of existing studies. In addition to the public transport offer, the current mobility behaviour was also analysed. Based on the initial transport situation, the problems and weak points of the sub-regions were identified and starting points for social and technical mobility innovations were identified, which can contribute to improving the transport system on the one hand and to securing mobility and thus social participation and services of general interest in the region on the other.

Recommendations for action for the design of a sustainable and resilient mobility system were derived on the basis of the theoretical analysis of rural mobility concepts, but primarily on the basis of existing, tested projects, schemes and initiatives in and outside the region. In addition to approaches in motorised and public transport, approaches for cycling in particular are driving innovation in the region and show a high transformative power. The topic of new drive technologies, especially in combination with approaches for public and shared transport such as cycling, also shows that active efforts already exist in the region that can contribute to an improvement of the transport system and thus initiate structural change. In addition, supra-regional examples were also described in the "New Paths" potential analysis. The analysis of comparable concepts in other rural areas can provide impulses for the successful (further) development of innovative mobility concepts in the Elbe Valley region. Together with local actors, existing and new concepts can be (further) developed on the basis of the "New Paths" potential analysis and sustainable structural change in the Elbe Valley region can be advanced on the basis of the experiences of other districts.

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The joint project "Wendland-Elbetal - Sustainable Elbe Valley - New Work - New Paths - New Forms of Living" of the Grüne Werkstatt Wendland e. V. and the district of Lüchow-Dannenberg is funded within the framework of the programme "WIR! - Change through Innovation in the Region" of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The aim is to increase regional innovative strength - socially, economically, ecologically and technically - by incorporating and further developing existing strengths and initial innovative sustainable approaches in the region to be studied. Together with the alliance partners, sustainable structural change is to be shaped with the model of a resilient region. Regional actors and stakeholders from business, science and society are involved in the joint project from the very beginning and actively support the transformation of their region. The activities of the joint project are oriented towards the sustainability innovations available in the region, but also towards supra-regional best practice examples of sustainable transformative projects in structurally weak rural areas.

The project on which this study is based was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research under the funding code 03WIR7201A (for New Pathways and New Forms of Housing) and 03WIR7201B (for New Work).

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