The Rural Pact is giving rural stakeholders a greater voice, moving their needs up the policy agenda, supporting networking, and promoting action on the ground. The Rural Pact Community Platform (RPCP) is an important tool for achieving the objectives of the Rural Pact. It is an online space that brings together all members of the Rural Pact Community.
The RPCP provided the opportunity to form Community Groups of stakeholders to facilitate structured exchanges and discussions on common areas of interest. In light of this possibility, the GRASS Ceiling expressed interest in establishing a group on women in rural areas which was announced by the Commission on 29 June as part of the Rural Pact Policy Lab held in Brussels.
GRASS Ceiling is a Horizon Europe project (2023-2025) aims to boost women-led innovation in farming and rural areas. Blanca Casares, Policy Expert at AEIDL, is coordinating this new Rural Pact Community, together with COPA-COGECA. Blanca also leads on the policy work on this project to provide recommendations and tools for policy and knowledge and innovation systems that boost women’s role in the sustainable development of agriculture and rural areas.
The Women on Rural Areas rural pact Community seeks to contribute to a greater understanding of the full contribution of women in rural areas building on the work conducted by the Horizon project GRASS Ceiling and its European Policy Forum for women-led innovation, coordinated by AEIDL and COPA-COGECA.
These new Rural Pact Communities are of particular interest for other projects with an active community of partners, use cases and Multi Annual Platforms such as SHERPA. As expressed in its Final Conference (organised by AEIDL in Brussels at the end of May) there is an appetite to continue with Science-Policy-Dialogue interchanges after the end of the Project.
The Platform provides an EU interface to allow for that exchange to continue. At the Rural Pact Policy Lab two Communities were launched, one of Smart Villages and another on Women in Rural Areas, coordinated by the GRASS CEILING project. You can join the pact and form a Community by joining here.
The Platform was presented at the Rural Pact Policy Action Lab held on 29 June 2023. This event not only aimed to introduce the platform but also provided an opportunity to build upon previous work and explore policies and actions that can foster development in rural areas affected by depopulation.
The declining population trend in many rural areas of Europe has far-reaching consequences, exacerbating socioeconomic disparities between urban and rural regions. The long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas, including the Rural Pact, aims to support the revitalization of depopulated rural areas, making them stronger, more connected, resilient, and prosperous by 2040. The rural revitalization platform is a significant step towards achieving this vision. It serves as a one-stop shop, facilitating collaboration and information exchange among rural communities, project holders, and local authorities.
This major event brought together best practices and national policies against depopulation from countries such as Spain (whose EU Presidency has just started and has this as a key priority), Italy, Finland, Portugal, Croatia, Greece, Poland among others.
The event was organised by the Rural Pact Support Office (which is provided by AEIDL) with OECD, and AEIDL´s Serafin Pazos-Vidal providing the final conclusions. Mario Milouchev, Director for CAP Strategic Plans II, Rural Areas and EU CAP Network at the European Commission Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development, provided closing comments. The Commission will use this meeting conclusion and the Rural Pact Conference in Segovia on 26 September under the Spanish EU Presidency to prepare the November Council Conclusions and set out a set of proposals for post 2027 due in January 2024.
The European Commission invites all stakeholders, policymakers, and interested parties to join the Policy Action Lab and actively participate in the collective effort to tackle rural depopulation and ensure the vitality and sustainability of Europe’s rural areas.
For more information about the Policy Action Lab and the rural revitalization platform, please visit the official event website.