On the 12-15 September 2022, the city of Kielce (Poland) hosted the 5th edition of the European Rural Parliament (ERP). It gathered more than 400 rural stakeholders from 39 Member States to share experiences, challenges and opportunities that rural areas are facing in Europe. As a result, the ERP Declaration was signed, and outlines the need for action in rural Europe around resilience to crises as well as security and solidarity.
The ERP was an incredible opportunity to boost the energy of the European rural community for the next couple of years until the next edition. It enabled exchanges and discussions around the hottest topics related to rural development and relevant for the future of rural areas. Local innovation in particular was outlined as an essential factor to ensure the transformative changes needed in local communities to address global challenges and seize the opportunities ahead of them.
An AEIDL delegation – Marta Marczis (AEIDL’s President) and Enrique Nieto (AEIDL’s Head of Policy) – participated and supported the organisation of this important stakeholder forum.
Marta accompanied a delegation from Armenia composed of local actors who are implementing LEADER in the country, an initiative supported by AEIDL. She also took part in the high level panel discussion on the Rural Pact, together with Mario Milouchev (Director of DG AGRI), Joanna Gierulska (Ministry of Agriculture, Poland), Thibaut Guignard (President of LEADER France), Tom Jones (President of ERCA) and Lidija Pavić-Rogošić (Member of the European Economic and Social Committee). Marta stressed the importance of the Rural Pact to be a place to integrate all actors involved in broad rural development and to trigger cooperation, learning and understanding among actors and neighbours.
Enrique moderated a workshop on how digitalisation and new technologies can help rural communities to thrive. He introduced the H2020 project DESIRA and the main messages emerging from this research. The workshop discussions outlined important considerations to take account of in the digitalisation of rural areas. In particular, it was highlighted that digitalisation is a complex process which is not possible to achieve just with the participation of local stakeholders. There is a need to support communities in accessing the knowledge and expertise that can guide them and help them identify and design the technological solutions needed to respond to their challenges.
AEIDL will continue with its commitment and efforts to support rural and territorial development by creating knowledge and enhancing capacities among local communities to support community-led innovation.