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The EU Rural Observatory is not GRANULAR enough

Mar 23, 2023 | News

The Rural Observatory was recently launched as a flagship initiative of the European Commission’s Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas. It was developed by the Joint Research Centre in coordination with the European Commission’s DG AGRI and DG REGIO. 

This platform provides more and better data about rural areas. In particular, the platform helps visualise how rural areas stand with respect to key economic, social and demographic indicators thanks to interactive maps and graphs. In other words, this tool facilitates “rural proofing” mechanisms by helping policymakers better consider the rural dimension. 

The Rural Observatory is structured across four functionalities: Rural focus, My place, Trends and Analysis. It also includes collaborative tools to serve the needs of rural areas and the Rural Pact Community. Several research and innovation projects will be able to contribute to the Rural Observatory, with data and indicators. 

However, there is a catch, the data and indicators that are available across the EU are not detailed (granular) enough.  However, help is on the way, a new project and coordinated by the IAMM: GRANULAR (Giving Rural Actors Novel data and re-Useable tools to Lead public Action in Rural areas). The project will develop data and tools tested in 16 pilot territories across Europe, with the final beneficiaries being policy makers and local communities for the design of appropriate policies. 

Top researchers on geographical data from across Europe met at their first in-person meeting in Montpellier, from February 1 to February 3, to address the subject of the diversity of rural areas from the angle of new data and technologies in order to provide innovative tools for a better understanding of the complexity of the challenges facing these areas face and better decision-making in local politics.   

The aim of this ground-breaking piece of work is not only to feed into the work of the JRC as it improves the Observatory but also to provide new tools to better target EU policies and funds for the post-2026 period.  However, the ambition of this project does not stop here, @ruralgranular does not only want to improve the evidence available at EU-level but also to make local decisions based on evidence. 

The participants of the project started testing their ideas on the ground by meeting a cross-section of local stakeholders involved in the development of local public policies in the nearby the field and will meet, on February 2, for a day of study in the Pyrénées-Orientales area.