The European Commission (EC) has published the long awaited Communication on the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas up to 2040.
It identifies the challenges and concerns that rural areas face, and highlights some of the most promising opportunities that are available to these regions. Based on foresight and wide consultations with citizens and other actors in rural areas, the Vision proposes a Rural Pact and a Rural Action Plan, which aim to make rural areas stronger, connected, resilient to foster well-being and prosperous.
The Rural Pact will mobilise public authorities, and stakeholders to act on the needs and aspirations of rural residents. The accompanying EU Rural Action Plan will be articulated around flagship initiatives related to:
- Creating an innovation ecosystem
- Boosting sustainable transport links and digitalisation
- Increasing environmental, climatic and social resilience
- Supporting economic diversification
SHERPA’s outcomes and findings have been considered and reported in the Communication, in particular, the SHERPA Discussion Paper and Position Paper on the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas, with contributions from 20 science-society-policy platforms.
In the Staff Working Documents accompanying the Communication, SHERPA is included within the insights from European research and innovation projects.
Particular emphasis is placed on the participatory process to elaborate the vision with the 20 Multi-Actor Platforms (MAPs), each composed of 10-15 representatives from civil society, policy and research. It highlights that people were invited to formulate their vision for a desirable future and then to reflect on enabling factors. The latter were prioritised through a survey of over 1000 rural stakeholders. Furthermore, the Communication pointed out SHERPA’s working document on the overview of existing foresight and scenario studies carried out at EU and global levels, which identifies 17 possible futures and scenarios for rural areas for time periods up to 2050.