CORDIS RESULTS PACK – Rural Innovation: Developing real solutions for smart and resilient rural areas in Europe

Almost one third of Europeans live in rural areas that make up over three quarters of the EU’s total land area. These areas contribute an enormous amount to European societies and culture and are also a key arena in the fight against climate change and for better resources management. This CORDIS Results Pack features 9 EU-funded projects that have been working hard to nurture rural innovation potential and positively contribute to the EU’s long-term vision for rural areas.

Whilst all too often the cities and other urban areas are touted as the bastions of innovation with rural areas being consigned to the background, this is in fact far from the truth. Rural innovation potential is actually high and powered by a strong natural resource base and community spirit, a smart utilisation of tacit knowledge and the use of cooperation and social innovation to overcome barriers, such as weaker infrastructures and services. Rural areas have a crucial role to play in ensuring the stewardship of natural resources, as well as mitigating the effects of climate change, all ultimately enabling the transition to a truly green and sustainable Europe. For rural people to play their part, rural communities need to be smart, resilient and attractive places to live, work and visit.

This is where the European Commission’s plan for the development of a long-term vision for rural areas (EU rural vision) comes into play, officially proposed in July 2019 (as part of the Commission’s key upcoming priorities) with its consultation process launched in summer 2020. This aims to mobilise both policymakers, rural actors and citizens more broadly to encourage their participation in a dialogue on the future of Europe’s rural areas and the place they have in our society.

The end goal will be to provide a holistic vision up to 2040 that will allow for the development and implementation of innovative, inclusive and sustainable solutions tailored to rural regions in light of the climate crisis, the ongoing digital transformation and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many EU-funded projects under the Horizon 2020 programme have already been applying their skills and expertise to address the issues faced by rural areas and enhance their potential to seize opportunities and contribute to Europe’s future. Together, all of their results will contribute to fulfilling the ambitions to be laid out in the Commission’s EU rural vision.

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