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Rejuvenating the countryside

Over the last 150 years in Europe people have been moving into urban areas from rural regions. This trend continues as rates of urbanisation are predicted to increase to 83.7 % by 2050. As a result of this migration, rural regions are experiencing greater levels of poverty and social decay.

RURALIZATION EU was a project funded under the Horizon 2020 programme seeking to stop the decline of rural areas. The project consortium consisted of 18 partners from 12 different countries, including research organizations and partners looking to implement innovative practices. It concerned targeted interviews with young people in different European countries. These provided information, ideas and suggested responses for policymakers. The project hopes to encourage new people living in the countryside.

This video explains the project

The RURALIZATION project was based on the process of ‘ruralisation’ and how it can change development patterns in rural areas overcoming population and economic decline and generating new opportunities. It aims to initiate new policy-relevant knowledge. It sought to turn rural regions into a vibrant and viable place for future generations by understanding and meeting the needs and aspirations of young people. rural forum image

RURALIZATION had 18 partners from 12 different countries including not only research organizations but also partners that implement innovative practices, such as members of the Access to Land network. This diversity will guarantee a wide range of perspectives and situations thus ensuring the project will formulate solutions and recommendations which respond to the diverse needs and features of rural areas in Europe.

Members of the project team interviewed more than 2 000 young people in 20 regions what their dream future would look like in 15 years time. The survey asked where they want to live, how they want to make a living, what their preferred lifestyle would be.

The project then examined and compared existing policies and the challenges that prevent them taking place in order to establish a roadmap to help attract young people to rural areas.MOOC image

RURALIZATION summarised the main trends affecting the 20 regions covered by the survey and identified some weak signals representing symptoms of change in specific regions. The results showed that young people would like to live in rural areas.

Thirty case studies were undertaken to identify promising access to land practices, covering rural newcomers, new farming entrants and those inheriting land.

A series of 12 policy recommendations were created by RURALIZATION which focused on welcoming generational change, recognising weak signals, promoting agroecology and improving access to land. A handbook for local authorities was produced, specifically discussing access to land as pivotal for rural revitalisation.

A total of 10 pilot actions related to access to land and land stewardship were initiated, investigating how to address issues such as inheritance, agricultural intensification, land speculation, biodiversity, and innovative ownership structures.

The project has also developed a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) designed for rural development professionals and hosted by Delft University of Technology. The course helps students to analyse trends and dynamics of rural regions and learn to formulate ideas, strategies and actions to boost rural development, with a particular focus on younger generations.

RURALIZATION highlights the rejuvenation potential of rural areas. Find out more