Vision

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RURALIZATION is a 4 years EU-funded project under the Horizon 2020 programme, focused on the study of problems related to rural regeneration and access to land, and the implementation of policies and activities that facilitate the entry of new generations and newcomers to the farming sector. The consortium is composed of 18 partners from 12 different countries. This diversity will guarantee a wide range of perspectives and situations, creating a wealth of knowledge positive for the participants and the interested third parties.

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The main problems the project tackle are:

1. The unequal development of urban and rural areas. The unbalanced development of growing urban areas and declining rural areas is one threat for the cohesion of the European territory. Data is clearly demonstrating this trend: population growth is expected for urban areas (12% between 2014 and 2050) whereas a decline of 7% is expected for rural areas for the same period.

2. The difference in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. The 2014 figures show that in urban regions the GDP/P was € 34,179, in intermediate regions was € 23,726 GDP/P and in rural regions was € 19,104 GDP/P.

3. The concentration of landownership. The issue of access of new generations and newcomers to the farming sector is caused by a landownership highly concentrated. In 2013, 52,2% of EU agricultural land was controlled by only 3,1% of the farms and, the 76,2% smallest farms cultivate only 11,2% of the EU land.

4. The aging of the rural population. Most farmers are above 55 years of age and only few farmers are below 35 years of age. If it isn't corrected, this trend may pose a problem in the future as there will isn't enough workforce in rural areas that will work in agriculture.

5. The insufficient opportunities for new generations in rural areas. The EU has allocated € 9.6 billion between 2007 and 2020 as specific aid to young farmers to improve competitiveness and generational renewal. But these funds lack of scope for application and the farming population continues ageing.

The project is thought to create the conditions to increase the attractiveness of rural areas for the new generations. From this focus, the project is looking for innovative practices that improve rural jobs and opportunities.

The project will be the frame to provide opportunities to existing inhabitants of rural areas and to attract rural newcomers. To ensure impact, RURALIZATION will follow a multi-actor approach: the project will involve a large variety of stakeholders’ organizations and case studies of innovative practices in a participatory, and transdisciplinary research aimed at better understanding of challenges connected with the opening of rural areas for new, innovative activities and newcomers.

The three main pillars of the project will be the identification of opportunities in rural areas, the facilitation of farming to newcomers and the development of tools to provide access to land for new generations. These pillars will be founded on a general framework for research and innovation and they will derive into relevant policy design and assessment (this is indeed structuring the work packages’ structure of the project).

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To achieve this RURALIZATION has six specific objectives:

1. To understand the issues of rural regeneration and to define specific circumstances and drivers that make some rural areas more dynamic.

2. To develop, in a multi-actor approach, those circumstances and drivers into instruments and strategies that can be replicated in other rural areas.

3. To define and assess innovative instruments and strategies to facilitate rural newcomers, new entrants into farming and access to land and to engage actors to critically review and develop these instruments and strategies to allow for adaption to wider rural contexts.

4. To provide insight in the rural dreams of new rural generations and to design policies to make these dreams come true.

5. To harvest potential growth that can be unlocked by overcoming traditional gender roles in the generational renewal of rural areas.

6. To involve relevant actors and to disseminate the project and its results to relevant actors to promote the uptake of its results by these actors to engage a process of ruralisation in which rural areas will become an exciting place for new generations.

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RURALIZATION will provide stakeholders the means to modify the trend of less and less opportunities for new generations in rural areas. It provides stakeholders insight in what rural dream futures of new generations are and provides insight in relevant trends and opportunities for the future.

The interested parties will also get access to a whole range of successful examples of the way how new generations can be accommodated: in relation to rural newcomers, new entrants into farming, farm successors and tools to provide access to land. These approaches will not only be described, assessed and analysed in RURALIZATION, but will also be discussed in other regions to study potential for application in other contexts. This will enable a sense of ownership of these ideas and their quick uptake in other rural areas.