By Laura Gascón Herrero, Provincial Government of Teruel, member of Euromontana’s Board of Directors
In Spain, the G100 Rural Proofing project aims to develop a Spanish model for rural proofing. The G100 initiative is led by the social economy NGO El Hueco and is supported by the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and the region of Navarra.
Rural proofing from global to national in Spain
The impact of legislation on rural areas has been analysed for more than 15 years within the OECD and in different European countries. Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom (especially England and Northern Ireland) and within the OECD Canada and Australia are pioneers in analysing policy governance and how it affects territorial inequalities and the prosperity of vulnerable rural communities.
At European level, the 2016 Cork 2.0 Declaration called for the adoption of a Rural Guarantee Mechanism and the European Commission is currently looking at solutions to enhance rural proofing of policies in its upcoming Communication on the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas.
In Spain, over the last few years, depopulation of rural and inland areas has become prominent in the political agenda. Spain is indeed one of the countries with the lowest population densities and rapid population decline in Europe. El Hueco has been at the forefront of developing positive forward-looking solution to address this challenge. In 2021, the NGO has convened a gender-balanced group of 100 persons (G100) from different backgrounds: farmers, academics, politicians, entrepreneurs, activists, civil servants, etc. The G100 aims to enhance rural proofing by creating a mechanism to review sectoral policies from a rural perspective, taking into account their realistic possible impacts on the development, growth, employment, social well-being and environment in rural areas. The ultimate goal of such a review is to increase our quality of life and to promote policy changes that contribute to the repopulation of rural territories.
100 stakeholders to explore policy issues and solutions
The G100 initiative wants to ensure that rural communities’ aspirations and needs are heard when designing policies and budget. This initiative also intends to promote the potential of rural areas in providing innovative, inclusive and sustainable solutions to current and future challenges.
To achieve this goal, the G100 is organised as follows:
- Phase 1 – January 2021: Launch event of the project
- Phase 2 – January-June 2021: Creation of a voluntary working group of 100 people, divided into 15 thematic groups (housing, governance, employability, environment, mobility, etc.) Experts will work remotely over several months to review and identify regulations and policies that influence and / or limit rural repopulation.
- Phase 3 – June 2021: Plenary session of the 100 experts to share the diagnoses developed in the 15 groups, draw up conclusions and present them.
- Phase 4 – July – October 2021: Elaboration of policy recommendations to address the issues identified during the review phase.
- Phase 5 – November 2021: Public event to present the results and in particular the policy recommendations. A guide on these conclusions and on the Rural Guarantee Mechanism will be elaborated.
From my side, I am involved in the working group focused on European law. My experience in European projects and as Member of the Board of Directors at Euromontana provide me with some elements of comparison that are very useful. I remember discussions with French members of Euromontana on the legislative differences. In France for example, thanks to a different adaptation of European law, local markets and value chains are simplified and allow small producers to better promote their products. The adaptation of the European public procurement regulation in France also gives greater opportunities to use local products and to promote quality mountain foods.
Our national parliament already endorsed the use of rural proofing, but we need to go further in its implementation. I look forward to conducting this work, making recommendations, and seeing how we can contribute to improving the quality of life and attractiveness of rural and mountain areas in Spain. I am confident that this process can also maybe be inspiring for other members of Euromontana’s network.15 April 2021