Rural shrinking is a sensitive topic, so public consultation is needed for putting it honestly on the political agenda.
Nearly 60% of rural or intermediate areas in the EU experience ongoing demographic decline, affecting around 40% of EU territory and a third of its people. Legacy factors like aging populations and low birth rates contribute to this decline, while out-migration accelerates the issue.
Introducing CASPER: a partnership among five regions – South Savo (Finland), Somogy County (Hungary), Basilicata (Italy), Nouvelle-Aquitaine (France), and Podlaskie (Poland) – aiming to revitalise policies to tackle this common challenge. Our belief is that even with decreasing populations, regions can still thrive and offer a high quality of life, preserving their vitality, expertise, and cultural heritage.
Our collaboration focuses on involving citizens directly in finding solutions to depopulation challenges. By engaging locals in decision-making, we pave the way for accepting necessary changes to services. Through well-designed local strategies, we boost community resilience, combining actions to mitigate and adapt to these changes. Policy enhancements will align more closely with the well-being of current residents.
Our goal is to approach the 'shrinking' issue holistically, mobilising citizens and adopting a cross-sectoral, place-based perspective. Together, we redefine 'well-being' to nurture our most valuable resource: the people in our rural areas.