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Sustainable Rural Development and International Immigration in the Pyrenees

Project description

How immigrants revitalise rural villages

Immigrants are helping to keep alive farming villages and other rural settlements that would have otherwise collapsed from depopulation and/or ageing. The mountainous Pyrenees region, which unites France and Spain, is no exception. Immigrants have revitalised some local societies of Pyrenean municipalities with fewer than 2 000 residents. The EU-funded SURDIM project will explore international immigration in the rural setting of the Pyrenees. It will study the immigrant pathways of labour and economic incorporation in the French and Spanish Pyrenean municipalities to identify sustainable economic projects managed or supported by immigrants, and present successful experiences in terms of rural development. Desktop research and interviews with immigrants will be conducted to shed new light on how immigration supports sustainable rural development.


International immigration is a scarcely studied phenomenon in rural Europe, even immigrants may prevent depopulation and ageing in rural areas. Filling this gap, the project studies the role of international immigrants in supporting local economies, bringing in new ideas on sustainability and revitalising the social fabric of Pyrenean municipalities with fewer than 2.000 inhabitants in four areas with contrasting economic structures in France and Spain. In line with Horizon 2020, the project helps to identify major economic opportunities for innovative companies and contribute to the Union´s competitiveness and employment in rural areas.
The research objectives are: 1) conduct a critical theoretical exercise of international immigration in rural settings; 2) analyse immigrant pathways of labour/economic incorporation in selected French and Spanish Pyrenean municipalities to identify sustainable economic projects managed/supported by immigrants, and present successful experiences in terms of rural development; 3) study settlement processes of immigrants in selected municipalities, analysing challenges for social incorporation in rural communities, and exploring issues on well-being and inter-cultural aspects; 4) continue updating and extending to other parts of Spain and France the existing Geographical Information System (GIS) in order to contribute to policy and societal debates on immigration in rural areas. Objective 1 will be achieved through comprehensive desktop research to collect and analyse scientific and policy literature relevant to locate pertinent concepts and theoretical frameworks. O2 and O3 will be attained through primary qualitative data analysis collected in semi-structured interviews with immigrants and key informants, and complemented with participant observation. Through statistical compilation and fieldwork for O2 and O3, statistical data and photo material at a local level will be incorporated into an open-access GIS (O4)


Net EU contribution
€ 172 932,48
08193 Cerdanyola Del Valles

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Este Cataluña Barcelona
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 172 932,48