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The opening of rural areas to renew rural generations, jobs and farms

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - RURALIZATION (The opening of rural areas to renew rural generations, jobs and farms)

Reporting period: 2020-11-01 to 2022-04-30

A trend of unequal development exists between urban and rural areas. Economic activity is stronger in urban than rural areas. At the same time rural areas face a series of challenges, such as concentration of landownership or aging of rural population. The lack or rural regeneration will contribute to issues, such as, a reduced workforce and increased isolation in rural areas, lack of local food supply, disappearance of small farms, landscape and environmental degradation.
By 2050, the population of Europe’s urban regions is projected to increase by 24.1 million persons and will provide home to almost 50% of total EU-28 population (Eurostat, 2016). By contrast, the population of predominantly rural regions is projected to fall by 7.9 million. There is a large difference in GDP between urban and rural regions.
RURALIZATION is based on the premise that rural regeneration is needed to generate opportunities for new generations of existing and potential rural inhabitants. Newcomers and new entrants into the farming are key players for bringing innovation into rural areas. In RURALIZATION, innovation is seen as a multi-faceted concept that includes technological, social and cultural innovation. RURALIZATION looks directly at how farming can be part of this new rural reality created by ruralisation and devotes particular attention to access to land, a fundamental widespread barrier to entering farming, as well as wider issues around facilitating new entrants and succession.
A framework for research and innovation has been built by developing conceptual guidelines and an assessment framework and by analysing current literature. Key concepts are regeneration, resilience, innovation and capital frameworks. Gender issues are addressed. These guidelines have been used for the selection of case studies and regions. A guide for practitioners is developed.

Over 1500 observations of relevant megatrends, trends and weak signals, including estimations of their impacts, have been gathered and analysed to produce a selection of trend cards for 10 megatrends, 20 trends and 30 weak signals, which are published at www.ruraltrends.eu.
Over 2000 young people (18-30 years) have contributed to an inventory or dream futures of the youth, which includes the dream future location, earning a living, preferred lifestyle and accommodation and any major obstacles they foresee between dream and reality, including the expected impact of COVID-19. All types of (rural) regions are the object of future dreams and the inventory provides insight in elements, such as, lifestyle, livelihood and the obstacles foreseen for specific types of regions.
Dreams and trends have been discussed in 20 regional stakeholder workshops to discuss the potential to make these dreams come true to enable rural regeneration.

The developments of rural newcomers, new entrants into farming and successors in 10 EU member states is analysed to get a general picture of the issue, based on different types of rural contexts. Main issues for new entrants into farming are related to access to land, openness and integration into rural communities, compatibility with existing farmers, absence of policies addressed specifically to them, and access to training. Part of these aspects are also relevant for rural newcomers.
Promising practices relating to facilitating rural newcomers, new entrants into farming and farm succession have been studied by 30 case studies in 11 countries. Results have been analysed. The potential for uptake of promising practices in other regions have been discussed in regional workshops in 20 rural contexts. Comparative analysis of the cases has provided novel insights in the specific roles rural newcomers, new entrants into farming and successors can play in rural regeneration.

For many members of new generations access to land is a major obstacle in starting with farming or forestry. RURALIZATION addresses (1) legal and policy arrangements by a questionnaire addressing all EU member states and the study of 8 specific legal and policy arrangements, (2) developments in land markets and land holdings, and (3) innovative, bottom-up, practices, both by analysing and documenting 64 existing practices as by developing 10 pilot actions on 5 emerging land uses. The outcome is that both policies and markets are not favourable to new entrants into farming, nut that the innovative practices address many phases in the process of achieving access to land, such as, initiatives that support new entrants before land is identified, the organisation of farmland accessibility, the prioritisation of sustainable and multifunctional land uses, the securing of access to land for individual farmers and the enduring support to farmers after they have achieved the access to land. Four main “building blocks” for change are defined: (1) The strengthening of human capital to promote successful innovative practices; (2) adapting land regulations to new entrants; (3) boosting the role of local authorities to support transition of agricultural models and (4) changing the CAP framework so that it fosters access to land. 10 pilot actions on 5 emerging land issues have been developed. Outcomes have been discussed in regional workshops.

RURALIZATION develops both a handbook for local authorities on supporting access to land, and a good practice guide rural newcomers and new entrants to farming. National proposals for the Common Agricultural Policies are analysed in relation to generational renewal. Actions are taken to promote new policies at regional level and a range of other activities to promote policies have been started to develop.

A wide variety of Dissemination & Communication activities take place.
There is more emphasis on generational renewal of rural areas, such as in the Long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas. RURALIZATION provides tools for stakeholders to take on this challenge.
Insight in the dream futures of the youth is a novel approach resulting in key insights in the ways local stakeholders can act to attract new generations and to remove the barriers between dreams and current reality. The discussion with local stakeholders have put this on the agenda during workshops in 20 regions. We follow-up the uptake in these regions.
The analysis of case studies on promising practices has provided inspiration for other regions. Discussion in these regions with stakeholders has potential for impact of promising practices beyond their original contexts.
Next to providing insight on current innovative practices, RURALIZATION has developed novel practices for providing access to land. This has been discussed in 10 regional contexts to promote impact of novel ways to provide access to land. We are addressing policy makers, which is needed as there are only few legal and policy arrangements addressing access to land
In the last year of the project policy design and assessment will be the main focus of the project. Activities will involve a good practice guide for rural newcomers & new entrants to farming, a hand book for policy makers, policy approaches to support rural dream futures of the youth and policy assessment and communication of lessons learned.
Dissemination & communication is ongoing with new grass-root events and conferences for policy makers and a final international conference. A massive open online course will be developed to transfer knowledge to everybody interested in following it.