Author: Merveille Ntabuhashe (AEIDL)
In a move to address the diverse needs of rural communities, the European Commission launched the Rural Pact in 2021, as part of its Long-Term Vision for EU’s rural areas. This initiative serves as a cooperative framework, uniting public authorities, civil society, businesses, academia, and citizens across various governance levels.
The Rural Pact centers around three core objectives, aiming to amplify rural voices in political discussions, structure networking and collaboration, and encourage and monitor voluntary commitments aligned with the vision. This strategic approach seeks to bring about tangible improvements by addressing the unique challenges faced by rural communities.
The Rural Pact Support Office
The Rural Pact Support Office (RPSO) aims to achieve the Rural Pact’s objectives and contribute to the broader Long-Term Vision for EU’s rural areas. Overseen by AEIDL – the European Association for Innovation in Local Development, the RPSO plays a vital role in coordinating and implementing networking activities.
As the Rural Pact gains momentum, it emerges as a promising initiative to strengthen governance in EU rural areas. With a clear focus on collaboration, inclusivity, and tangible outcomes, the Rural Pact stands as a beacon for addressing the unique challenges faced by rural communities, offering a platform for shared solutions and impactful policy shaping.
Rural Pact’s Influential role
Recent developments highlight the Rural Pact’s role as a crucial channel for Horizon projects to optimise their impact on EU policymaking. During the Rural Pact High-Level Policy Forum in Siguenza, Spain, representatives from projects such as CODECS, MOVING, SHERPA, and GRANULAR actively contributed to discussions with EU and national decision-makers and experts of rural areas. This dynamic interaction emphasises the Rural Pact’s effectiveness in shaping the future landscape of EU rural policies.
How to join the EU Rural Pact
Participation in the Rural Pact offers a range of benefits, including keeping rural areas in the political spotlight, sharing and learning from initiatives, and gaining priority access to collaborative platforms and events. The Rural Pact Community Groups, housed within the Rural Pact Community Platform, provide dedicated spaces for stakeholders to connect, exchange information, and implement joint actions. With over 2,000 organisations and individuals already on board by October 2023, the initiative demonstrates a growing commitment to collaborative efforts.
Interested parties can become part of the Rural Pact by joining one of the Community Groups. There is for instance a ‘Community group on ‘Smart Villages’, which aims to revolutionise rural communities by employing a smart vision that incorporates social, technological, and digital innovations. Engaging in a Community Group proves especially valuable for project partners and subscribers whose initiatives are reaching their conclusion. This facilitates ongoing collaboration beyond the project’s completion. Additionally, project partners and subscribers with active projects can join a Community Group to enhance the outreach and dissemination of their own project activities.
Additionally, Community members are encouraged to express their intentions on how they plan to contribute to the improvement of rural areas.