A song to fight rural depopulation

Molina de Aragón is located at the heart of the biggest European demographic desert. Re-named as ‘Serranía Celtibérica’, this desert unites rural territories from different Spanish provinces, such as Saragossa, Teruel, Cuenca, Soria or Guadalajara. Having an area double that of Belgium, this desert hosts only 487,417 inhabitants at a density of 7.72 hab/km2. Moreover, this area has the largest ageing index and the lowest birth rate of the European Union, with a population density lower than Lapland.
Continue reading

Social innovation as a driver for rural innovation – highlights from the OECD conference

The 11th OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Rural Development Conference was held in Edinburgh on 9-12 April 2018. Prior to the main conference, a series of interactive sessions, led by the European Network for Rural Development, showcased projects and approaches already launched by rural communities to face 21st century challenges and opportunities.

Continue reading

Social innovations focusing on women in marginalised rural areas across Europe and the Mediterranean

This article is available in Spanish here.//Este artículo está disponible en castellano aquí.

According to the UN, “rural women play a key role in supporting their households and communities in achieving food and nutrition security, generating income, and improving rural livelihoods and overall well-being. They contribute to agriculture and rural enterprises and fuel local and global economies. As such, they are active players in achieving the Millennium Development Goals”. Rural women represent over a third of the total world population, but, in FAO’s words “they generally work as subsistence farmers, paid or unpaid workers on family farms or as entrepreneurs running on- or off-farm enterprises. In addition, women provide the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work in rural areas, thereby supporting current and future generations of rural workers within their households and communities”.

Women, as innovators, participants or beneficiaries, are playing a very relevant role in most of the social innovations collected by SIMRA. From the development of productive cooperatives in Egypt or Turkey to pooling and sharing their knowledge and expertise in the UK or Bulgaria, or setting up schemes to tackle societal issues like waste management in Lebanon or unemployment in Spain and Estonia, women are developing projects that enhance the well-being in their local communities.

Here there is a small selection of examples from our database in which women are protagonists of the social innovations developed in marginalised rural areas across Europe and the Mediterranean:

Continue reading

The day I adopted an olive tree

This article is also available in Spanish here// Este artículo está disponible en castellano aquí.

Carmen, the olive tree I have adopted. (Photo: Apadrina un olivo)
Carmen, the olive tree I have adopted. (Photo: Apadrina un olivo)

A year ago this week, I adopted an olive tree. I called it Carmen, after my grandmother. Whenever I want to know about my tree I just need to open an app that I have installed on my mobile phone. I can see pictures of it and whether it has been pruned, or what the local weather’s like, etc.… Once a year I receive two bottles of delicious olive oil. But what I love most, is that for only 50€ per year I am helping to employ people at risk of exclusion, I am helping young people to have a future in their village so they don’t have to migrate to the city, and I am preventing the closure of a local school in a village that, like so many others in inner Spain, have had to face the monsters of depopulation, ageing and loneliness. All at the same time as I am helping to recover hundred-year old olive trees and local traditions and conserve landscapes, care for the land, and support environmental, social and economic sustainability.

Continue reading

Still wondering what social innovation in rural areas looks like? Check out our new brochure!

Cet article est disponible en français ici.

This new SIMRA brochure aims at showcasing the diversity of social innovations in rural areas of Europe and the Mediterranean regions. A sneak peek of what you will find in this brochure includes revitalisation plans of a UNESCO site in Slovakia, a renewable energy community trust in the UK, sustainable fishers delivering boxes of seafood to your doorstep in Greece, or a public-private partnership to support dairy producers in Tunisia!

Continue reading

How to be a rural woman and live to tell the tale!

It’s 5 o’clock and the alarm goes off. She has breakfast and, with the radio in the background, she gets dressed for work. Milking starts at 6, but before that she needs to take the cows to the milking parlour. They aren’t many, but with the old facilities they find it hard to get in. Once she’s done, she goes back home, wakes up the children, gives them breakfast, gets them dressed, and takes them to school. Then she goes back to the farm… and resumes her work day. She does so until noon, when she cooks lunch, picks up her children, then takes them back to school, does the afternoon milking, and afterwards she brings the children back home and stays with them until they are tired and drop off to sleep. Sometimes she wishes she had a different life, a different job that didn’t enslave her and allowed her to be more in control.

Continue reading