‘A Better Life in Rural Areas’ is the title of a new Cork Declaration on the future of rural development in the EU.
It was drafted by key stakeholders at a two-day conference held in Cork and attended by 330 delegates from across the EU.
The declaration calls for better recognition of the rural potential to deliver innovative, inclusive and sustainable solutions for current and future societal challenges.
It lists these challenges as economic prosperity, food security, climate change, resource management, social inclusion and integration of migrants.
The document calls for a rural proofing mechanism to ensure this potential is reflected in EU policies and strategies.
Organised by the European Commission, the conference was held 20 years after the original Cork Declaration led to the recognition of rural development as a second pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy.
Promoting rural prosperity, strengthening value chains, meeting the demands of consumers for healthy food and ensuring fair and transparent contractual relations within the supply chain are among the goals of the Second Cork Declaration.
Providing farmers with effective risk management tools, investing in viability and vitality and preserving the environment are also included.
Managing natural resources, encouraging climate action, boosting knowledge and innovation, ensuring access to connectivity, overcoming the digital divide and enhancing rural governance are other aims. Advancing policy delivery and simplification and improving performance and accountability are also listed policy priorities.
Delegates said the agricultural and forestry sectors are still of great importance for the EU economy.
The need to ensure rural areas and communities remain attractive places in which to live and work by improving access to services and opportunities and fostering entrepreneurship was highlighted by participants concerned about rural exodus and youth drain.
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