A second European Conference on Rural Development was organized by the European Comision, in Cork (Ireland), last September 2016. Cork 2.0 celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first Conference and the signing of the Cork Declaration on Rural Development.
Back in 1996, the Cork Declaration already noted that “agriculture and forestry are no longer predominant in Europe’s economies, their relative economic weight continues to decline and, consequently, rural development must address all socio-economic sectors in the countryside”. Today, Cork 2.0 insists that the dynamism of rural areas requires integrated strategies and multi-sectorial approaches. This includes promoting diversification, innovation, employment and business development in circular, green and fosil-free economies. Investment in public and private services, infrastructure and capacity building is required.
Opportunities include sectors like bio-economy and waste, digitalisation, climate change, networking rural-urban links, and promoting regional diversity and rural identity. The main barriers, the lack of access to private and public capital (funding), a weak capacity and infrastructure, the culture and risk aversion of rural dwellers, the lack of opportunities for young people and small businesses, and not-appropriate education.
The presentations and notes from the speeches at the Conference may be downloaded at this website.