Smart Villages in Europe
In 2017 the European Commission (EC) launched the ‘EU Action for Smart Villages’ a document that set out a working understanding of the ‘Smart Villages’ concept and established a number of actions to help promote Smart Village practices in Europe. A key action was the establishment of a working group on Smart Villages, bringing together experts and stakeholders from academia, rural government, practitioners and local authorities across Europe to identify best practices and key lessons for the promotion and development of the smart village concept. Operating under the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) between 2017-2020 this working group has supported the EU Action for Smart Villages by helping develop concepts of how the European Commission can support attractive, sustainable and resilient rural areas.
For more information on findings please visit ENDRD’s Smart Villages Portal at https://enrd.ec.europa.eu/smart-and-competitive-rural-areas/smart-villages/smart-villages-portal_en
Coordinated by the E40 Group and supported by the EC, the Smart Rural 21 project aims to support villages across Europe in developing and implementing new smart villages solutions. Running from December 2019 to June 2022, the outcomes of Smart Rural 21 will help inform future policy directions and interventions at the European level. Today the project is working with 21 villages across Europe in developing and implementing innovative new solutions for sustainable and resilient rural development.
Below sets out just some of the smart solutions developed under Smart Rural 21. To learn more about Smart Rural 21 please visit the project website at https://www.smartrural21.eu/
CéléWatt – Carayac, Lot, Occitany, France
Using locally sourced timber to develop a community-owned solar park that produces renewable energy for the village. Owned and managed by the local community, the governance of the solar park combines crowdfunding with a co-operative management structure so that the local community is empowered to take control of their own energy production. Such localised renewable energy production helps reduce pollution and provide long-term energy savings for the community.
Neighbourhood Housing Mediation Programme – Ansó, Spain
A program that aims to address housing affordability and population decline by improving access to rural housing for new residents and families. Many rural settlements contain empty homes that are at risk of vacancy and dereliction. The Neighbourhood Housing Mediation Programme serves as a mediating agent between property owners and potential tenants to help connect interested parties and bring such buildings back into productive as homes. Owners can list their properties in a database and set out the time period in which they would like to rent it. In turn, new tenants can register their interest in renting in the local village and the programme will connect them with suitable potential landlords. Aside from addressing vacancy and dereliction, supporting new people to live in the village has knock-on benefits for economic and social development.
Local Fibre-Optic Network – Raudanmaa, Finland
Using a local co-operative structure to develop a dedicated fibre-optic network for a village. Like many rural settlements the town of Raudanmaa faced challenges around telecommunications and digital access, impacting local employment and enterprise opportunities. Residents came together to plan and install their own fibre-optic network to serve residents and enterprises within the village. The project team engaged with local landowners and stakeholders to minimise potential conflicts and support local buy in and leveraged local funding to support the project. Today 80% of households within the networks operative area have joined the co-operative and avail of faster and more secure internet access.