Alsunga is one of two villages in the second smallest municipality in Latvia with 1 390 inhabitants. It is a good place to live, but ongoing depopulation is reducing available resources, thereby changing the living environment and the need for services. The main priorities are to develop sustainable local food and a craft market to increase marketing volumes for home-based producers. The village has also set up an open and inclusive ‘smart village action group’ to bring in ideas and concrete actions for the development of Alsunga.
Ansó is the main village in the Ansó Valley in the Pyrenees Natural Park in Spain. Its 405 inhabitants have access to simple, but ample services, including a health clinic, banks, post office, pharmacy, grocers, butcher, bakers. As many other villages, Ansó is facing the issue of depopulation and lack of housing for young people and newcomers. To address these challenges, residents have started on creating housing for letting to residents, refurbishing municipal buildings for startups and teleworkers and upgrading internet connectivity.
Babina Greda is located in Vukovar-Srijem County in Croatia and has a population of 3 585. Rich in authentic Slavonian villages, customs and culture, the municipality enjoys an active local community and a booming socio-cultural life. It strives to capitalise on community activities, attract investment in agriculture, and digitise farms in order to attract young people and revive the village.
Brestovo is a small Bulgarian village tucked into the southern outskirts of the Balkan Mountains. Despite having all the natural, cultural and historic conditions necessary to offer a decent life to its inhabitants, it is experiencing a rapid rural depopulation, with the number of its residents dropping from 2 500 to merely 120 over the past 30 years. But a small group of locals have not lost hope, they have launched a number of revival activities for sustainable local growth.
Dingle / Daingean Uí Chúis(Ireland)
Dingle / Daingean Uí Chúis is the main coastal settlement on the Dingle / Corca Dhuibhne Peninsula, one of Europe’s most westerly peninsulas. Our peninsula has a population of 12,500, of whom 3,500 live in Dingle (and environs). Our peninsula’s stunning landscapes, calendar of festivals, strong cultural heritage and distinctive identity, combined with our internationally renowned reputation as a place of welcome and hospitality have been drawing visitors to the area for generations.
The island of Kythera in Greece, also known as Tsirigo by the locals, lies at the crossroads of 3 seas and is known as the birthplace of the Goddess Aphrodite. Our island is one of the largest islands in Greece and is characterised by a large number of small settlements, with a total population of around 4000. Our greatest expectation is to keep our youth in the area, by creating the appropriate conditions for young and active people to live and work on the island.
Mouans-Sartoux is a small town, located in the French Riviera in the south-east of France. For 40 years, it has been committed to an ambitious and sustainable local food policy, aiming to protect both the environment and the health of its residents, while supporting economic development. Its challenges now are to better organise the food governance at the municipality level and increase the supply of local organic products. It believes that digital tools, innovation and smart solutions are the way to address these issues.
We are a village 35 km away from our capital Prague with 2500 permanent inhabitants (and some 500 residents who have houses in the village, but are not officially registered here). Our municipality consists of three formerly independent villages: Mukařov-Buda – an ancient settlement with our church, school, medical centre and shops laying at the crossroads of traditional trading routes, Srbín – a former agricultural village with extensive recent construction of new family houses, and Žernovka – a village known for its stonemasonry tradition.
Ostana is located in the north-western Alps, in the Po valley, in Italy. Its population went down from 1 200 inhabitants in the 1920s to six at the end of the century. Nowadays, it counts 50 and grows to 500 during the summer. Ostana has managed to recover from a depopulation rate of 99,5% by attracting a network of qualified supporters and building a system of competences and alliances. It has worked on creating better living conditions and will now focus on attracting new qualified working inhabitants and easing the creation of entrepreneurships.
The Municipality of Penela is a small territory of approximately 135 km2 and 5 983 inhabitants, located in the Centro region of Portugal. Penela has recognised the importance of defining a sustainable local strategy and is keen on developing one combining environmental excellence, high-quality education, local economic resources, and innovative and entrepreneurial culture as a way of attracting new residents and tourists.
Profondeville(Belgium - Flanders)
Profondeville is a municipality assembling six villages in the Namur Province in Belgium. All six villages count around 12 000 inhabitants. The area is famous for its rich and picturesque nature and offers a variety of outdoor activities, while Profondeville’s villages offer a vivid social life to both locals and visitors. The village wants develop a digital strategy around three main areas: improving data management, enhancing citizens’ engagement and promoting the area to tourists.
Raudanmaa is a rural area with some 600 inhabitants that consists of several small villages. People live very close to nature in our area, and this is a great asset that our villages can offer both to new residents and visitors. Our main aspiration is to be a service-oriented, innovative village where daily life runs smoothly. We want to bring new innovative enablers to boost the village economy and living conditions.
The Romanian village Remetea has a population of 6 171 inhabitants. It has strong traditions, is rich in mineral water springs and supplies, and its community has a keen entrepreneurial spirit. Remetea is eager to learn from and exchange with other villages on the way to creating an integrative development approach, including economic development, health, innovation and education.
Šentviška Gora Plateau(Slovenia)
The Šentviška Gora Plateau comprises a group of small villages in the hilly part of western Slovenia. Its 600 residents mainly engage in agriculture, mainly livestock and crop farming. The plateau is rich in cultural and natural sites, offering over 40 km of beautifully landscaped trails to hikers, runners, and cyclists. Like other rural areas, the plateau is facing the problems of ageing population and outmigration. Residents are set on raising the quality of life, preventing outmigration, attracting visitors, and providing additional sources of income for the locals.
Sollstedt is located in a rural area in the north of Thuringia, formerly part of the German Democratic Republic. Since the German reunification, Sollstedt has been heavily impacted by economic and demographic change, bringing about negative consequences. Nevertheless, Sollstedt has a vision and a strategy for the future: it intends to become smart and digital by 2030. It wants to provide the right work-life balance to families with parents aged 30 to 50, wishing for tranquillity, by offering the peace and calm of the countryside, combined with enhanced digital capacities.
Stanz im Mürztal is located in a rural area in the province of Styria in Austria. It has a total population of 1 844 inhabitants and faces the common challenges of depopulation and a small-scale economy. In 2016, it launched initiatives around improving the village centre, mobility, and overall quality of life with the active participation of the residents - the ‘Local Agenda 21’ process. Future plans are to focus on self-sufficient energy production and increase of supply from renewable energy sources to 100%.
Tomaszyn is a small village located in Warmia and Mazury. It consists of ten households and a cooperative. The region is classified as the Green Lungs of Poland and has the lowest population density in the country. The population shrunk to four farms and several vacationers reaching the lowest point in 2017. A year later, the Cooperative Ostoja Natury was set up, intended as the ‘agricultural ecosystem of tomorrow’. This organic farm is a closed circuit in which waste is fuel, it produces energy, enables year-round food production, and works more efficiently, ensuring higher yields.
Torup is situated on a peninsula between the sea and a fjord, 60 km to the northwest of Copenhagen. Its 356 inhabitants enjoy a range of initiatives and activities, building on strong local traditions, initiatives and competences. The village is working to improve its sustainability by building 100 new eco-homes and a smart heating system based on solar-power, both funded through a local fund. Torup wants to enhance the use of competences and equipment by bringing its wide range of resources to the forefront and making them accessible, especially to newcomers.
Uppony is a village of 280 inhabitants in Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen, one of the most lagging behind counties of Hungary. Population is decreasing and ageing, while unemployment is high. Its main motivation to become a ‘smart village’ is to demonstrate that even disadvantaged areas have a ‘way out’ if the right solutions are identified and implemented. The village seeks to build on its rich natural environment, archaeological sites and geological points of interest that offer a lot of potential for tourism, and on its local entrepreneurial capacities.
The Virtsu borough is situated on Virtsu peninsula on the western coast of Estonia. It has a rich history, as evidenced by various remnants and ruins, and it is close to a unique reserve park which attracts bird watchers from all over the world. Virtsu wants to overcome the challenges of depopulation, limited entrepreneurship and a fragmented community by rolling out a plan to build a business park, capitalising on wind farms for sustainable energy production and gaining inspiration through exchange with other European villages.
Vuollerim is a small village in the middle of Swedish Lapland by the Arctic Circle, neighbouring the beautiful Nordic woods. With only 700 inhabitants, the village has managed to launch about 40 non-profit associations and is home to 60 companies. The current goal is to create more visibility for Vuollerim, to attract young people and families to live and invest in the village. The area has very good internet connectivity and a lot of possibilities for digitalisation that should be capitalised on.
The Smart Rural project is a two and a half-year project supported by the European Commission (DG AGRI) with the overall aim to promote and inspire villages to develop and implement smart village approaches and strategies across Europe, and to draw conclusions and support future policy interventions on smart villages.
- Dec 2019 : Smart Rural 21 project started.
- Jan 2020 : Strategy development started with five preselected villages.
- Jan - Jun 2020 : Application to become one of the additional 16 villages.
- Jun 2020 : 16 additional villages selected & started strategy developement.