In the context of the NAT section meeting of 8 March 2021, this thematic debate will give participants the chance to discuss challenges and opportunities of balanced territorial development.
On 9 November 2016 the EESC and CoR organised a conference on balanced territorial development entitled "Cork+20: leaving rural areas behind is no longer an option". At stake was the European Commission's new rural development strategy, which would normally have to be inspired by the new Cork 2.0 Declaration that has been co-signed by stakeholders at the Cork conference on 5-6 September 2016.
Now is the time to put the Cork 2.0 Declaration into action.
The EESC opinion is the organized civil society's contribution to the follow-up of the Conference. At the public hearing on 3 May we discussed concrete actions for implementing the measures of the declaration. The trend towards a systematic prioritarization of urban areas across the whole set of EU sectoral policies must be reversed!
The EESC hearing on 14 February 2017 was an opportunity for all people who were interested in rural issues to meet, present work in progress and exchange ideas and knowledge – and get inspired by examples of successful projects and initiatives in other rural communities. Together we thought of better ways to empower the rural communities to play their full part in addressing vital policy areas such as food security, renewable energy, environmental protection and job creation.
The first Cork Declaration, adopted on 9 November 1996, forthrightly requested "a fairer balance" of public spending and investments between rural and urban areas. In the new Cork 2.0 Declaration adopted on 6 September 2016, there is only one concrete proposal with the potential to have a meaningful impact: the so called "rural proofing" whose aim would be to "systematically review other macro and sectorial policies through a rural lens".
Islands have special characteristics and therefore face particular problems. However, their very specific situation can also offer opportunities if, with the necessary effort from all parties concerned, policies are developed and implemented which create sustainable growth and, at the same time, job opportunities for the young generation, competiveness and innovation, whilst respecting the environment and cultural heritage. This conference is foreseen in the Smart Islands project, and is aimed at showcasing and discussing best practices to help islands develop in a sustainable and "smart" manner.