Rural areas have huge potential in regard to fostering the green and digital transitions. By driving sustainable management of resources, the quality of life of citizens in rural areas will be strongly improved. However, these areas need to be properly supported by forward-looking policy decisions, adequate funding and appropriate governance mechanisms and tools. Smart investment and planning could make rural regions attractive areas to develop new economic activities, provide tailor-made and more accessible public services (i.e., sustainable mobility) and connect businesses and public administrations more efficiently.
Moreover, as a result of the pandemic, the demand for digital infrastructure, services and remote solutions has boomed, driving innovation and investment. These innovative digital services, however, have great potential well beyond the pandemic context, for the long-term socio-economic development, sustainability and wellbeing of rural and remote communities.
Following the adoption of the “long-term vision for rural areas”, this session will explore the possibilities and existing initiatives that could be scaled up to make rural areas truly connected territories. During the crisis, digital technologies became an imperative to ensure the continuity of education, healthcare and production. The rapid digital transformation of these sectors and the take-up of digital tools and services across Europe has resulted in solutions which, this workshop proposes, could provide long-lasting beneficial outcomes for the sustainability and vitality of communities in rural and remote areas, if maintained and adapted beyond the pandemic context.