We’re happy to report that our article on Smart Villages Policies was recently published in MDPI Sustainability. By highlighting the important role of rural development, this paper is an extensive review and synthesis of rural development policies closely related to the concept of Smart Villages.
The purpose of this study was to contribute towards enriching the academic knowledge in this field, systematize all the policies and focus on their study and analysis. Examined policies, projects and actions are divided by six areas identified to be of great importance for rural development:
- Depopulation and population aging
- Climate change and environmental services
- Change in production and diversification of the rural economy
- Infrastructure and basic services
- Digital transformation and bridging the rural–urban gap
- The social aspect of living
Data were generated, including a broad literature research and online survey on existing and future, post-2020 rural development policies. The survey was shared among project partners from six different EU Member States from the Alpine Space: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Switzerland. Based on the studied policies, projects and actions, key policy findings and future recommendations are provided, attributing to the future studies on this topic as well as for policymakers at the local, regional, national and EU levels.
We concluded that increased attractiveness for rural villages makes smart transformations in rural areas a necessity for developing sustainable Smart Villages. This is why it is so important that the idea of Smart Villages is integrated as part of the current rural development policies. Furthermore, integrated funding schemes should be established for the development of the Smart Village approach. We also highlight the importance of the development of this approach as a way of communicating the attractiveness of mountain and rural areas, allowing to connect and network with people, as well as opportunities for new employment. Policies for digital infrastructure are essential conditions for Smart Villages development in this respect.
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