Among others, Europe faces two major demographic challenges: rapid depopulation in rural areas and ageing. Rural areas currently account for 28% of the population in Europe. By 2050, the population of rural regions is projected to fall by 7.9 million, with urban regions hosting nearly half of the EU-28 population (Eurostat, 2016)*.
The shrinkage causes living conditions to deteriorate in rural regions, loss of skilled labour, resources becoming underutilised, etc. (Espon, 2017). Further pressing challenges include risk of poverty and social exclusion, poor infrastructures and high unemployment rates. (EC, 2018).
With this premise, in the frame of our Erasmus+ project ARDENT, the results of the rural consultation event help the partner Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to plan the content and approach of further project outputs, namely the Rural Entrepreneurship Community-based Learning Pack (CBL Program). The Rural Entrepreneurship CBL Program is customised in accordance with the topics that arise during the rural consultation events. The identified challenges are fixed in a needs analysis report which is then produced after the rural consultation event. During the CBL teaching program, adult learners/students develop and implement entrepreneurial projects targeting improvement for the identified themes during the rural consultation events.
Therefore, taken into consideration the importance of rural consultation events, we, the ARDENT consortium, built a roadmap that lays out the details of how to plan and implement a rural consultation event, to identify the needs of the rural communities. The main steps of the roadmap are summarised in the following picture.
Furthermore, we created an in-depth strategy document includes information on the structure of the event, the identification of potential participants and moderators, the nature of discussing questions, information of promotional activities to attract stakeholders to the event. You can find this document under the section ‘roadmap’ of our ARDENT website. The roadmap also includes templates, forms, and other materials to be used during the planning, implementation, and follow-up process of the rural consultation event. Taking the roadmap as a guideline, the partner HEIs of the ARDENT project will plan and implement the consultation event in their regions and analyse the findings to be exploited during the next steps.