On 12 October 2021, EARLALL co-organised with E40 Group, an international consultancy, and ZSInnovation, the Centre for Social Innovation in Vienna, a workshop on Smart recovery in rural communities through youth engagement and social innovation. This workshop took place in the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities 2021.
This session was focusing on how rural recovery can be made a reality through inspiring stakeholder engagement methods – with particular focus on youth engagement, and social innovation. Among others, the session aimed to demonstrate how various funding schemes support creative citizens’ engagement methodologies that can help local communities become more resilient.
The workshop brought together knowledge and bottom-up experiences from various EU-funded initiatives. Edina Ocsko, E40 Director, presented the Preparatory Actions on Smart Rural Areas in the 21st Century project, funded by DG AGRI. The aim of this initiative is to develop and implement smart villages approaches across Europe and to draw conclusions and support future policy interventions on smart villages. Then, Wolfgang Haider, Project coordinator, presented the CERUSI Interreg Central Europe project, which implements a rural social innovation lab caravan to build skills and capacities for social innovation and social entrepreneurship. The last initiative presented was the YESpecialists Erasmus+ project. In this occasion, Barbara Harterink, Vestland County Council, coordinator of YESpecialists, presented the project and the possibilities it offers to young people. Barbara Harterink summarized the aim of the YESpecialists project saying: ‘What we want is to boost youth entrepreneurship, enabling young people to live in rural areas’. She also presented examples of young people with concrete projects, who struggle to find their place in the rural areas. She was followed by Tina Ellingsgaard, Youth worker from Ringkøbing-Skjern (Denmark). Being a member of the Youth advisory board, she gave some concrete grassroot experience of their achievements.
The event ended with a round table discussion, moderated by Edina Ocsko, tackling the question of youth involvement in local ecosystems. Among others, the question of the sustainability of the projects was also raised so that project could continue to live, even after the end of the European fundings.