Intervention at the closing ceremony of Delia Losa Carballido, Delegate of the Government of Spain in Asturias
Thank you very much for inviting me to participate in the closing of the second edition of the European Rural Youth Parliament.
It is an honour for me to be able to address you, young people living in the rural world, because you are the hope in the face of the serious crisis of depopulation that the rural world has been suffering for a long time and a clear example that this situation can be reversed.
My gratitude also extends to the fact that you have chosen this beautiful fishing village of Asturias, Candás, to debate these days about the present and future of the rural environment.
Asturias is a land in which, as in most of your places of origin, we live the progressive rural exodus towards the cities with the arrival of industrialization.
The phenomenon of industrialization, back in the nineteenth century, came with an enormous expectation of improvement in the quality of life, attracted thousands of people who left their traditional living environment to end up living, most of the time, crowded between concrete blocks and brick, in cities that soon became places where that improvement of dream life became, too often, a false illusion.
Since the beginning of industrialisation, the process of depopulation and abandonment of the rural environment has been long and continuous. According to the most recent data from the National Statistics Institute, in Asturias of 6,900 towns there are 3,000 villages with fewer than 10 inhabitants and 880 without a single neighbour.
We have to go back to the countryside! As the Commissioner for the Demographic Challenge of the Government of the Principality, Jaime Izquierdo, says, “we have to design a new way of living in the villages, thinking about planting trees even if we are not going to sit under their shade”.
And to do this, to return to the rural environment, it is necessary to find solutions that guarantee the access of its inhabitants in conditions of equality and equity to all goods, services and public systems of education, health, etc. and, of course, and as a priority objective, we must fight against the digital divide so that access to the Internet is fast and reliable from any point in the territory.
There is no doubt that the solutions to these problems are those that you have been working on in this forum, the European Rural Youth Parliament. And I ask you to send me your conclusions so that I can pass them on to the Government of Spain.
These days you have put proposals on the table that we could summarise in the essential need for governments to have a real rural agenda.
I can assure you that the Government of Spain, which I represent, shares your objectives and has as its top priority their fulfilment.
I would also like to mention that for the Government too, in this context, it is of vital importance to fight for equality between men and women.
Before concluding, I would like to emphasise that in this commitment to the development of the rural environment, the Leader funds play a fundamental role.
Cooperation between the European Union, the States, the autonomous communities and the local councils makes it possible for certain projects which need a boost in order to move forward to become a reality.
You have seen it these days in the visits you have made to entrepreneurial initiatives in this region.
A week ago I visited some of the projects covered by the Leader funds in Asturias, in this municipality and other bordering.
I was able to see how essential it has been, for example, for a livestock farm, to obtain financing to acquire a milking robot; or the economic boost it has meant for some young entrepreneurs who have been able to turn their ecological horticultural production project into reality.
In total in this region, in the last 5 years through these funds have been subsidized 74 projects worth 2.2 million euros. For all Asturias Leader funds allocate 102.5 million euros for the period 2014-2020.
That is the quantifiable part, what is not measurable is the enormous benefit that these European funds have generated in regions like ours, setting population and improving the quality of life.
I do not want to go on any longer. I bid farewell as I began, thanking you for your time in seeking solutions so that our precious rural environment has a future. Thank you.
The European Rural Parliament (ERP) is a long-term campaign that expresses the voice of people in rural Europe and promotes self-help and action by rural people, in partnership with civil society and governments. The ERP Youth movement serves as a platform for young people to ENGAGE in the rural development process, to CONNECT organisations and professionals across Europe and to EMPOWER advocating their needs to multi-level stakeholders.