Join Us in Generating a Vision & Strategy for Rural Europe – Now!

Updated 04/07/2020 at 18:00hrs

Help ARC2020 build a vision and strategy for rural Europe, by joining the civil society participation at a high level webconference on 7th July.

NEW: Livestream link is here: 

ARC2020 believes that a long term vision and comprehensive strategy for rural Europe is needed now, because rural areas and communities can help us turn the tide of the multiple crises we face – COVID-19, climate, biodiversity, loss of farmers and migrant crisis. By focusing on rural areas at this moment, we can bring divergent strands together and re-organise ourselves: we can help find a way for agriculture and environment to work together, and we to help shape how the Covid19 recovery happens, all the while strengthening a real, people-focused European cohesion and solidarity. 

To help stimulate this process, ARC2020 is bringing civil society participation to a high level interactive video conference with the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament, on 7 July, 14.30 – 17.00 CEST.

This overall event “A vision for rural Europe – Harnessing the potential of rural areas to contribute to a sustainable and prosperous Europe” is organised by the President of the Renew Europe Group, Dacian Ciolos. He invites participants for an open reflection, analysis and public mobilisation, with a high level panel including the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Investment Bank, Werner Hoyer, Brexit Chief negotiator and former European Commissioner for regional policy Michel Barnier, and the President of the S&D group in the European Parliament, Iraxte Garcia Perez.

ARC2020 is mobilising a panel with civil society organisations and rural movements, who will introduce an open discussion with citizens participating via videoconference, followed by an exchange of views between the presidents of the Committees for Agriculture and for the Environment of the European Parliament.

How does social innovation emerge in remote areas? How can younger people help bridge the urban-rural divide? What is the role of rural stakeholders in accession countries in building a common rural vision? How can local empowerment approaches bridge the rural-urban digital gap and boost innovation in rural areas?  And how can climate and environmental challenges become part of rural development strategies?

These are the key questions to be addressed in a panel on mobilising rural communities chaired by ARC2020’s president, Hannes Lorenzen. It will feature:

    • Ilaria Signoriello (Agricoltura Capodarco and Social Farming National Forum Italy)
    •  Katrina Idu (Latvian Rural Forum and European Rural Youth Parliament)
    • Emilija Stojmenova Duh, Ph.D. (University of Ljubljana and 4PDIH)
    •  Petar Gjorgievski (Rural Development Network of North Macedonia and Balkan Rural Development Network)
    • Francesca Whitlock (ECOLISE and GEN Europe)


Already, there is much substance on the future of rural Europe to work from. Rural movements, NGOs, networks, administrations, experts and alliances in the EU and the wider Europe have offered many proposals and have agreed on dedicated demands for change.

We will build upon:

  • Our own Rural Dialogues series, where a wide set of ideas and practices, of regions and revitalisations, were presented.
  • The visions and policy proposals for Rural Europe, drawn from civil society organisations including the European Rural Parliament; REDR, ELARD, PREPARE, Forum Synergies and many more, and including studies of our own work.   
  • The initiative of former Commissioner Ciolos, as expressed at the Rural Europe: which way to go?” event in January this year in the European Parliament.
  • EU strategies already under way. With fresh eyes and open minds, we will examine and critically integrate aspects of the EU Green Deal, including the Farm to Fork, Biodiversity and Sustainability strategies, as well as the ongoing CAP reform process.

With a coherent Rural Vision and Strategy we will be able to think outside the box of existing structures, policies, competences and responsibilities.

The time is now

Our lives have changed a lot in recent months –  as citizens, institutions, national governments and administrations. While interesting high level policies and emergency adaptations have emerged, at the same time, EU leaders and institutions still need to agree on how to fund its policies and interventions, its recovery from the covid 19 crisis and necessary investments for the years ahead. The EU leaders met on 18/19 June and did not reach an agreement on recovery and investment. This should have set the stage for a common and strong European response to the crisis and a powerful recovery plan. The EU must respond to the many challenges we face, including climate change, biodiversity loss, digital connectivity, fair socio-economic recovery and a just transition. EU leaders will meet again mid July, for a crunch meeting – let’s give them something to think about!

How do we want to re-organize ourselves and improve connections and relations between rural and urban citizens?  Now is the time to reflect, recover and revitalise together. After three months of lockdown relations between rural and urban Europe have changed. Let’s build a new long term  vision and a comprehensive strategy for how rural Europe will bounce back better for the years ahead.

Next Steps

See below for more information to help prepare for civil society participation in this important event. We will also make available a draft strategy document in advance of the event, so we can build our rural vision together.

Participate in the Web Conference

Livestream link is here: 

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Civil Society Panelists

Ilaria Signoriello is member of “Agricoltura Capodarco” social farm and Co-President of the Social Farming National Forum, a network born in 2011 to represent and promote social farming as a generative approach that, through the production of food and the practice of a welfare aims towards the rehabilitation and regeneration of local communities. Since 2017 she is a member of the National Observatory for Social farming, established by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture.


Katrina Idu, is geographer, project manager at Latvian Rural Forum, member of the team of European Rural Youth Parliament, experienced in non-formal education, works with community-led local development strategies, rural community-building activities focusing on youth involvement, intergenerational cooperation and transmission of knowledge for sustainable rural areas.



Emilija Stojmenova Duh, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Ljubljana and Head of Public, Private, People Partnership Digital Innovation Hub – 4PDIH. She is Member of the Management Board of the Slovenian Research Agency and Member of the Council for Development in Agriculture, Forestry and Food at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food.



Petar Gjorgievski is president of the Rural Development Network of North Macedonia a Civil Society Organization, established in 2010. RDN NM supports local initiatives in promoting sustainable use of local resources, mobilizing knowledge of rural communities with a spirit of innovation for a better life. Petar is also a chair of the Balkan Rural Development Network representing rural networks from: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo, with its seat in Skopje.


Francesca Whitlock is co-President of ECOLISE, the European network for community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability, and communications manager for GEN Europe, the European ecovillage network. A new entrant to organic farming in Catalunya, Spain, she has spent the last five years working with rural community initiatives.



Hannes Lorenzen is President of the Agricultural and Rural Convention (ARC2020) and Co-President of Forum Synergies Europe. He was policy advisor on agriculture, agro-ecology and rural development for the Green Group/EFA at the European Parliament until 2019. Today he animates rural development networks in Europe.


More from ARC2020 on Rural Vision and Strategy

Rural Europe: Which Way to Go?

ARC2020 and Rural Europe in times of Covid-19

Rural Dialogues | Intergenerational Collaboration in the Vineyards of Southern France

Download our Our Rural Dialogues PDF here

Read the Series Here

Further reading

5 things about the 4th European Rural Parliament.

Book Extract | Of Seeds and Land Seizures in Sicily