The project aims to foster inter-regional cooperation and exchange of good practices between 7 public and private organisations from Spain, Estonia, Ireland and Bulgaria to improve their governance capacity to jointly develop sustainable policies and to make regional impact assessment (Rural Proofing) a routine part of the decision-making process of officials as well as for the policies, programmes and initiatives approved by legislatures in sparsely populated rural, coastal and mountainous areas (hereafter referred to as rural areas).
On the Bulgarian side, the pilot municipality will be the Municipality of Bratsigovo, which will initiate a local debate on the topic by organizing a group of stakeholders from the municipality and the region of the Pazardzhik Region and as a technical partner will join the non-profit public benefit “Center for Sustainability and Economic Growth”.
The legislation is often drafted with urban centres in mind, simply because more people live there and because that is where the authorities are located. This legislation is sometimes discriminatory and does not take rural areas into account. Sectoral, inconsistent and inappropriate policies are created, which continue to be implemented from a distance, without knowledge of territorial specificities and without adapting them to the needs, resources and capacities of rural areas. To this end, the project proposes to work together and exchange experiences between the different project partners to improve the governance processes of their public authorities, taking advantage of new forms of social innovation that allow the creation of a toolkit (Rural Proofing) adapted to each region, which reviews the impact on rural areas of legislation, sectoral, social and economic policies and which proposes an innovative methodology that allows a systematic review of relevant policies with a rural approach from the very beginning of their design process. The project will thus contribute to reducing regional inequalities in each country and to guaranteeing the rights of citizens living in rural areas, thus contributing to overcoming economic, social and territorial disparities.
The project is co-funded by Interreg Europe 2021-2027 and has a duration of 4 years.