Plan of Measures to Combat Demographic Challenge will allocate more than 10 billion euros and 130 active policies to combat depopulation and guarantee territorial and social cohesion

News - 2021.3.16

The Plan of Measures to Combat the Demographic Challenge will include an investment in excess of 10 billion euros - around 10% of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan - in a total of 130 actions geared towards fighting depopulation and guaranteeing social and territorial cohesion.

Teresa Ribera, accompanied by the rest of the ministers and State secretaries attending the Delegated Committee, highlighted "the efforts made by all ministerial departments to promote strong and coordinated action designed to boost our territorial cohesion with active social participation from local stakeholders".

This Plan of Measures is the result of the government's cross-cutting action on the demographic challenge and is aligned with the framework of the National Strategy to Combat the Demographic Challenge and with the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan to establish an effective agenda on equality and territorial cohesion that incorporates small municipalities in a green, digital and inclusive recovery with a gender perspective.

The aims of the plan include the territorial structuring of Spain, the elimination of the urban-rural gap and pushing through territorial actions to reactivate the zones worst affected by the pressing nature of the demographic challenge. Accordingly, the Plan provides for some initial actions that will be implemented as from 2021 and will be extended until 2023, meaning that a document open to include new proposed interventions will be drawn up.

In this regard, the Plan of Measures steers its actions to achieving the two fundamental goals for social and territorial cohesion: to guarantee equal rights on such questions as the provision of services, gender equality and the elimination of social gaps, and to create opportunities for entrepreneurship and boost economic activities in the regions with the greatest difficulties competing in globalised markets.

"This Plan seeks to provide a response for women and young people who live in the countryside. We want to build a Spain which is different, a model of society and of territory in which inequalities are corrected while growth is enjoyed and opportunities created", underlined the Fourth Vice-President of the Government.

In line with the four pillars of the Recovery Plan, the ecological transition and digitalisation and the full connectivity of territories comprise two of the cornerstones of the priority action of the Plan of Measures, with nearly 30 active policies designed to incorporate small municipalities in the roadmap of the model of green and digital transition.

In turn, the Plan identifies equal rights as another of its lines of priority action and will include a broad raft of effective measures geared to strengthening public services, improving social well-being, boosting the care economy and implementing a social agenda that places women and young people at the heart of equality policies.

130 measures and 10 pillars of territorial action

The ecological and digital transition, the economic diversification of the most underprivileged areas, boosting innovation, strengthening rural and urban ties, the suitable provision of services and the incorporation of the demographic perspective in the process of government decision-making are some of the elements that structure the Plan and require an exercise in multilevel governance to design territorial actions.

In this regard, the Plan of Measures to Combat the Demographic Challenge contains 130 active policies ordered in 10 pillars of specific actions designed to achieve the global goal of guaranteeing territorial and social cohesion:

1- Boost to the ecological transition: the Plan of Measures provides for a boost to the most sustainable, innovative and resilient regions through the energy transition, the promotion of the bio-economy and the conservation of biodiversity to contribute to the creation of opportunities and better quality of life.

The Regeneration Programme to improve energy efficiency, the development of projects to generate renewable energies and the conservation and restoration of ecosystems are some of the most significant actions in the raft of measures designed to guarantee a just and inclusive ecological transition.

2- Digital transition and full territorial connectivity: the development of ultra-fast broadband and the rollout of 5G throughout the country are priority areas to enhance innovation in regions at demographic risk. In addition, digital training is established as a priority line of action as an equality, social and labour inclusion policy.

The Plan of Measures sets out the full connectivity of the regions as a priority goal and gears specific measures to making the coverage of broadband at speeds of 30Mbs universal and stepping up the extension of ultra-fast broadband to guarantee the digitalisation of the rural environment, facilitate its relations with the tax authorities and reduce the digital gap at education and vocational training centres.

3- Territorial development and innovation: the identification of local talent is one of the key elements for generating new economic activity in regions and developing territorial intelligence (smart cities) and a network of territorial innovation centres to generate social transformation processes that boost territorial research and entrepreneurship.

4- Boost sustainable tourism: the Plan promotes tourism activity as an economic and social driver and for territorial sustainable development, and as an element that contributes to fighting rural depopulation and protecting its heritage

The commitment to a sustainable tourism model will drive the development of tourist destinations in rural and inland areas, together with their promotion, competitiveness and green and digital transformation. The Plan also boosts the circular economy of tourism, and helps maintain and restore the historical heritage for tourism purposes.

5- Equal rights and opportunities: the document places great emphasis on the role of women in regions to push through entrepreneurial initiatives in the rural environment and increase their professional training. The Plan contains specific measures to combat the gender gap and guarantee equal rights in all regions.

These measures provide for the activation of lines of financial support to enhance the entrepreneurship of women and pilot projects to help women and young people to find a job in the regions. The Plan also has actions designed to strengthen the safety and attention for victims of violence against women and guarantee care and support resources.

6- Promote entrepreneurship: the Plan of Measures sees rural areas and small municipalities as spaces for opportunities and entrepreneurship capable of generating economic activity that harnesses local resources and talent, with a special emphasis on women and young people.

The Plan also fosters the digital transformation of such sectors as industry, agricultural activity and trade in rural areas through effective territorial actions. This particularly includes the promotion of the National Entrepreneurship Office (Spanish acronym: ONE), the Trade Modernisation Programme and the Vocational Training, Economic and Social Growth and Employability Plan (Aulas Mentor).

7- Strengthening public services and bolstering decentralisation: to guarantee the suitable provision of services in any region is one of the priority goals of the Plan, particularly in relation to the provision of health services, access to education and vocational training centres and the provision of social benefits.

A broad raft of measures structures the territorial action on the provision of public services and the relocation of public resources and centres. Accordingly, Central Government recovers its presence in rural areas, strengthening public services with such actions as the creation of municipal justice offices and boosting the territorial centres of the distance-learning university (Spanish acronym: UNED).

Specifically, the Plan provides for a major effort in such actions as the Strategic Framework for Primary and Community Care, the Health Cohesion Fund (Spanish acronym: FCS), the improvement and adaptation of the National Health System (Spanish acronym: SNS), boosting projects in R&D in the field of security and the Digital Health Strategy.

8- Social well-being and the care economy: another of the priority goals of the Plan is the introduction of social policies in demographically underprivileged areas, paying particular attention to the needs stemming from the ageing rural population.

The Plan contains specific measures under this pillar, such as the development of a long-term support and care plan to improve the Autonomy and Care for Dependence System (Spanish acronym: SAAD) and a plan for the modernisation, innovation and digitalisation of social services.

9- Promotion of culture: fostering cultural activity in rural areas and the protection of its historical-artistic heritage play a key role in the development and activation of new entrepreneurial activities.

Along this line, the Plan of Measures provides for such territorial actions as the conservation and restoration of cultural heritage programme, the Support Plan for the Cultural Revitalisation of the Rural Environment and the application of the demographic perspective in the rounds of proposals under the 1.5% tax allocation to culture.

10- Regulatory and institutional reforms to address the demographic challenge: the Plan includes regulatory actions and reforms to apply the demographic perspective to decision-making in all tiers of government.

The aim on this point is to undertake regulatory and institutional reforms with the demographic challenge as the backdrop. The drafting of a basic statute for small municipalities, the reform of the regional and local financing system, the approval of the Remote Working Act and investment in demographic research are some of the specific actions provided for under this pillar.

Gender, entrepreneurship and training stays

Pool Moncloa/Fernando CalvoThe Plan of Measures to Combat the Demographic Challenge makes the government's territorial action effective and guarantees the development of measures to combat depopulation and the implementation of specific projects in rural environments, applying the demographic and gender perspective of the 130 actions that comprise the Plan.

Along this line, the Plan gives over one of its main pillars to equal rights and opportunities and places the elimination of gender gaps deriving from the lack of social and territorial cohesion among its priorities. Furthermore, it identifies territorial male dominance, a lack of opportunities for women in the rural environment, the burden of the care economy falling on women and gender-based violence as elements of priority intervention.

The document also places young people at the heart of its action to guarantee access to education centres, foster the training of talent and generate job opportunities capable of attracting and retaining this talent in rural environments, as well as encouraging entrepreneurship and boosting territorial economic activity.

In this regard, it will be fundamental to collaborate with universities to activate, as from the next academic year, a programme of training stays for students in the last few years of university and vocational training, which will allow them to undertake work experience in rural environments or areas at risk of depopulation, boosting the economic growth of these areas. The territorial centres of UNED will also be given a boost.

Local action and active social participation

This Plan of Measures sets out a territorial cohesion and equality agenda through a model of multilevel governance and active social participation. The document highlights the necessary involvement of local stakeholders, which will be catered for by public authorities through work groups and forums that allow models of territorial intelligence to be replicated at different levels and in any region.

Along this line, the Plan seeks social participation through open governance mechanisms, which will promote public-private alliances with the third sector and the private sector, as well as with universities, research centres and citizens.

By way of example of this work of listening to the regions, the declaration of interest launched by the Secretariat-General for Demographic Challenge at the end of 2020 has allowed a better-defined image of the needs and opportunities in small municipalities to be drawn up, together with the characteristics of the projects based on the rural associative fabric.

Of the more than 4,200 initiatives received, more than 60% came from small local authorities, which has meant that the Plan of Measures could be better scaled at a local level and effectively geared towards actions on small municipalities.

The meeting of the Government Delegated Committee for Demographic Challenge was attended, together with the Fourth Vice-President of the Government and Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic challenge, Teresa Ribera, by the Third Vice-President of the Government and Minister for Economic Affairs and Digital Transition, Nadia Calviño; the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas; the Minister for the Treasury, María Jesús Montero; the Minister for Home Affairs, Fernando Grande-Marlaska; the Minister for Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, José Luis Ábalos; the Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Isabel Celaá; the Minister for Work and Social Economy, Yolanda Díaz; the Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto; the Minister for Territorial Policy and Public Function, Miquel Iceta; the Minister for Health, Carolina Darias; the Minister for Equality, Irene Montero; the Minister for Science and Innovation, Pedro Duque, and the Minister for Universities, Manuel Castells.

Non official translation