Today is already late. The policies against the depopulation of rural Spain They arrive with years of delay. The strategy to stop the loss of inhabitants of the villages is urgent. Therefore, the main claim of the III Congress on Depopulation in Rural Areas, held this Thursday and Friday in Aguilar de Campoo (Palencia), has been the coordinated action of all Administrations to ensure that the inhabitants of rural areas have the same opportunities and services that in the cities. Mayors and deputy presidents have asked for a State pact, that the financing takes into account the demographic imbalances (not only in Spain, also in the European Union) and have advocated a change of mentality and education that ends with the belief of that those who decide to stay in their town have failed: in the countryside there is talent, and a lot.
There is consensus in the diagnosis. 90% of the population lives in 30% of the territory. The villages are left without young people. In 85% of the municipalities with less than 1,000 inhabitants there are more men than women. The population is concentrated on the coast and in large cities. There is territorial dispersion. Aging. Before this panorama, the 39 speakers who during two days have debated in the congress -organized by the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) and by the delegation of Palencia- have insisted that this is not a problem of some autonomous communities, but of country model.
Social cohesion is at stake, as explained the commissioner of the Government in front of the Demographic Challenge, Isaura Leal. His department is committed to presenting a strategy before the spring of 2019. Ending the digital divide is one of its main commitments. And this has been precisely one of the most repeated demands by the around 200 attendees of the congress: that the Internet connection is possible from all points of the country, something essential for entrepreneurs or to promote practices such as teleworking. Mayors from small municipalities such as Cisneros (Palencia) or Celadas (Teruel), both between 400 and 500 inhabitants, who have claimed the need to sell the towns as an opportunity to gain in quality of life, have highlighted the problems caused by the difficult access to new technologies.
Ignacio Molina, doctor in Geography and director of analysis and strategy of the Government Commissioner for the Demographic Challenge, pointed out that, despite the urgency, "you can not do anything" and that the strategy must have a vocation for permanence. Therefore, the Executive considers it essential not only to work with the different ministries, but to reach a consensus with the autonomous communities. In addition, the different political forces work in the Senate in the preparation of a report in which they will include specific proposals in the matter that will make the department of Leal, as explained by María del Mar Angulo, president of the special commission on demographic evolution in Spain.
In order to reach agreements, the autonomous communities especially affected have reiterated the need for the local, regional and European financing model to take into account the most depopulated areas. The speakers have also advocated for the involvement of civil society. In short, to create synergies so that efforts to stop depopulation and try to achieve repopulation cease to be a work of mayors who, sometimes without help, struggle to conserve their peoples.