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Message of the PREPARE President to the network

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Dear, friends, European rural experts and enthusiasts! During the tragic events many European countries are facing these days, I encourage you to keep going, keep collaborating and networking, and continue to believe in the values we share and goals we want to achieve!

Humans are social beings and during the social isolation due to the COVID-19, our previously established ways of communicating and networking either become stronger – because of good skills of digital communication – or weaker, because of the natural habit to do our daily business, communication and networking physically.

During hard times of invisible physical danger that hits economies globally, makes our cities and villages empty and forces us to stay at home, dramatically limiting the number of people that we meet daily, we can dedicate time to reviewing our assumptions, values and habits.  What will be the lessons we will take out of this situation?

On the one hand, processes seem to be frozen, but is this true? There are people, institutions and organisations who have stopped their activities, but let us think about those who increase speed, trying to draw experience, lessons and knowledge from this situation of total reshaping the previous ways of doing business.

This is the time to open eyes, to “unfreeze” and prepare our strategy to implement rural civil society efforts for reshaping Europe to become a more sustainable continent, increasing the value of rural developments and issues we were fighting for, and which can make rural areas resilient to urbanisation mainstream (including viruses): investment in safe food for better health, and in information and communication technology to provide access to knowledge and markets.

This is the time when we can put our effort in designing the life of rural and urban Europe to be sustainable and equal, developing solutions that do not reverse the environmental benefits of a crisis back to climate change pressure.

We do have knowledge and power to increase rural digitalisation, including remote solutions for healthcare and sustainable and safe food systems for Europe as top priorities to avoid people dying now and rural areas dying in the future.

We need Europe where good life quality doesn’t mean to live in overpopulated urban areas. We cannot measure good living standards with financial efficiency criteria.

At this moment I encourage all: companies, farms, rural people, service providers to learn and go digital. Having this knowledge and skills, we will not lose possibilities to meet physically, to enjoy people and life, but we will be able to save time for things we care for. Strengthening our individual capacities will open gates for a Europe without borders now and in the future.