Rural Revival: Empowered Communities and Sustainable Energy in a Changing Climate

March 1, 2024

​In the latest European Commission’ recommendations, energy poverty is defined as a situation in which households are unable to access essential energy services and products, thus affecting health, living standards and the levels of heating, cooling, and lighting of homes. 

​While the subject of energy poverty is widely recognised and discussed, there are still several gaps in knowledge and practice, especially when it comes to rural areas.  There is a substantive body of evidence to suggest that rural areas in Europe are left behind in the efforts to achieve a clean and just energy transition, despite the fact that rural populations are at a significantly higher risk of facing poverty, social exclusion, and energy poverty.  

​This event aims to put the spotlight back on these areas, to give them the attention they deserve. By coming together for this occasion, the three EC-funded projects RENOVERTY, RURALITIES and Rural Bio UP will present their recent results connected to the topic of sustainable development in rural areas. The methodology and status quo explanations will be coupled with practical examples and experiences from the case studies of the three projects. 

Short description of each project’s contribution: 

​The EC-funded LIFE Programme RENOVERTY aims to foster energy efficiency building upgrades in Central Eastern, Southern Eastern, and Southern European countries, by setting the methodological and practical framework to develop Rural Energy Efficiency Roadmaps (REERs). In this event, we aim to present findings from its first public report. The report provides key insights on the specificities of energy poverty and energy efficiency in rural areas, derived from the thorough review of more than 100 scientific and policy literature sources coupled with a European-wide survey targeting more than 120 experts and relevant stakeholders for the first time. More specifically throughout the report, we analyse general economic and social characteristics of rural areas, unique characteristics that increase exposure to energy poverty, the current status of rural energy efficiency policies, along with barriers to and solutions for their effective design and implementation, considering also stakeholder views and needs. This analysis serves as the basis for the subsequent activities of the project.  

RURALITIES The main goal of the project is to create learning hubs (expertise and training centres) known as RURALITIES, which use innovative methodologies and a comprehensive network of living labs to empower rural actors. The project’s multi-point approach involves various actors, disciplines, systems and sectors. It will also train over 1 000 facilitators to coordinate with local and regional authorities and support rural innovation. This presentation will offer a unique perspective on the RURALITIES project’s collaborative, multi-actor approach. It will also guide you through the steps necessary to become an active member of this community, emphasizing the importance of participation and engagement in such initiatives. 

Rural Bio UP, funded by the Horizon Europe Programme, is committed to shaping a sustainable and equitable future for all by facilitating the transition to a just and fair bioeconomy in rural areas. Operating across six EU countries, the project establishes 9 Regional Hubs, serving as dynamic multi-actor centres. These Hubs are strategically located in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (France), Centru Region (Romania), Charles Spa (Czechia), Ireland, Latvia, Lombardia (Italy), Marche (Italy), Pays de la Loire & Bretagne (France), and Puglia (Italy). The mission of these Regional Hubs is to exemplify the project’s innovative approach and enable its replication in other EU regions and rural landscapes. RuralBioUp aims to be a catalyst for positive change, fostering sustainability and justice in the bioeconomy sector. 


​10:00 Welcome and introduction  – ​Dr. Kristina Eisfeld, Climate Alliance 

​10:10 Bridging Gaps, Building Futures for All: Upgrading the framework of energy poverty and energy efficiency in rural areas with RENOVERTY – ​Dimitris Papantonis, Technoeconomics of Energy Systems laboratory (TEESlab), University of Piraeus Research Center (UPRC) and Marco Peretto, IEECP

​10:30 Engaging, Connecting and Empowering rural actors – Multi Actor Approach in RURALITIES project – Gabor Mester, PEDAL Consulting 

​11:00 Rural development examples in Latvia Regional Hub in RuralBioUp project – ​Kristaps Makovskis, LSFRI Silava 

11:30 Discussion and conclusions 

​12:00 END 

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