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Publication of Down to Earth first Thematic Report

By Project Down to Earth

Down to Earth first Thematic Report provides a set of common solutions to common challenges faced by rural areas across Europe regarding environmental risks related with depopulation and ageing population in rural areas, highlighting the need for comprehensive policies that address the multifaceted challenges of rural areas through a multi-level approach. 

➡️ Download the Press Release

Following on the second Down to Earth Study Visit in Western Greece, we officially release Down to Earth first Thematic Report, which explores how the challenges related to the topic of Year 1: “Environmental risks related with depopulation and ageing population in rural areas”, are addressed in Down to Earth regions, and draws recommendations. 

The Thematic Report was first presented during a conference organised in Kalavryta, Western Greece on 13th February 2024, which featured local, regional and national stakeholders.

Depopulation trends and climate change in rural areas

Evolution rural population EU

While the overall population of the European Union continues to grow, a contrasting trend emerges in rural areas where populations are steadily declining. A decreasing and ageing population in rural areas influence the ability to mitigate environmental risks associated with climate change. Abandoned or underutilised agricultural land is more susceptible to environmental degradation, soil erosion, and reduced biodiversity. Additionally, the dwindling population might result in decreased community engagement in environmental conservation efforts, hindering the implementation of sustainable practices.

A bottom-up, comparative analysis

Speaking at Down to Earth first Thematic Conference "Revitalisation and Resilience of Rural Areas facing challenges of depopulation and climate risks" on 13th February 2024 in Kalavryta, Western Greece, Ms. Tania Gesto Casás and Dr. Konstantinos Antonopoulos respectively from Down to Earth partners Fundación Juana de Vega and University of Patras, detailed the methodology behind the report and the main outcomes. Down to Earth partners identified 12 good practices and over 100 proposals for improvement across various fields including social inclusion and economic development.

Year 1 SWOT analysis

Drawing on Down to Earth regional partners’ experiences related to depopulation and the impacts of the climate crisis, our Thematic Report provides a comprehensive overview of the dynamics, examining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats faced by these regions in relation to four main themes: 

  • Environmental and disaster risk management
  • Economic and place-based development
  • Social and demographic issues
  • Governance


From the analysis, six key lessons emerged:

  • Strategic planning for basic services,

  • Integrating primary productive sectors with sustainability initiatives,

  • Promoting multifunctionality for environmental and economic benefits,

  • Considering ecosystem services in decision-making,

  • Recognizing the value of cultural and leisure initiatives,

  • Prioritizing training and knowledge transfer for enhanced public policies


➡️ Download the report

➡️ Download the infographic summary (also available in GermanGreek, ItalianRomanianSpanish)


➡️ More information about Down to Earth Thematic Reports