Rafael Amorim, Executive Secretary

Territorial reorganization to ensure funding eligibility based on local stakeholder cooperation

Between 2011 and 2021, the northern areas of Portugal have shown a significant demographic loss of 74,000 inhabitants (2.0 percent …..of total population??). In contrast to this, the territory of CIM Cávado registered a population increase of 87,000 inhabitants (2.1 percent). This increase in the population rate did not distribute equally across all municipalities (six municipalities, 170 parishes).
In recent years the territory has registered significant asymmetries, characterised by urban pressure, especially in Esposende and Braga, which contrast with the remaining rural parishes witnessing a process of demographic, social and economic decay and territorial desertification. Not only that, with a surface area of approximately 1,216 km2, the territory of CIM Cávado presents, from a geographical point of view, a great proximity between rural and non-rural parishes which today have different opportunities. Most of the territory of Cávado is made up of parishes classified as rural, however in the territory there are parishes which, despite not having this classification, present strong characteristics and traces of rurality. 
In order to develop a coherent action for the overall territory, the local development association ATHACA has proposed to revise the rural map of the territory to cover the parishes of Braga and Esposende. The approval of this proposal will represent a boost for 34 rural parishes, ensuring their funding eligibility for the EU 2021-27 programming period.


When talking about proximity of rural areas to main urban centres, other considerations need to be taken into account. Even in the classification of low-density territories, there is a discrepancy with some parishes excluded despite being characterised by a low degree of urbanization and where common land uses are forestry and agricultural; since they are not classified as low-density areas, they cannot benefit from the same opportunities as those classified as low-density territories. In these areas, the proximity between urban and rural allows one to explore and value the existing connections, starting from the opportunities associated to their location and their interdependence where socio-economic dynamics of the nearby urban centres can influence and ‘flow’ into the surrounding rural areas.

Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas

Rural territories face specific challenges that make them less attractive for living and working, contributing to the exodus of the population towards urban areas.

Urgent problems which have been highlighted include:
1. aging populations,
2. lack of infrastructure and support services for a fragile population,
3. lack of connectivity,
4. limited access to public services,
5. fewer job opportunities.

Trying to respond to these challenges and issues, and taking advantage of the emerging opportunities related to the ecological and digital transition, the EU has launched the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas, which aims to create:

  • Stronger rural areas
  • Resilient rural areas that promote well-being
  • Interconnected rural areas
  • Prosperous rural areas

Within this new economic model, rural areas are valued for the functions that can make them pillars of economic development. The promotion of an integrated action will allow the rural areas of CIM Cávado to become attractive for people, to boost social revitalisation, economic and sustainable development in balance with the urban environment.

Metropolitan Partnerships in action across Urban and Rural to read about more cases from across Europe.