European? Eemland Conference

Posted on Thursday, 23 October, 2008 by


There is something i need to remind myself of during the European Eemland Conference:
The Dutch countryside is peri-urban, densily populated with wealthy people who also have lots of leisure time, the infrastructure is excellent, it is well planned, and connected to the world mainports Rotterdam and Schiphol. The Dutch countryside is also vertile, agricultural production chains are extremely well organised and those involved in research, extension, education and practice of agriculture all know each other and actually function as a knowledge network quite effectively.

None of this is the case for most of Europe’s rural areas.
In some of the rural areas of, to take an example, Portugal, there is real marginalisation. This can manifest itself socially, economically, or both. Some issues are: migration, depopulation and therefor extreme dispersion of population, aging population, decline of social services until below acceptible level (e.g. no schools at all), barren or mountain land, abandoned land or forest, poverty.
In such areas, you cannot find anyone who will pay to “regain control over their food production”. People are glad they finally got rid of it. In these areas, you cannot find groups who will pay to be able to clove firewood. Even the urban population is often only one generation away from a rural life-style, which very often was a lot drearier than we, at Eemland depict.

Therefor the Dutch dillemmas are very different from the European, their scale is also different.

At the European Eemland Conference all presentations are in English language, and many speakers use international examples, which gives a European “coating”, … but nevertheless, I feel, what is presented is the Dutch context, Dutch dillemmas, and some of the Dutch solutions. Which is a legitime thing to do, very useful. Some of it might serve like an inspiration to other regions.

What we are not doing, is discussing European dillemmas, and European solutions.

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