The Southern Sparsely Populated Areas network was born with the fundamental objective of promoting -in collaboration with all public administrations and the main socioeconomic actors of the territory-, policies and specific measures that contribute to face the main structural challenges which affect the less populated rural regions of Europe, in demographic, economic and social terms.

In our opinion, the scarce population density, the aging of our demographic structure and the difficulties for the development of economic activities capable of generating adequate added value and creating quality employment are the most evident symptoms of a structural crisis that has been affecting for decades to an important part of the rural environment.

If policies and specific measures are not immediately implemented and capable of reversing this situation, the imbalance between the urban and the rural environment will continue to grow to the extreme, with the European Union suffering the inexorable loss of a fundamental part of social, cultural and economic values. and environmental associated with the rural environment.

The Southern Sparsely Populated Areas network will work:


To act as a recognized interlocutor before public administrations and national and community private entities. The objective is to defend the interests of the territories of the SSPA network and of the other rural regions of Europe that suffer the deterioration of their demographic, social and economic structure.


To promote and coordinate the efforts of the different socioeconomic actors to achieve the establishment of a regulatory framework at the european and national levels. Creating a framework that serves as an umbrella for the development of new policies, strategies and specific actions, coordinated, cross-cutting and proactive in the fight against depopulation and socio-economic revitalization of the most affected rural environment.


To promote a specific economic and fiscal treatment for sparsely populated territories through the corresponding budgetary appropriation destined to the demographic and socioeconomic revitalization of sparsely populated territories.


To support initiatives that generate economic activity and employment in the SSPA territories and that contribute to their demographic and economic revitalization in terms of sustainability and territorial balance.


To disseminate the socio-economic opportunities of the SSPA territories and the most appropriate policies and strategies to reverse the processes of depopulation, aging and loss of economic activity that currently affect them.

Progress in the debate on depopulation

Depopulation is not a recent event in the history of Europe in the last century, but it is true that in recent years it has entered the debate and the sensitivity of citizens. There are many factors and many actors that have favored this change, including the SSPA Network. To understand the work of the SSPA Network in this regard, some examples are presented below:

a. Rural Proofing. The issue of reducing administrative burdens for economic activities in rural areas is not new, nor exclusive to the SSPA Network. However, there is a differentiating element that has been put on the debate table, thanks to the study of the Scottish case: the demographic impact of the regulations and legislation that are approved by the different governments. This aspect has also influenced the speeches of past electoral campaigns and one of the strength elements of the new positions, both nationally and internationally.

b. Rural Pride. The Rural Pride concept is being used by the SSPA Network in the 2017 Scottish Highlands and Islands success story study document. Prior to that, there is no record of its use. But successively and especially in the last year, this term has been used on different occasions and by different public and private actors.