Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez warned of the risk that large parts of Spain are suffering from depopulation, particularly certain regions, with “worrying” figures, such as the fact that half of all municipalities now have less than 1,000 inhabitants or that for every 100 children under the age of 16 there are 120 people over the age of 64.
Sánchez inaugurated the forum entitled “Tackling the demographic challenge through tourism and innovation”, organised by the World Tourism Organization (WTO) at the Parador in Segovia. Pedro Sánchez was accompanied by the President of the Regional Government of Castile and Leon, Juan Vicente Herrera, and the Secretary-General of the WTO, Zurab Pololikashivili, who thanked the government for its commitment to tourism, “which is essential for making progress on the United Nations tourism goals”. The forum was also attended by the Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, and the Mayor of Segovia, Clara Luquero.
According to Sánchez, the ageing population reflects the strength of the Welfare State and public healthcare, but also poses a “genuine challenge to the future of our societies and of Spain”, and requires action to be taken on proposals for rural areas without leaning towards triumphalism or doomsday pessimism.
For Sánchez, tourism and innovation form part of the solution to the demographic challenge, since Spain is a global tourism benchmark that can better exploit the attractions in these regions and because “there is a great deal more energy than we thought in inland Spain”, By way of example of this dynamic nature, Pedro Sánchez mentioned the transformation of the pine resin sector in Segovia, an activity that is creating jobs, settling populations and caring for forests to help tackle climate change.
Sánchez argued that the public authorities must join forces in a task that demands a sense of State so as to “correct the imbalances hatched during a crisis that ravaged rural Spain”. This is precisely the ultimate goal of the National Strategy to Combat the Demographic Challenge, the guidelines of which will be assessed at the next Council of Ministers, he announced.
National Strategy to Combat Demographic Challenge
This strategy will include the extension of digitalisation and industry 4.0 throughout the country among its priorities, support for projects to empower women in the rural environment, a Rural Tourism Platform and the development of sector platforms to boost the sale of agricultural products.
Sánchez also announced that the Council of Ministers will approve the digitalisation strategy of the agri-food, forestry and rural environment sector on Friday, a document with three strands of action: to reduce the digital gap, to foster the use of data as a driver to boost the sector and the development of new business models. “Young people and women must play a key role in an agenda focused on searching for opportunities tied in to the land”, he declared.
Pedro Sánchez committed to dialogue between public authorities and with civil society through public-private collaboration.
“It is the track-record of what we are as a country that is at stake, the collective conscience of a culture that relates to the land of our forefathers”, said Pedro Sánchez, who also warned of the dangers of the growing desertification advancing in Spain. “It is down to us to ensure that the demographic, economic and environmental sustainability of the rural environment is not a simple yearning”, he stressed.