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María de Tomás Pardo de Andrade

Máster Universitario en Ingeniería de Caminos, Canales y Puertos’s student

Tolosaldea is a region formed by 28 municipalities, located in Guipuzcoa, next to the border with Navarra. Previously this region counted with Rural Development Programs stablished during 2007, however, Hazi, Tolomendi and the Basque Country Government considered that an update on those was necessary. The reasons that lead to this decision were the changes occurred because of the previous programs.

After having studied the previous RDP, the three organizations previously mentioned reached the conclusions briefly explained in the following paragraphs:

  • The demographic progress has been following a growing tendency and has abandoned the previous aging fashion. Moreover, a decrease in masculinity, a typical rural area’s characteristic, has been noticed. Despite all these positive points, an increase in the number of empty houses has taken place.
  • Unemployment rates have grown due to the economic crisis undergone by the country. It is a must mention the fact that the number of professional agriculturists that make an earning out of their activity has drastically decreased.
  • A need of diversification in economy has been noticed, focusing, above all, in tourism taking advantage of the changes in lifestyles and trends that have taken place over the last years.
  • Service infrastructures have improved in a general fashion. Public transport has been subject to many progresses. Basic services have been kept and equipment has been considerably enhanced. Regarding the existing road infrastructure, maintenance could be identified as the main issue, given the amount of money required to deal with it.
  • Deficiencies, such as water supply for grazing areas and irrigation infrastructures have been noticed.
  • ITCs have not been installed yet in the entire region. This fact has been identified as one of the reasons why economy is stuck.
  • New territory preservation tools have been developed and the protected areas have been expanded.

After drawing these conclusions, the main strategic guidelines proposed by the Basque country Agriculture, Fishery and Alimentary Policy Vice Counseling, as part of the RDP 2015-2020, are the following: economic promotion, social dynamics, services for the population and the creation of new innovation and cooperation dynamics. Out of these rather diffuse guidelines, four objectives were put forward:

  1. Primary sector’s competitivity reinforcement as well as giving importance to its role in the agri-food division to increase its mark up.
  2. Baking up the instauration of new business activities that create employment, that tie people to the region and that enliven agro-fishery areas.
  3. Solve the structural deficits that make rural areas competitivity weak and improve services to the population.
  4. Consider genre perspective in the different policies developed.

The last step before this analysis carried out before working on the new RDP, is to sum the SWOT’s conclusions up.

In what regards to the weaknesses a lack of innovation, of connection, of collaboration and of information in many sectors such as the agrarian, the one that involves telecommunications and the economic has been identified. In terms of threats, there are two main ones. The first of those is the restrictive existing normative and its actual tendency to give way to liberalization, and the second one is the actual driving forces and the aim to preserve the region’s value and its rural identity. Strengths in this region are the existing infrastructure that have a positive impact of external perception of the area as well as the communications network and the natural resources’ value. Last, but not least, talking about opportunities in Tolosaldea, they develop around the idea of the creation of collaborations between new technologies businesses.

After having studied everything mentioned to this point, the target set to reach by 2020 is getting to have “sustainable hamlets in sustainable villages”. In order to measure this action’s success, indicators such as average income, aging rate or number of basic services will be considered.

Picture 1: Strategic areas put forward in RDP for 2020. Source:

After having read and considered the four main objectives above mentioned, one could say that “sustainable hamlets in sustainable villages” has little to do with them. Starting with the first objective it seems as if the proposal only aimed for long known activities in this region, such as rural hostelry, it doesn’t urge to develop new ways of making the region’s value stand out. It doesn’t propose ideas through which Tolosaldea could be a clear rival to other Spanish areas whit similar characteristics in tourism terms, such as Asturias or the Pasiego Valleys. As far as the second objective is regarded, no new ways to generate employment, nor population tying measures, or alternatives that highlight the know-how are proposed. To deal with this objective, the project suggested is to incentivize locals to become hosts in their hamlets to tourists, taking economic advantage of their patrimony and under-exploited land lots. However, this economic model looks unlikely to be able to change the region’s employment outlook. Moving on to the third objective, at first sight the proposal and the purpose look like two completely different things. Diving deeper into the document, one can get to understand that when it says “sustainable” it means sustainable in terms of self-sufficiency, therefore it can be lightly related to the services improvement considering waste management, public transport services and energy generation. The fourth objective is not quite mentioned since it doesn’t consider feminine opinions and it doesn’t aim for equality in terms of men and women’s rights.

It seems obvious that this RDP could have focused in a much more effective way, paying attention to the real needs and taking advantage of the region’s values while new economic activities are carried out. These new activities should not only pay attention to tourism or ITCs, but also to the promotion of the creation of collaborations and agreements that enhance local products and the region itself as agrarian producer.

Bibliography: fffffffffffff

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