Skip to navigation Skip to content

ESPON ESCAPE - European Shrinking Rural Areas: Challenges, Actions and Perspectives for Territorial Governance

Photo: Ryan Weber

This project focuses upon European rural regions experiencing or threatened by demographic decline. The central objectives are to understand the process(es) driving shrinkage, map the heterogeneity within this group of regions, and devise intervention logic(s) for more appropriate (integrated) policy approaches, which pro-actively push forward strategies based upon territorial assets and emerging opportunities, whilst recognising the need to ameliorate the effects of some continued decline, and bearing in mind the “intervention tools” available within the EU Cohesion and ESIF policy.

This project is highly complementary with our RESAS-funded work on the Scottish sparsely populated area (SPA), which it helps to place in a European context. This wider geographic focus will help us to compare Scotland’s experiences and policy tradition with those of the contrasting policy environments of other member states, in Nordic, Mediterranean and “Accession” countries of E and SE Europe. The project has a strong emphasis upon understanding and evaluating both mitigation and adaptation approaches to policy.

The James Institute is responsible for the Scientific Coordination of the project.

Staff involved: Andrew Copus, Ruth Wilson, Jonathan Hopkins.
Duration: February 2019 – July 2020
Funder: ESPON 2020 Cooperation Programme (European Territorial Observation Network).


  • University of Eastern Finland – Karelian Institute (Joensuu)
  • The James Hutton Institute – Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences Group (Aberdeen)
  • Hungarian Academy of Sciences - Centre for Economic and Regional Studies (Budapest)
  • University of Valencia – Institut de Desenvolupament Local (Valencia)
  • Bundesanstalt fuer Bergbauernfragen (Vienna)
  • Nordregio (Stockholm)
  • Agriculture and Food Development Authority (Dublin)

Case Study Contractors:

  • Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • Pedagogical University of Cracow
  • Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski
  • University of Zagreb

Scheduled Publication of Outputs:

Inception Report - April 2019

Interim Report - November 2019

Draft Final Report - March 2020

Final Report - August 2020




Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project


Areas of Interest

Printed from /research/projects/espon-escape-european-shrinking-rural-areas-challenges-actions-and-perspectives on 15/04/24 01:10:08 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.