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Declining, Ageing and Regional Transformation (DART)
Start date: Dec 31, 2009, End date: Dec 30, 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Declining, Ageing and Regional Transformation (DART), demographic and economic change is a great challenge for about 30% of EU regions and this amount will increase up to 50% in 2030. Until 2030 every 3rd person in the EU will be 60+. Together with the low fertility rate and the outflow of human capital the regional effects are a declining population density with great difficulties in ensuring the provision of adequate public services. At the same time, the shrinking regional demand and lack of qualified staff endangers the economic basis of the regions.But there are several experiences in the different European regions to avoid the downward spiral. There is a need to outline those experiences, to underpin them with adapted standards and indicators and to work out innovative and integrated solutions that maintain the quality of life and social inclusion in declining and ageing areas for all generations and adapt regional policies and public services.Presenting the “vulnerability index” report in Dec. 2008 Commissioner Hübner itemized the influence of demographic trends as one of the four biggest challenges facing Europe. So meeting the demographic challenge with fortification of human capital (education, lifelong learning) and maintaining public services (health care, social and technical infrastructure) are key factors in regional policies as well as in the Lisbon strategy, the EU initiative “Regions for economic change” and “Regions 2020”.Within the DART regions there are several projects dealing with special fields of policy. But most of them focus on sector-specific and are only insular solutions. The purpose of DART is to achieve an adjustment of policies relating to demographic change by implementation of* good practices from previous partner projects,* new products and services to maintain the quality of life, especially in new business fields for SME and* a set of standards and indicators to benchmark regions.DART develops an integrated approach for policy recommendations- to raise awareness about demographic change - to increase knowledge of outflow-inflow motivation of working-age people,- to adapt standards and indicators for public services, to measure the critical point of public services and to measure success in declining and ageing regions- to sample innovative solutions to maintain the quality of life for all generations no matter, if they live in an booming or in a declining region.For regional authorities and stakeholders in sparsely populated areas a well educated population and a sufficient equipment with public services are the focal points for social inclusion, stability and welfare. The downwards spiral can be turned into an upwards spiral, when the shared knowledge becomes effective practice and when the need to react on demographic change is mainstreamed in regional policies. Then life cycle proof neighbourhood can be proved even in declining and ageing regions. Achievements: Declining, Ageing and Regional Transformation (DART) are challenges for many regions across Europe. DART deals with the challenges of shrinking regions. The overall objective of DART is the formulation of an integrated strategy combining three main elements: Education and Lifelong Learning, Health Care and Social Services as well as Tradition and Innovative Economy. The objective will be reached through theexchange of experience, identification of good practice and interregional cooperation. These will contribute to improving the effectiveness of regional development policies. DART raises awareness of demographic change and communicates the facts and opportunities of demographic change to all stakeholders of regional policy. During the fifth project period DART finalised the process of exchange of experience with the last thematic conference on healthcare and social services in May 2012 in Kajaani with over 50 participants. DART further took the opportunity to present itself and the results of the exchange of experience on various events all over Europe. The importance of the DART thematic focus is addressed by many events where DART project partners held presentations and actively promoted the idea of DART as well as the results of the project, for example during the high level conference "Perspectives on Ageing" with over 150 participants from 27 european countries in Joensuu in March 2012, organised in the framework of the European Year of Active Ageing. In addition, DART has been taken up by publications such as the Martha blog and the handbook on demographic changes in regions published by the Nordic Centre for spatial development, Nordregio 2012.DART has achieved to identify and describe 89 good practices during 4 workshops (Economy 17, Education 31, Health 19, Social Services 22) and 26 best practices were selected and presented in the 3 thematic conferences (Economy 6, Education 11, Health 5, Social Services 4). These good practices are part of many demography related publications and presentations during various events. The analysis andevaluation of the good practices during several project workshops has led to many political recommendations that are intercoordinated by the DART partnership and bundled in a joint declaration of final recommendations, which are the core part of the DART final report to be published shortly before the final conference in Potsdam, September 2012. The project organised an expert symposium to discuss themethodology and results of the indicator and standards study in Berlin, April 2012. The participants discussed the suitability and limits of indicators for policy making and evaluation andthe necessity to adapt regional standards in shrinking regions. With the support of external experts and scientific coordinators, DART worked on the study on indicators and standards throughout the project lifetime. It became clear that there are neither Europe wide standards, nor an European overview over standards on public services on national or regional level. DART decided to collect these information with aquestionnaire to partners and regional experts, performing an ambitious survey on European level to elaborate an overview on existing standards and to reflect with experts if these standards are the right one in shrinking and/or ageing regions. The evaluation showed clear that there is the need to discuss and revise standards of public services according to the demographic change. The complete study will beavailable and published in September 2012.

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  • 2007 - 2013 Interreg IVC
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