Scotland to launch world’s first rural youth ‘smart village’

Plans are underway to establish a pioneering youth-centric ‘smart village’ which will encourage young people to build vibrant, creative, and sustainable rural economies in the places they call home.

Smart villages are rural digital ‘villages’ that combine physical and digital communities to improve their resilience, building on local strengths and opportunities. The concept is driven by the European Network for Rural Development.

The Rural Youth Project Smart Village will be a ‘super-connected’ community that will function as a space for young people to connect, to build or expand their enterprise and leadership skills and to trade.

Co-founders and directors of the Rural Youth Project Jane Craigie said: “The Rural Youth Project Smart Village is an opportunity to provide a digital place that really benefits young people in many aspects of their rural lives.

We are particularly excited about the marketplace where young people can sell products and services. As a buyer from smart village ‘shops’ you will know that for every pound you spend, that you will be supporting a Scottish young person and investing back into their local rural community.

“It will also be a space for young people to network and form mentoring relationships with their peers and, also older business and community leaders, while also having access to learning resources to support them in building a vibrant, creative and sustainable rural economy in Scotland.

“With other smart villages in development across Scotland, this will be the first dedicated rural youth smart village in the world, thus certain to attract both European and international partners.”

Ashely Petrie from Smart Village Scotland said: “With an aim to launch the Rural Youth Project Smart Village in Winter 2020, young people are urged to come forward to join a focus group being held on September 10 to help shape the platform to ensure that is what young people want and need.

“Those wishing to register to attend can do so by contacting the Rural Youth Project.”

Jackie Brierton, chairman of Rural Perth and Kinross LEADER Programme, said: “Smart villages are being developed to support a number of communities in Scotland and Europe.

“A dedicated one for young people is essential to enable them to connect, have a voice, share ideas, engage with relevant entrepreneurs and community leaders to help them to address challenges where they want to live, study and work.

Covid-19 has brought young people and communities many additional challenges and this is a fantastic opportunity for young people to get involved and develop new skills to be part of shaping the future for their community.

“The next phase of a longer-term programme to reach out to all areas of Scotland and enable all young people to participate and become the next generation of rural leaders.”