Smart Villages support in Portugal
The SR21 Country Page
information on Smart Villages in Portugal
How is the concept of Smart Villages defined?
No formal definition of ‘Smart Villages’ in Portugal.
Is digital a key feature of Smart Villages?
Digital is a key feature of Smart Villages.
Digital is often seen as key aspect of Smart Villages, including projects with a focus on digital entrepreneurship, creation of co-working spaces and development of incubators and technology clusters. Improvement of digital skills is important, also in relation to social innovation.
Is social innovation a key feature of Smart Villages?
Social innovation is understood as a key feature of the ‘Smart Villages’ definition.
It is based on the principles of the participatory approach, with particular focus on new, innovative ways of engaging local people. Participatory processes must be understood as a tool for the development and implementation of Smart Village strategies.
How is the CAP supporting Smart Villages?
Office of Planning, Policies and General Administration
No dedicated support for Smart Villages.
Indirectly, no specific Smart Village interventions identified at the moment.
The CAP Strategic Plan (approved on 31 August 2022) includes a reference to support the digital transition in agriculture.
The EAFRD will support Smart Villages within the scope of the LEADER approach (and the rural component of CLLD).
However, the target value of indicator R.40 “Smart transition of the rural economy: Number of supported Smart Village strategies” is zero. At the same time, it is mentioned that, as the 2023-2027 Local Development Strategies have not yet been developed, it is not possible to identify the interventions that will be mobilised by LEADER for this result indicator.
Direção Geral de Agricultura e Desenvolvimento Rural (Directorate-General for Agricultureand Rural Development)
CAP Network support
No specific network activities on Smart Villages have been identified.
How are other policies supporting Smart Villages?
Other policies support Smart Villages in Portugal.
Cohesion Funds (ERDF and ESF+)
The final version of the Portugal 2030 Partnership Agreement mentions European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) support for broadband networks in low-density areas, depending on mapping in compliance with the conditions set out in the European Commission’s Guidelines.
The Regional Operational Programmes (final versions not yet approved) refer to support within the scope of Smart Villages, but no concrete interventions are yet known.
Examples of three regional programmes (Norte, Centro and Algarve)
Region Norte (Northern Region)
The Regional Programme of Norte 2021-2027 contains different elements on the potential support for Smart Villages in each of its sub-regions.
Sub-region Tâmega e Sousa: development of a study to support the preparation of a strategic plan and respective governance model to implement the integrated territorial approach “Smart Villages of Tâmega e Sousa – Pact for Cohesion 2030”.
This territorial approach is intended to achieve a global and integrated vision of village development, which is, on one hand, able to retain current residents and attract new ones and, on the other hand, to improve conditions for the emergence of new business and entrepreneurship initiatives.
Sub-region Alto Minho: one of its strategic lines is the development of predominantly rural territories and low-density areas, involving support for the urban and functional enhancement of villages (including accessibility, infrastructure, cultural and recreational facilities, Smart Villages, etc.).
Sub-region Terras de Trás-os-Montes: implementation of the “Villages of Trás-os-Montes” programme that encompasses a set of dimensions such as attracting new agricultural operators, support for (re-)parceling of agricultural land, support for the rehabilitation of buildings, digital accessibility and the creation of a portal for information and exchange of land and houses for lease or sale.
Region Centro (Central Region)
Globally, the strategy of the Regional Programme Centro 2021-2027 aims to contribute to the creation of smart territories (including Smart Villages), with support directed at ICT and digital services centered on people. Services need to be interoperable in the sense of improving: efficiency in the management of infrastructure; involvement of local populations in public governance; availability of goods and services (public and private); leveraging the territorial productive structure; and diversifying the economic base. The Operational Programme (OP) provides for this type of support within the scope of the existing territorial Strategies for the Economic Enhancement of Endogenous Resources (Schist Villages Network; Historic Villages of Portugal).
The OP also foresees support for two thematic or functional approaches with intervention focused on a defined theme/territory, giving sub-regional or inter-regional or inter-regional scale to investments that respond directly to the challenges of the theme/territory in question. The Integrated Intervention of Territorial Base for Pinhal Interior (covering 24 municipalities and approved in September 2021) is worth noting. This integrated intervention foresees support for ‘transforming projects’ aimed at the revitalisation of the Pinhal Interior territory. Within this framework, the ‘Villages’ pilot project does theming and promotion of local and regional brand images in 24 villages in the region through the Smart Villages approach.
Given the nature of the Centro Region territory, its challenges and the defined strategy, support from the 2021-2027 Regional Programme (ERDF and ESF+) will be complemented with support from the EAFRD and the Recovery and Resilience Plan.
The Regional Programme of Algarve 2021-2027 provides for the creation of integrated intervention programmes in villages, with support for innovative initiatives. These should use new technologies (Smart Villages network); enhance surrounding cultural and natural assets; raise awareness of the preservation of ecosystems; provide resilience to climate change and risk management (rural fires) with the aim of attracting new residents and creating green jobs.
Smart Rural 27 – Smart Villages Taskforce
Smart Villages in Portugal
Vilares de Vilariça is a village and parish about 12 Km from the municipal seat of Alfândega da Fé, in the district of Bragança. It has an area of 14.92 km² and a population density of 8.8 inhabitants/km².
Its geographical location makes this territory fertile ground for agriculture, with emphasis on the production of olive oil, wine (part of the parish is integrated into the Douro demarcated region), chestnuts, fruit and vegetables. This village, is located in the heart of the Bio-Region of the Lakes of Sabor.
The municipality of Alfândega da Fé belongs to the Sabor Lakes Bioregion. Through analysis of the Strategic Plan for the Sustainable Development of the Lower Sabor, this geographical area as a Bio-Region aims to promote sustainable management of local resources, focusing on agro-ecological food production and consumption. Guided by the principle of sustainability, this Strategic Plan aims to improve the living conditions and social cohesion of the territory’s populations in balance with the environment.
In Vilares da Vilariça there is an old housing estate, a rich heritage of civil and religious architecture, which presents truly unique characteristics and has been subject to restoration.
The dam area is a place of tourist interest, with sport fishing permitted.
The privileged landscape made up of mountains and valleys, combined with the local customs and habits, the quality of the agricultural products and the rich architectural heritage, make this rural community a territory with great potential, both as an attraction for people and investment, as well as a tourist attraction.
However, there is an ageing trend and a decrease in the resident population, both in the municipality of Alfândega da Fé and in the parish of Vilares da Vilariça. According to the 2021 Census, the population of the parish has gone from 216 people (2011) to 132 (2021).
Vilares da Vilariça, like many territories in the interior of Portugal, faces challenges such as depopulation, ageing and a lack of services and economic dynamics.
The establishment about two years ago of a non-profit association – Inteligência Local – Associação para a Regeneração, Desenvolvimento, e Governanças das Economias Locais (iLocal), has been driving a pilot strategy to transform the village into a Smart Village, and thus, help attract investment and people, focusing on different areas such as tourism, education, environment, from a social and environmental perspective, but also from a business perspective.
The project already has the support of around 60 institutional and financial partners and aims to settle around 150 new people in the area by 2030 and the plan is to transfer the Smart Village concept as well to the nearest village Culmeais.
The village Castelo Novo (also parish seat), is located in the Serra da Gardunha at 650m altitude, in the municipality of Fundão, Region Centro of Portugal.
It has an identity attributed to a set of heritage resources arising from its ancestral history and culture (architectural, religious, military, civil residential), standing out a predominantly medieval urban structure and also from the Manueline (16th century) and Baroque (17th century) periods.
It’s one of the 12 villages of the Network of Historical Villages of Portugal (Collective) Efficiency Strategy (CES) – a policy instrument of the EU Cohesion Policy for the economic development in low-density territories. Under the Historical Village Plan, in the last two decades, the buildings and the entire village space have been subject to recovery and/or requalification, and most of the infrastructures have been intervened together with the public spaces (e.g., more efficient public lighting, Wi-Fi network).
This set of interventions was based on a sustainable management, which privileged innovation (smart growth), the promotion of the efficient use of resources (sustainable growth) and social cohesion (inclusive growth), aiming to revitalize the urban fabric and to improve the cultural dynamics, the image, the economic and social fabric and, thus, enabling the creation of a quality tourism product. Complemented with a strong communication, marketing and promotion plan by the Tourism Development Association (entity managing the tourist brand), there has been an increase in the number of visitors.
The villages also include a relatively active cultural and social base, with associative entities that are assuming a decisive role in the community as a meeting point for residents and visitors and in socioeconomic development as promoters of various activities (e.g., dissemination of the local economy, organization of events, tourism and cultural promotion, provision of social services).
The set of routes and paths of diversified landscape, among other resources such as river beach, attract and fix tourist animation companies that favor good practices of sustainable tourism, as well as stimulate the knowledge and valorization of traditions, crafts, local products and heritage.
In 2022 it was distinguished with the “Best Tourist Village” award from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). This award recognizes villages that are an “outstanding example of a rural tourist destination with accredited cultural and natural assets, that preserve and promote rural and community values, products and lifestyles and that have a clear commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects – economic, social and environmental”.
Linhares da Beira is located at 810m of altitude in one of the slopes of Serra da Estrela, in the
Municipality of Celorico da Beira on Region Centro of Portugal. It has an urban structure of medieval characteristics, with buildings of remarkable patrimonial and historical value. Many references from the local history are linked to ancestral legends. The receding of forestry was one of the factors of the village’s economic recession, in addition to the desertification caused by emigration. The current population is scarce and aged, maintaining, however, traditional activities such as agriculture, pastoralism and dairy production. Linhares da Beira is one of the 12 villages of the Network of Historical Villages of Portugal (Collective) Efficiency Strategy (CES) – a policy instrument of the EU Cohesion Policy for the economic
development in low-density territories), recognized and awarded as a tourist destination of excellence. The material and immaterial identity of the network’s territory, referring to architectural, historical, cultural and natural heritage (activities, traditional techniques, customs and traditions), as well as its physical environment and geographical location, differentiate it from other territories. The network, and the collaborative system that sustains it, has taken on a clear alignment with the Europe 2020 Strategy – Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive growth and embody an unequivocal
commitment to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of Agenda 2030, along with the EU Green Deal. In this scope it has been identifying Axes of Smart Specialization in the ECS underway and has been developing a set of common actions in the 12 villages, based on priority key areas leading to a renewed economy anchored on the concept of green growth, supported by inimitable resources with the ability to enhance integrated and sustainable local development.
Sabugueiro is one of the highest villages of Portugal. It is a parish located in the Municipality of Seia at Serra da Estrela in the Region Centro of Portugal. This village is also part of the Network of Mountain Villages. It is a touristic area visited by thousands of people each year, specially during winter as a holiday destination. It has a very special scenery, stunning mountain landscapes, cultural heritage with hundreds of years and ancestral traditions. Serra da Estrela is a Natural Park, a region characterized by mountain economy, where exist natural values associated with altitude, many of them with an exclusive character. Sabugueiro is called the first Smart Mountain Village. It benefited from the implementation of a pilot project with the support of Vodafone Foundation. The installation of fiber-optic enable the adoption of and technological solutions, contributing to improve the community’s quality of life and leverage environmental improvements and economic development in the rural area. Connectivity: installation of 12Km with fibre-optic cable; 400 termination points with last generation fibre optic (including buildings and local businesses). It was a challenge, as the nearest place with fiber optics was 7km away and far from the main roads. As such, the work had to be carried out without the aid of heavy machinery. In addition, the work had to be planned in function of the cold and the snow.
Through the installation of technological solutions, the project objectives were to:
– make the village of Sabugueiro a showcase of good practices and innovation in terms of environmental sustainability, creative economy, urbanism, mobility and new technologies;
– value the potentialities and the socio-economic assets of mountain areas and rural populations, anticipating the future technological needs that inhabitants increasingly have in terms of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. The project is characterized by a holistic perspective, integrating interventions in several areas benefiting inhabitants, visitors and tourists. Always respecting the traces of the village and its surroundings, the Vodafone Foundation and its partners have implemented functional and utilitarian technology in areas as diverse as Energy Efficiency, Mobility, Health and Water management. On the ground, there was the installation of M2M (Machine to Machine) and IoT (Internet of Things) solutions.
The village Castelo Rodrigo is located in one of the ten parishes of the Municipality of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo in the Region Centro of Portugal. The municipality holds varied tourist potentialities, ranging from scenic beauty to historical, archaeological, and architectural values, from artisanal and gastronomic diversity to very characteristic festivals and pilgrimages, as well as fishing and hunting capacities.
Castelo Rodrigo has been considered a Historical Village of Portugal since 1991. Due to its rich cultural and architectural heritage, with unique monuments and landscapes, is has been awarded with the distinction of one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal – Authentic Village and is considered one of the best Tourist Villages in the World by the World Tourism Organization (WTO).
In addition to the City Council strategy that has been implementing a set of initiatives to establish people and businesses in the Municipality, as well as to move and retain services that could create jobs and generate economic growth, Castelo Rodrigo is one of the 12 villages of the Network of Historical Villages of Portugal (Collective Efficiency Strategy (CES) – a policy instrument of the EU Cohesion Policy for the economic development in low-density territories).
The Collective Efficiency Strategy of Historical Villages of Portugal has the overall objectives to diversify and strengthen the economic fabric of villages by stimulating the entrepreneurial base associated with rural innovation and innovation in tourism and fostering territorial innovation with the development of the concept of sustainable and smart Historical Villages.
It is intended, through this Collective Efficiency Strategy, assert the historic villages as sustainable territory supported on the green growth, recognized as tourism destinations of excellence and sustained by inimitable resources, capable of potentiate the integrated local development, differentiating itself as innovation leader in the low density territories.
Vila Boa do Bispo is a parish council from the North of Portugal, situated in the municipality of Marco de Canaveses, next to the Tamega River. The town hall serves a community of approx. 3000 people, providing diversified services in the areas of public infrastructures maintenance and improvement, Formal-Education for children and Non-Formal Learning activities for youth and disadvantaged adults, as well as post office, information and legal support services for all the population. The town hall also develops projects in several areas of interest, such as culture, heritage preservation, youth and sports, nature, and the environment.
The town hall has been implementing international cooperation projects in the fields of youth participation, community engagement, sustainable development, and cultural preservation. All this has allowed Vila Boa do Bispo to expand the impact of its initiatives, bringing in and sharing good practices for the development of innovative, inclusive, and sustainable policies.
On the field of education: 1- Management of several components of the local primary and pre-schools; 2- Organization of summer camps for children and youth every year; 3- Implementation of sustainability education policies (Green-Schools program, from the Blue Flag Association, and Usual Suspects Exhibition, raising awareness on littering); 4- Collaboration and organization of workshops and training courses (small and long duration) for youth and adults, mainly on the fields of sustainable development, culture and identity preservation, gender equality and community building (The Town Hall has been involved in several international projects funded by the Erasmus + and the Europe for Citizens
program, developing significant partnerships and networks in the above-mentioned fields).
The Municipality of Penela has a population of about 5,983 inhabitants. It is located in the district of Coimbra, in the Region Centro of Portugal.
Cumeeira is a village and also the seat of the Parish in the municipality of Penela, with an area of 19.53 km² and 1,072 inhabitants (2011). The village itself has 106 inhabitants, of which only 9% are aged under 20 years.
The village community lives maintaining relations with the agricultural and natural surroundings, although most of the employment is on the third sector. Regarding services, it provides cultural and recreational activities through the Cultural association, and provides an easy access to health, education, culture and leisure due to the proximity to the town of Penela and the city of Coimbra (at a distance of 12 and 36 Km, respectively).
The Municipality of Penela has a population of about 5,983 inhabitants. It is located in the district of Coimbra, in the Region Centro of Portugal.
Ferraria de São João is a schist village located in this municipality, with a remote location on the top of a mountain. It has 43 inhabitants, of which only 9% are aged under 20 years. It offers a high quality of life to its inhabitants. Apart from the exceptional features related to the environmental and built heritage, it provides access to health, education, culture and leisure due to the proximity to the town of Penela and the city of Coimbra (at a distance of 15 and 39 Km, respectively). In addition, it has a local community that, although aging, takes a very active role in the decisions-making process towards the village’s development. In the last years, it has registered an increasing investment in the tourism and agriculture sectors
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Last update: November 22, 2022