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After a long and pleasant summer the NSU really got a flying start in mid-August. The working groups are in full action, the national network meetings in October and November are in planning and several workshops have already taken place. We were also delighted by the news that the Commission approved another two of our Swedish programmes, Maritime and Fishery Fund and the special CLLD programme with funding from ESF and ERF. We have noticed that the need for communication efforts is increasing constantly therefore we have expanded the office with Malin Holgersson for the rest of the year.
During August there have been many questions to the innovation support from different persons who want to apply for a financed innovation project within EIP-Agri. It has sometimes been difficult to know if it is an innovation project, a development project or knowledge transfer. There are five persons who each work around 20 percent of a full time service on an annual base together with the coordinator who form the innovation support. The most common questions concerns horticulture, renewable energy and cleaning waste water.
The coordinator has been marketing the possibilities with EIP-Agri at different agricultural fairs, where there were good opportunities to meet and discuss with interested innovators or advisors, etc who can spread the information further.
At this moment we are recruiting persons for the advisory selection committee, the ones who will evaluate the applications, the so called “Dragons Nest”. It is very important to get a committee with the right collective competences. They have to be able to assess the importance of the planned innovation, if it is something really new, the ability of the operational group, if the planned activities are relevant, etc.
In the last 10 years about 18 percent of the valuable meadows and permanent grazing areas in Sweden have disappeared. In some areas almost half of the farmland has been taken out of production during some 80 years. The land is now forests, owergrown by bushes and/or wild vegetation. There are less biodiversity, the farms are closed down and the rural areas are being depopulated.
The NRN thematic working group concerning land based industries wanted to visualize and tell the story about this dramatic change targeting both decision makers and the general public. During the summer of 2015 the working group has arranged four study trips called, bus(h)tours, in different parts of the country, together with local and regional representatives of the NRN member organisations.
At these occasions the county governors, parliament members, municipality officials and other decision makers have been offered a bus trip to see and experience the change in reality. At the same time they have been asked to tell how they want to act in order to make the development take another direction. In each bus(h)tour some 30 – 40 participants have joined.
The study trips have gained a lot of attention both locally and regionally with a number of TV reports and coverage in local radio and newspapers. The working group has gathered all the material from the bus(h)tours at the NRN web page. Link to the web page (in Swedish)
During this summer the 48 leader areas, who got priority for their strategies, have worked hard to complete the last part of their strategies i.e. composition of LAG, selection criteria for projects, establishment of a LAG office etc. During this autumn the LAGs can apply for a final starting approval. Due to a delay in the construction of a totally new IT-system for the whole RDP, the possibility to apply for projects, and thus for the LAGs to make decisions, will not open until March 2016. The five former leader areas who did not get priority for their strategies have also been working hard to find other ways of funding allowing them to implement their strategies outside the RDP economy and rules. All five can still be members of the NRN if they choose to keep on working with the Leader method.
A regional Leader meeting has been arranged in the northern part of Sweden with participation of both all the Leader areas together with representatives for the Regional and Social Fund and several municipality representatives.
The national Leader conference will this year be arranged on the 6-7:th of October in the far north of Sweden, in HaparandaTornio at the border between Sweden and Finland. Actually some of the participants will be hosted at a hotel on the Finnish side and some of them at hotels on the Swedish side. Several Finnish Leader groups are expected to participate.
Together with the NRN Leader conference there will also be the first annual meeting of the National Leader association Lokal Utveckling Sverige. This association was formed during this spring but this will be its first general meeting.
All the Leader areas in Sweden have been offered the possibility to use a common logotype and graphic profile. It has been elaborated by a group within the CLLD coordination group assisted by the NSU. The idea was inspired by the Finnish example. To see the profile please follow the link: landsbygdsnatverket.se/leaderprofil
The working group was established, or re-opened, during the spring of 2015 and has now presented a working plan. The aim is to increase the number of young people applying for subsidies and implementing projects within the RDP. Another aim is to increase the number of young in LAGs and other decision making bodies related to rural development. It will be reached through increasing the knowledge about the real (and low) numbers of young beneficiaries of the RDP, despite all nice words about young as a horizontal target group.
Training sessions for LAG chairmen and nomination committees will be offered and at the national NRN conferences the working group will offer special workshops targeting the rural youth issue.
Together with the NSU some members of the youth working group will examine the communication and especially the website of the NRN to make it more accessible, interesting and attractive for young people.
The main message was ”From word to action”. The challenge is to take away the hurdles and release the potential of the region. The digital connection across the borders is a crucial tool so the title was “ACHIEVING E-QUALITY by CONNECTING the REGION”.
The three years flagship project targeting rural youth has now come to an end. The NRN:s in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden have been active in the project together with several youth organisations and universities in the region. A report from the project can be found at Flagship Report Final.pdf.
Maybe the most important result of the project is the group of young people, from all the participating countries, who have been approved for Seed money from the Swedish Institute to plan an Interreg project based on the experiences from the first phase. The project will be called ”Young ambassadors for democracy”.
The working group Nature Tourism held its first workshop in the middle of August; it was about the interaction between private actors in nature based tourism and public actors. It was the first of three workshops which hopefully will lead to a common picture of the current situation and a conclusion of different possibilities to make a positive development of nature based tourism in Sweden. The overall aim is to strengthen the competitiveness of the private actors.
The working group has, during the first half of this year, met at some occasions to plan and lay the foundation for the future work with the group. The working group will mainly produce data and knowledge to be able to make input to the formulation of a national strategy for Swedish nature based tourism. In the coming years, the group will focus on three different areas; the interaction between the private nature tourism and public actors, industry infrastructure and greater competitiveness in nature based tourism.