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July is the vacation period in Sweden. The first week in August might also be a little bit laid back since many has a late holiday but from the second week everything starts and the workload is like a bottle of ketchup. First nothing and then everything comes at the same time.
For the new program period there are two thematic working groups that are really active and included in the NRN activity plan. One is the Green Businesses Group (Strengthening the green businesses web) and the other is the Coordination group for Community Lead Local Development. There is of course also a new steering group that has been started during the year. Besides these major working groups the NSU also gives support to a “sub network” Civil servants for rural development employed by the municipalities and regions, which has become an important target group for the NRN. There are also two older working groups, whose funding and working period in fact have been ended, but they “refuse to die”. The working group for “Local Capital” and the working group for “Integration in rural areas” continue without funding but with some administrative support from the NSU.
Beside the two big working groups, August and September was dominated by the change of the graphic profile of the web page and in other documents. During the ongoing program period, the Swedish rural network will also work with the European Maritime and Fishery Fund. As a first step a workshop was arranged with around 40 participants, including stakeholders from fishery and aquaculture, in order to identify prioritized network activities.
NSU contact person: Nils Lagerroth
In September the steering committee for the Swedish Rural Network approved a new working plan for the group. The group started in 2012 and has implemented a series of networking activities with the aim to strengthen the competitiveness for the green businesses, such as organized field days for consumers on farms in spring when the cows are turned-out to pasture after winter, seminars on biodiversity and environmental benefits of grazing on semi-natural grasslands, a report and seminar on cooperation between farmers and a survey among municipalities and local authorities on public procurement and quality of food in schools, hospitals and for elderly care.
The group will for the rest of 2014 and 2015 continue to work on public procurement by, among other things, disseminating best practices in schools and hospitals that have good quality of their food. There will be new regional seminars on the environmental benefits of grazing animals and also a seminar together with The Swedish Consumers' Association about how "ordinary" people can buy food more consciously. The group will also conduct activities on how farms can be strengthened financially thanks to its cultural heritage. Seminars about renewable energy from agriculture will be arranged and activities to facilitate for farmers to export their products.
NSU contact person: Hans-Olof Stålgren
For the new program period the former coordination group for Leader has been expanded to meet the challenge of CLLD with all four funds available. Thus, added to the Leader representatives, there are now also representatives for the FLAG:s, the Social Fund and the Regional Fund. We have also included representatives for the Managing Authority and some important national organisations such as the Federation of farmers, the village movement All Sweden shall Live, The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions and The Federation of Rural Economy and Agricultural Societies.
The process of forming the new CLLD/Leader groups is intense this autumn. The local development strategies have to be delivered to the managing authority at the latest the 1:st of December. With a slightly lower total budget and a higher demand from the MA for good administrative capacity in the LAGs, there is a lot to do to redefine the territories and find the new partners. Since most of the LAGs want to use all four funds available, there are a lot of new questions to solve. The Coordination Committee for CLLD tries to help this by establishing a good dialogue with the MA and also by organizing regional meetings for all the interested LAGs. Six regional meetings were organized during the end of August and the beginning of September with about 300 participants in all. The meetings focused on how to create real functional territories with regards both to the administrative capacity, the competence in LAG and the function of the different funds chosen for the strategy. The quite large coordination group has been organized in several small working groups. They are:
NSU contact person: Inger Pehrson
The work to initiate operational groups for innovation and innovation brokers have begun during late summer, with workshops and meetings. Inger Pehrson is newly employed full time at the NSU as responsible for initiating and organizing the Swedish EIP network.
NSU contact person: Maria Gustafsson
During the two last years the national rural network has been supporting a sub network among rural developers employed by municipalities, regions and county administrations. These civil servants are often the only one in their kind of profession in their organizations and need arenas for cooperation and mutual learning. Today this sub network consists of almost 180 members. This autumn a coordination group has planned for and will arrange three regional network meetings.