It´s funny how the weather has such an impact on us up here in the north. Usually May is a wonderful and pretty warm month, but not this year. This May was the coldest since 1962. Fortunately there have been a lot of events and activities that have kept us warm and joyful. One really big happening was that the Swedish Rural Development Programme finally was approved by the EU-Commission.
Of the total programme budget is just over 62 % for environment and climate action, 20 % for job creation, development and broadband in rural areas, 8% is to increase the competitiveness in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and reindeer herding and nearly 5 % is for CLLD. The measures in the new Rural Development Programme opens for applications progressively.
The steering group of the network met in May. They decided the activity plan for 2015 and 2016. One of the final changes was to clarify the specific objectives for each prioritised focus area. Many of the expected results will be measured in terms of how the target groups for different network activities experience increased knowledge and added synergies from co-operations.
The steering group decided to start the best practice award (the Wool-Ram Award) in 2017. That means that the nomination and selection process will start in the beginning of next year. Another decision from the meeting was an allocation of network resources to the thematic group for integration. During this year the integration group can carry out different activities within a budget of EUR 50 000.
At each meeting with the steering group they also decide about agreement with new organisations or authorities that apply for a formal membership. At this meeting there were 13 new members that were welcomed to the network by the steering group. In total the network now consists of 70 member organisations and 44 of them are active in different working groups within the network. 26 of the 70 member organisations are new actors compare to the previous period.
The procurement of the innovation support is now finished. The intention with the support is that together with the coordinator of the innovation network help people who are interested in developing a solution to a challenge which may be an innovation in agriculture, horticulture and reindeer herding.
For each innovation supporter it may become appropriate with up to 20 percent of full-time service on an annual basis.
The innovation supporters are also going to be involved in the creation of operational groups and innovation projects. The ongoing work also includes:
The innovation supporters will complement each other so that the main subjects/areas of production; milk, meat, crop production, technology, renewable energy and horticulture is covered up.
Maria Gustafsson and Karin Hjerpe from the Swedish NSU and Patrik Ohlsson from the thematic working group green business participated at the 2nd NRN meeting in Jurmala. We learnt a lot about intervention logic and communication and were inspired by the work performed by other NSUs. One good example is Spain’s and Portugal’s web-based innovation service center, another one is the Finnish communication campaign “Update your countryside”. We look forward to the future outcomes of the work with developing indicators performed by ENRD Contact Point.
During May the 48 Leader areas who got their strategies approved have been gathered to get information about all the things that have to be completed before they can start working. Now is time to select a new LAG, define their own selection criteria for projects, get letter of confirmation for the local public cofinancing etc. Since the Swedish RDP now have been approved by the Commission we need to wait for the EMFF-program to be approved and also the special operative program for CLLD financed jointly by the ERF and ESF is still waiting for approval. There is also a new IT system waiting to be complete. So before September no Leader group will be up running and in reality it might take so long as to the beginning of 2016 until new projects can be started.
The CLLD coordination group had it´s meeting in he beginning of May and among others also the situation with 5 Leader areas not being approved was discussed. A small working group was formed with the purpose to try to find other means of funding outside the CLLD measure and maybe even outside the RDP as a whole.
A three years cooperation between six Baltic Sea countries is about to end. The Rural Network support units as well as many youth organisations, universities and business support organisations have worked together to find ways to support youth participation (in society) entrepreneurship and innovation. The final seminars in each country are going on and during May there have been seminars in Latvia, Estonia and Poland. A group of young from all the countries have already prepared an application to be able to continue in a second phase of the project.
A collection of good examples of support methods has been presented in a report. One interesting result is that there is now a general program supporting rural youth. In the RDP there are specific measures for young farmers and in other national programs there are measures for young. But being young in a rural setting and not a farmer or farmer’s kid, you are not the target group.