As a Swede you just have to talk about the weather while starting any communication or conversation. Yes, we finally have gone back to more normal weather with cold nights and even snow quite far south. The terrible attacks of terrorism in Paris, and what have followed has affected us all, some of us have been affected personally. This makes it even more important to work for cooperation and a joint work for a good society in Europe. It also underpins the importance to continue and enhance the integration both in rural areas and elsewhere.
On November the 24th we had a conference for all the thematic working groups. The aim of the conference was to inform each other and enable synergies and also concrete cooperation between the groups. Working with the green businesses is also touching upon nature tourism. Youth in rural areas is relevant for all the other working groups as well as integration etc. During the conference the EIP innovation support was also included. Even if they are not formal thematic working groups, both the Coordination group for CLLD and the special Network for public rural development officers, participated in the meeting. It was also discussed how the stakeholders from the fishery sector can be included in the NRN. One idea was to include them in activities of the thematic working group for area based businesses, like “Food is Life”. Many different possibilities of crosscutting activities were discovered and will be pursued.
The yearly NRN meeting was held the 25th of November in connection with the joint meeting for the TWG:s held the day before. Some 210 participants from many different member organisations met to hear several lectures, to mingle to create contacts during the four different time slots for that purpose and of course to participate in the thematic workshops, mainly organized by the thematic working groups themselves. The focus aimed on how the rural areas and its businesses, including the blue business sector, can deliver to the EU 2020 goals. The meeting was also an official kick off for the Maritime and Fisheries Program in Sweden.
The EU Commission DG Agri was represented by Sören Kissmeyer and Agneta Sturesson. Serge Gomes da Silva and Stig Hansson came from FARNET. Remco Schroeder represented the EIP Service Point. The results from the workshops were presented in fictive headlines of November 2020.
The EIP-Agri initiative is placed within the NSU and as a part of this there has been five thematic specialists contracted as innovation support. The most frequent questions to the innovation support at the network is about technical solutions. It is quite obvious since questions in the other support themes, dairy production, cattle and beef production, horticulture and renewable energy very often includes technical issues.
The Swedish activity “Food is Life”, copying the concept from the initiative “Food for Life” in the UK, where the famous cook Jamie Oliver is working to lift the knowledge and quality in school kitchens, has already started with a first conference to gather ideas about how to design the concept for a Swedish context.
The interesting thing is that the State Food Agency, who is a member of the TWG, has taken this initiative but they have found the NRN and its´ working group as the best neutral platform to implement the project. In the TWG they have the Federation of Farmers, The Association of Consumers, WWF, The State Agency for Nature Conservation, The Organic Farmers, The Pig Producers Association, The Young Farmers association and a few others gathered at the same table working together. If the Food Agency should try this by themselves they would not have enough credibility, according to Eva Sundberg, the representative in the group.
Within the Food is Life initiative the preschools, schools, hospitals, elderly homes and the food production chain are backing up the idea about the need for good and healthy meals, with a quite holistic view. The chain being how the food is produced and how it is served to what the content is and how it affects health, environment and society. Eva Sundberg, from the Food Agency, is saying that “It is a hot topic and we want to change the view of public food to be an investment instead of being just a cost.”
As mentioned in the Monthly review for October the CLLD Coordination group has been working to formulate a new assignment or task for the group during next year when the leader groups finally will get started. The coordination group will be smaller, from 25 to about 15 representatives. The focus will not be on technical regulation discussions about strategies and rules for selection of LAGs any more. The three main focuses approved by the NRN steering committee will be:
Beside the web survey about how NGOs and private individuals are working to welcome refugees and immigrants and facilitate the integration, there is also an activity to find methods to identify possible and available housing in rural areas. It is carried out together with some pilot municipalities. The aim is to spread good examples of many different ways to find housing.
The long term goal for this thematic working group is to be integrated in all the others. It should not be necessary to have a thematic group for youth. There should be a perspective from young people in all thematic working groups. But until then this group will work with education and training for LAGs and other groups and organisations about how to find, welcome and include young people. A report that has been made showed that young people to a very small extent has been the beneficiaries of the RDP in the last program period. This must be improved in the forthcoming period.
Access to services in rural areas is the base line to create a good quality of life and a necessary ground for business and growth in rural areas. There are funds allocated for this both in the RDP, including CLLD but also at a national basis. The thematic group will work to coordinate information and activities with all these funding opportunities. This will also be done in cooperation with the other thematic working groups. Leader/CLLD was pointed out as a very important way to work with service solutions.
Integration of refugees placed in asylum centers in rural areas requires a functioning service. On the other hand this also creates an increased demand for service.
There are 100 million Indians planning to make tourism travels to Europe. There are also about 100 million Chinese tourists planning for a European vacation. There is a huge market potential for nature-based tourism or eco-tourism. The business branch with highest growth in the world is tourism. nature-based tourism is “transported consumption”. The conclusion is that tourism is a large opportunity for rural development.
There are almost 200 public officers in the network from all over Sweden. The aim is to strengthen the experience transfer between the network members. Another aim is to be a channel for many of the activities planned in all the other thematic working groups. The network organizes regional and national meetings and have also set up a Facebook group and a web site. The issues brought up by the service group are very relevant for the network. Most of the public officers in the network are also very much involved in the formation of the leader areas and the implementation of their local development strategies. But issues regarding youth in rural areas and nature based tourism are also very relevant.
A meeting has been arranged for the CLLD working with the EMFF. The participants discussed future cooperation and Serge Gomes da Silva from FARNET took part informing about the support and service offered from them. The meeting agreed about the need for thematic LAG-meetings (or a subnetwork) for the 13 LAGs who have funding from the EMFF. Four of them have only funding from the Fisheries Fund while the rest are multi funded LAGs working also with the EAFRD, ERF and ESF.
An initiative will also start during 2016 within the network targeting the EMFF as a whole, not only specifically the LAGs. The main goals is to work with: