Where did January go? This first month of the year has a tendency to pass without blinking. Perhaps it´s because of some days off around New Year’s leave. Or perhaps it´s because everyone's eagerness to get started with the planning and the activities that will make a difference. It could be both. Our thematic working groups create such great interest and involvement among our stakeholders. It is really impressing to see the power of rural development.
As we told you about in the previous monthly review, there were four new thematic initiatives that were prioritised by the Steering Committee. The next step in the start up process is for the Steering Committee to appoint chairmen and declare the missions for the new thematic groups in terms of specific objectives and expected results. During January the NSU together with the organisations, who have taken the initiatives have been busy with preparing basis of decisions for the Steering Committee. As a result of these preparations new organisations have applied for membership, among these several youth organizations and oneethnic immigration organisation.
Tommy Nilsson, Communications Officer, attended the meeting in Brussels the 29th of January. As always it was very nice to meet colleagues from all over Europe. The final nominees for the CAP Communication Awards were a great source of inspiration.
A draft of the Communication Plan for 2015-2016 has now been written. It focuses on the different initiatives that have been raised by the member organisations of the Swedish Rural Network and also describes the daily work with communication. Our website, social media and the monthly newsletter are the most important tools for sharing of information. Added to that are also meetings of various kinds - thematic, local, regional, national and international. The Communication Strategy for 2014-2020 is a base for all communication activities in the network. Both the Communication Plan and the long term strategy are decided by our Steering Committee and they also revise it on a continuous basis.
This working group is an initiative of the Swedish Ecotourism Society and LRF, the Swedish Farmer’s Federation.
We have been planning for the start-up of the new working group Nature tourism. An initial discussion about the formulation of goals and nomination of the chairman of the group has been implemented. The mission is to develop a comprehensive national action plan for nature tourism. The agenda will include how the sector´s own organisations and infrastructure can take greater responsibility for a more resource-efficient and long-term development model. The members of the working group will soon be appointed. We have already noted that the interest of becoming a group member is huge among our stakeholders.
The working group Green businesses is active with various issues to improve competitiveness and the environment related to green businesses. In January, the group work included
Evaluation of the information materials produced for better quality food in public kitchens
An evaluation has been sent to the managers for the publicly owned kitchens (in schools, kindergartens, hospitals, elderly centers etc.). The evaluation was about how the information material produced by the rural network unit has been used to improve the quality of food in the public kitchens. The results show that many used the material and that it has been appreciated. Many of the respondents had not, however, seen the material before. The evaluation, gave strong support that the rural network should continue to be involved in this issue with for example regional meetings and dissemination of good practice.
Young green entrepreneurs
We have extended the working group by involving a group of young people involved in green businesses. The working group plans to provide information material to support those who want to buy or take over an agricultural property. An important aspect is also good examples of young entrepreneurs who established themselves in the green sector. Furthermore, the group plans to participate during the year at high school fairs with information on educational programs for agricultural, forestry and gardening as well as an information campaign about green businesses towards educational and vocational counselors.
The group plans to implement six bus tours in the spring with the aim to show the public, journalists, politicians and others the change that takes place in the Swedish rural areas where many pastures become forests with reduced food production and reduced biodiversity as a result. The Bus tours are called "Bush tours”.
Exports of food
The working group plans to implement three regional information meetings and develop a tutorial about how small rural businesses can export food.
The Rural Network steering committee has decided to give priority to working with an improved integration of new arrivals to Swedish rural areas. There are many refugees to Sweden today that lives in rural areas and who need to get in touch with the surrounding society, not least at getting internships and jobs. The working group for the integration of new citizens in rural areas that earlier have existed within the network, have received a renewed mandate to come up with proposals for suitable network activities and has now started its work.
During January the Leader/CLLD-groups have received response to their strategies, from the external evaluators. The feedback has been given in order so all the strategies will have a clear logic and fulfil the formal requirements. In February the Approval Committee will start their work to evaluate the strategies and in April the groups will get the answer if their strategies have been approved. The formal and practical start up for the new LAGs is estimated to September 2015 at the earliest. The CLLD coordination group works closely with the MA discussing and finding solutions to the issues and needs found in the process.
The 22-23 of January the NRN, as a partner in the Flagship project about rural youth in the Baltic Sea Region, participated in an international conference about “How to motivate rural youth” organized in Rakvere in Estonia by four Estonian LAGs. About 35 representatives from the project partners in FI, EE, LV, LT, PL and SE participated together with some 100 Estonian Leader representatives.