Now it has been a while since we gave an update in English on what is happening in Sweden. The good part is, that it is because we have had so much to do during previous months that we have not found the time to write this review. So, there are a lot of things to report. But we will try to make it as concrete as possible.
In November, we arranged our national networking event and attached to that our Rural Gala where we awarded the best projects and businesses with the Wool-Ram Award. This is one of the highlights in our area of business - to create the arenas where people can meet, share ideas and give their instant feedback on the work within our network, the rural development programme, the maritime and fisheries programme and community-led local development. In a short while, we will also be ready with the English version of our brochure “Rural Best 2017” where we gather all the final nominees for the Wool-Ram Award.
The theme of the networking event was “The ruralities has keys to bio based- and circular economy”. We invited Professor Gunter Pauli from ZERI (Zero Emissions Research & Initiatives) to give the key note speak. It was recorded in Amsterdam and shown on a large video screen. Afterwards we had him live from Argentina to answer questions from the participants. It was really a good start to ignite thoughts and discussions.
The knowledge exchange around the Baltic Sea between the National Support Units is increasing for every year. In September, the Baltic Leadership Programme was launched with an emphasis on the EMFF. National Support Units and managing authorities took part in the programme. Later in the same month, we had a group of managers within the Finnish Rural Development Programme coming for a visit to Sweden. Around 20 Finns and 15 Swedes took part and the first day was more formal and theoretical with a meeting at the Swedish Government’s house in Stockholm. The second day was more practical with a study tour outside the city of Uppsala and visits to the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, farms, tourist projects and the Leader area “Upplandsbygd Lokalt ledd utveckling”.
Finally, we have our new project MATtanken (Food Tank) up and running! This is a project that will focus on bringing all the stakeholders surrounding public kitchens together. The aim is to raise awareness about where the food comes from, how it is produced and how to procure it in the best and most sustainable way.
A campaign about fossil free energy is now being launched with videos, articles and meetings. The purpose is to share good examples on farmers who have invested in fossil free energy.
This is a subgroup attached to our Green Businesses group. They have taken the initiative to produce three podcasts in our podcast series called Landet (casual term meaning Rural Areas). Most of their initiatives deals with the fact that we need more young adults to become farmers and so did these podcast episodes. But our group for Fishery and Aquaculture have also had an activity aiming towards youth and how we can have more of young entrepreneurs in the business.
Our youth group have arranged some webinars and also taken the initiative to launch a series of webinars aiming towards everyone who has an interest in rural development. We have created a concept with 20 minutes of presentation from an interesting person followed by 20 minutes of questions and answers. The software we are using is Adobe Connect and the webinars will be held on Tuesdays during lunchbreak. This makes it possible for everyone to attend as long as they have a computer, tablet or a mobile in front of them. The name of the webinar series is “Landet lär” (meaning Rural Learning/Rural Teaching).
This group is soon to be closed down since they have finalised their assignments. After an intensive autumn they are now ready with a study of nature-based tourism entrepreneurs. With the help of 25 interviews and a focus group they have been able to put together a report that will be of good use for policy making and understanding of the sector.
The group have also made a survey to list all educations for nature-based tourism. They will now add some recommendations and hand over the survey to the Occupational Board for Nature-Based Tourism.
The results from this group will be disseminated through a conference on 12 April. At that conference a guide book will also be presented with the study as a base. The guide book will consist of several recommendations that address entrepreneurs. It will also contain a number of inspirational and instructive articles that highlight good examples of companies that have succeeded in the following areas: Business Opportunities, Collaboration and Local Connection, Infrastructure, Sustainability, Digital Transformation and Export-Driven Products.
We will also produce a podcast and a webinar on the same topic in order to reach as many people from our target groups as possible.
A study of newly arrived women’s situation in rural areas has started. The study will describe five or six projects that has received funding with the aim to improve newly arrived women’s integration in rural societies. The study will put the spotlight on factors of success, tips and ideas to others who wants to start similar projects. In April the study will be ready. This is also important material for policy making and the group will present the results at Almedalsveckan - the most important annual forum in Swedish politics.
The working group arranged a webinar in March with the topic “How to get better Public Transportation in Rural Areas”. During almost two hours, the viewers got to listen to four different speakers about shared transport systems, public transports in the archipelago and a researcher from Lund University. Nearly 100 persons registered for the webinar and the feedback was really positive.
In cooperation with the Swedish Association for Agricultural Colleges the working group will send out a survey to all colleges on how they are providing education and support to youth with foreign background.
We arranged a thematic meeting on Fishing and Aquaculture and how these businesses contribute to rural development. This was a meeting where we invited all Leader areas with an interest in developing these sectors. More than 40 persons from 14 Leader areas, researchers and students from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences attended the meeting.
The group has also arranged a national Fishing Tourism conference and a breakfast seminar in the national parliament on the topic “New jobs and sustainable food production through simple legislative adjustments.”
This group have taken the initiative for both a podcast and a newsletter on the topic “Better cooperation in order to create successful service solutions in different rural areas”. During the spring of 2018, the group will arrange regional meetings with a good geographical spread across Sweden.
At the Swedish Rural Parliament 2018, in the region of Västernorrland, the group will arrange a seminar about Service in Rural Areas together with Rural Sweden (Hela Sverige ska leva) and The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth.
In the working group of the European Network for Rural Development, ENRD, on Smart Villages this group is very active. This is a platform where we both can contribute with our own knowledge but of course learn from the rest of Europe on how they have solved problems and come up with new service solutions.
It is now two and a half years since it was first possible to apply for the new innovation support within EIP-Agri. That was the reason for our Half Time Conference in January for project managers and representatives from research, authorities, organisations and the industry. The aim of the conference was to sum up what has been good, not so good and challenges for the coming years. Inge van Oost from DG Agri gave a description of the implementation so far of EIP-Agri in the EU.
Today we have more than 30 formally approved Operational Groups and about the same amount are waiting for a formal approval. Of around 250 applications for “setting up support” around 165 have been approved. The Innovation Support Group connected to The National Rural Network has discussed more than 350 innovation- or project ideas with potential applicants.
We are now preparing for our national Leader Network Meeting in 24-25 April. Sustainable Development is in focus this time and the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals will be scrutinised and discussed in order to get the participants thinking how to better adapt strategies and daily work with sustainability in mind.
During 2018 the National Support Unit is making a special effort to help Local Action Groups to get started with Trans-National Cooperation, TNC. Some funding have been set aside to pay for an advisor who will give practical information and share experiences. That can for instance be about how to formulate partnership requests or important parts in a partnership contract. Much of the work is about helping to find relevant partners. There is a TNC working group with three LAG representatives and two from the NSU. One of the LAG representatives is also the TNC coach paid by the NSU, to work part time with this during 2018. Are you interested in working with Swedish LAGs? Then please contact Marion Eckardt, firstname.lastname@example.org, who is the main contact person working with TNC coaching.