2300 local action groups are working for rural development in Europe

The international conference masLEADER held in Madrid endorse the need to increase the participation of local population in development processes.

Madrid has received between 23 and 24 October the International Conference másLEADER. Experiences and proposals for the sustainability of rural areas, a meeting that endorsed not only the validity but also the need to maintain and enhance local action groups and their methodology of work for the forthcoming programming period LEADER (2014-2020).

The LEADER framework of the European Union provides funds for rural development in the european countries, for programs based on the participation of local actors.

During the closing session of the conference, the president of the Spanish Network for Rural Development (REDR, in spanish), Aurelio Garcia Bermudez, organizer of the event, recalled the work of local action groups over 20 years. “It was an effort that has allowed the creation of employment, promotion of cultural heritage, public participation in decision-making, sustainability…”, he said.

On the first day, the director general of horizontal aspects of the Directorate General for Agriculture of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Sousa, recalled that 2300 LAGs exist in Europe. “The real added value of LEADER, and what makes it so special, is that the contribution of all local stakeholders, public and private, is taken into account through their ideas, knowledge and experience in a local development process, something that generates real defining territorial projects”, he explained.

The World Rural Forum has also participated in this conference. The organization’s executive secretary, Jose Mari Zeberio, moved his reflections in a discussion panel along with different spokesmen. Zeberio expressed the importance of the role of Family Agriculture in rural development and stressed the opportunity offered by the International Year of Family Farming 2014 to delve into that direction.