Kick-off meeting of the Regional Expert Advisory Working Group (REAWG) on LEADER, 28th February – 1st March

Kick-off meeting of the Regional Expert Advisory Working Group (REAWG) on LEADER was held in Skopje in the period 28th February – 1st March, where ministry representatives, international experts and national experts from each SEE country, as well as other stakeholders were discussing the opportunities, challenges, and priorities related to the LEADER approach in the SEE.

The LEADER (Liaisons Entre Actions de Développement de l’Économique Rurale)  Approach stands for area-based, bottom-up and multi-sectoral local rural development. The approach is based on autonomous public-private partnerships at the local level for designing and implementing their very own, unique development strategies. The guiding principles of the LEADER Approach proved to be success-factors for self-determined community-led local/rural development, not only in the European Union but also broadly.

The regional assessment titled “Assessment of the application of the LEADER Approach in the Western Balkan Countries/Territories – From a local initiative to a mainstream concept in the rural areas” has been conducted within the framework of the GIZ-SWG project “Rural Development through Integrated Forest and Water Resource Management in Southeast Europe” (LEIWW) on behalf of the German Cooperation and was aiming to assess the current stage of the implementation of LEADER Approach in the SEE countries and provide recommendations to improve the understanding of the LEADER Approach and contribute to its effective implementation.

The kick-off meeting of the Regional Expert Advisory Working Group (REAWG) on LEADER, as first of the upcoming activities related to LEADER within the GIZ project “Support to Economic Diversification of Rural Areas in Southeast Europe (SEDRA)” is a follow-up of the previous phase for assessment of the application of LEADER in the SEE countries.

The REAWG on LEADER will be working on providing advice on development of the institutional, strategic and regulatory framework for introducing LEADER as a prerequisite for achieving the accreditation of the LEADER measure; providing advice on development of secondary legislation (rulebooks and regulations on Local Action Groups encompassing guidelines for potential LAG constituents on their setting up, role, functioning and accreditation, including start-up toolkits for devising Local Development Strategies (LDSs); perform assessment of existing LAGs (pre-LAGs) and their capacities and develop capacity building plan; propose capacity building plan on LEADER/ CLLD for national, regional and local administration;  proposing adequate approach to better link LAGs (pre-LAGs) with SHG in the cross-border areas; identifying good examples and practices to raise awareness about the importance of the implementation of LEADER / CLLD in SEE and their importance for sustainable development of rural areas and assess the possibilities to apply digital approaches.

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