The LEADER Programme celebrates its 30th anniversary this week. Established by the European Commission on the 19th of March 1991, LEADER is multi-annual, Community-led Local Development (CLLD) programme focussed on engaging a wide range of local actors in the design and delivery of rural development strategies and allocation of resources. Providing rural individuals and community groups with greater decision-making responsibilities around the future development and direction of their local area not only helps revitalise rural society by creating greater employment opportunities at local level, but also builds strong social cohesion and collaboration within rural communities. The LEADER Programme is therefore well positioned to become the key policy ingredient and catalyst towards the ‘smart’ revolution of rural towns and villages throughout Europe, in line with the EU Action for Smart Villages initiative, launched by the European Commission in 2017.
The acronym ‘LEADER’ derives from the French phrase “Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l’Économie Rurale’ which means, ‘Links between activities for the development of rural economy’. It was first introduced in response to the failure of traditional, top-down policies to address problems faced by many rural areas in Europe. Through its ‘bottom up’ framework, the LEADER Programme now supports the delivery of local development actions which address the overarching needs of rural communities across the European Union (EU) in an innovative, integrated and inclusive manner.
LEADER Programme in Ireland
Since its inception in 1991, the LEADER Programme has been the mainstay of rural community development here Ireland, providing local actors with the necessary resources and support to enable them to actively engage and direct the local development of their area. The most recent LEADER budget allocated to Ireland for example, funded through Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 (RDP), provided €250 million in financial aid to promote social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural communities, up to the end of 2020. Most recently, the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) announced the allocation of €70 million to LEADER Programme until the end of 2022 as part of the two-year Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) transition period. This support, co-funded by the European Union, will provide rural communities and local enterprises throughout Ireland with an opportunity to respond to emerging challenges in their area by supporting measures that provide employment and job creation, as well as promoting the value of social capital and environmental protection.
The LEADER Programme has remained fully operational throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with all Local Action Groups (LAGs) and their Implementing Partners (IPs) located throughout the country continuing to deliver much needed support and assistance to their local communities.
The National Rural Network and the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) will be celebrating such efforts and the success of the LEADER Programme in Ireland by launching a new LEADER Project Case Study booklet highlighting 72 inspirational LEADER project examples located throughout Ireland over the next few weeks. This booklet details the main aims, objectives and background of the selected LEADER project examples in order to help future applicants further see what is possible through LEADER’s community-led approach to rural development, particularly as they prepare to rebuild, redevelop and reenergize as part of Ireland’s Covid-19 crisis recovery response. All 29 Irish LAGs and their respective IPs are represented in this publication.
A range of multi-method communication strategies being employed by the Irish NRN to maximize the success of the LEADER Programme here in Ireland can be found in the LEADER section of the NRN website (please see: https://nationalruralnetwork.ie/leader/). Examples of our key LEADER dissemination tools are also listed below:
LAGs and IPs Contact Details Interactive Map
Thinking about applying for LEADER funding for ‘bottom-up’ community-led development in your locality, but need expert advice? The NRN’s Local Action Groups (LAGs) & Implementing Partners (IPs) interactive map of Ireland provides rural individuals, businesses and community groups with easy and convenient access to relevant contact details, such as email address and phone numbers. This ‘one-stop-shop’ map also contains links to the websites and social media pages of each of Ireland’s LAGs and IPs.
Please see: https://bit.ly/3i2Fb43
LEADER Programme 2014-2020 Project Dashboard
The NRN have created another interactive map of Ireland showcasing the number of projects/initiatives supported by the LEADER Programme 2014-2020 within each of the Local Action Groups (LAGs) located throughout the country. This map also highlights the LEADER spend amount within each LAG up until the end of January 2021.
Please see: https://bit.ly/2JOty4x
LEADER How to Apply Factsheet
The NRN have also produced a useful step-by-step guide exploring how the LEADER funding process works in practice, providing an overview of the main stages involved and necessary requirements when making an application. Please see: https://bit.ly/2Pp451d
LEADER Project Interactive Storyboard
The NRN have developed three interactive Storyboard databases featuring a number of project examples funded under the each of the LEADER Programme 2014-2020 themes. As well as indicating the geographical location of each project, these storyboards provide a summary of each, as well as links to further information. Please see: https://bit.ly/2B6Hr9S
The European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) featured these Storyboards in the Spring/Summer 2019 edition of their Rural Connections magazine (p.36-37) as a good practice dissemination model to communicate the success of the objectives set out in Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020. Please see: https://bit.ly/3ez5Wez
LEADER Project Video Case Studies
Looking for inspirational LEADER funding examples and ideas? If so, then check out the NRN’s collection of LEADER Case Study videos. These videos showcase 8 diverse projects located throughout Ireland that have been funded under the LEADER Programme 2014-2020. Individuals and community groups who have availed of LEADER funding speak passionately in these videos about the importance of the programme and the benefits and success the funding has brought them.
Please see: https://bit.ly/3fP54me
LEADER Project Infographics
The NRN have produced three informative new infographics illustrating the geographical location of 72 project examples throughout Ireland funded under each of the three themes of the LEADER Programme 2014-2020 (Economic Development, Enterprise Development and Job Creation; Social Inclusion & Rural Environment).
Please see: https://bit.ly/2BDJiDf
LEADER Programme Newsletters
In addition to our monthly E-Bulletins and Quarterly Newsletters, the NRN produce a number of LEADER Newsletters every year focusing on issues relating to the LEADER 2014-2020 Programme. The most recent issue, published in August 2020, contained a number of items pertaining to LEADER including an update on how the current LEADER programme 2014-2020 is progressing, as well as NRN activities in relation to ‘bottom-up’ community-led local development.
Please see: https://bit.ly/2BA0Os2
LEADER Impact Campaign
The National Rural Network ran a LEADER Impact campaign in the fourth quarter of 2020 to celebrate the important role of the LEADER Programme across rural Ireland. Entrants to this initiative were asked to prepare a short video detailing the impacts of their LEADER funded project under each of the three themes of the 2014-2020 LEADER Programme.
The winners of this campaign, selected via a public vote process, can be found here: https://bit.ly/3ljgjr1
LEADER Project Case Study Leaflet
The NRN and the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) in conjunction with a number of Local Action Groups (LAGs), Implementing Partners (IPs) and Project Promoters published an informative new booklet in 2019 showcasing a range of different LEADER supported project examples from across the country, funded under each of the LEADER sub-themes of Enterprise Development, Rural Towns, Rural Tourism, Broadband, Rural Youth, Basic Services Targeted at Hard to Reach Communities, Protection and Sustainable Use of Water Resources, Improvement of Local Biodiversity and the Development of Renewable Energy.
Please see: https://bit.ly/37YZYB6
Join the NRN for Free
If you are Interested in issues related to the LEADER Programme, please sign up to the National Rural Network (NRN) on our website on nationalruralnetwork.ie. The NRN essentially acts as the ‘dissemination vehicle’ for Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020 on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD).
Our ambition is to bring the RDP into the lives of as many people as possible by communicating its key opportunities and outputs to all relevant stakeholders.
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