Communities as developers

Rural communities across Europe have developed many ways to take charge of their own local development processes. This workshop will draw on good examples, identify some of the main barriers to these initiatives and make recommendations as to the policy frameworks required to support community led development.

Leader / Speaker

Vanessa Halhead has worked with rural community development for over 35 years, at all levels including in her own rural community in the Scottish Highlands, regionally, nationally and internationally. She was part of the team that established the European Rural Community Alliance ERCA and the first European Rural Parliament. She has co-ordinated both ERCA and the ERP since the start, so has a wide understanding of rural development across Europe.  She helped to establish and manage the very first rural community movement in Scotland – Highlands and Islands Forum. More recently she worked with the Scottish Government to establish Scottish Rural Action and the first Scottish Rural Parliament, and is a Director of SRA. She has worked with some of the most peripheral and fragile rural communities in Scotland. At local level she lives in one of the most dynamic small communities in the Scottish Highlands – Cromarty, a community of about 800 people, which has 42 local organisations undertaking amazing projects. Vanessa is a life-long committed supporter of rural people and places and believes, from experience, in their extraordinary capacity to take responsibility for their own futures.

Leader / Speaker

Ryan Howard has been Chief Executive Officer with SECAD Partnership since its formation in 1995. SECAD started operating from its based in the town of Midleton (Cork County, Ireland).  Over that time SECAD has evolved from an organisation managing a single programme (LEADER) into a Multi-Fund Local Development Platform.  SECAD also manages a number of national and cross-border projects. The communities where SECAD works vary from  peripheral rural and coastal villages that struggle economically and socially; to strong market towns and peri-urban areas.  There is also a growing emphasis and challenge in terms of addressing environmental issues (such as a loss of pollinators) and supporting ‘climate positive’ actions. Ryan and the Board of SECAD have recognised the value of networking from the perspective of ‘sharing’ as well as ‘learning’ from experience and are active members of the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) and have contributed on a number of occasions to seminars and working groups established by the Brussels based European Network for Rural Development (ENRD), the LEADER ‘LINC’ network and recent European Rural Parliament Assemblies.