Petri Rinne: “We have learned that LEADER works in a variety of different socio-economic and political contexts”

Finnish Petri Rinne leads the workshop ‘LEADER beyond rural and the EU’

Rinne has extensive experience leading Local Action Groups, known as LAG. He is currently the manager of LAG LEADER in south-west Finland and chairs the Finnish Village Movement Association, an organisation that brings together Finnish rural and urban communities and LEADER Local Action Groups. Previously he chaired the European LAG Network (ELARD). One of his passions is the dissemination of the LEADER method to new geographical and policy areas seeking to make a difference in development, understanding the difference between different territories. And of course beyond the EU, as in the Balkans, Latin America or Africa.

 To say LEADER means rural development in EU, but this is changing

Indeed this has been changing ever since the New Member States joined the EU in 2005. We have learnt that LEADER works well in a variety of different socio-economic and political contexts, also in the Developing Nations and outside the EU.

Why is this opening to new policy areas and territories, even outside Europe?

It is important that EU LAGs also cooperate with rural territories outside the EU – also the European Parliament said this in its CAP Amendments when this policy was reformed for the current 2014-20 period. These areas are often in need of bottom-up development tools, public participation and local level empowerment. LEADER can bring all these.

In which other countries is LEADER being implanted?

I started with Mozambique in 2006, and our pilot LAG in Zambezia – one of its provinces – is still running and supported by the Province authorities. After that I’ve been helping with LEADER pilots in the Republic of South Africa, Russia, China and Georgia. Many other colleagues have been doing the same in different parts of the world, like Latin America.

“The future of rural areas is in the hands not only of the rural population, but also of the urban population”

Does breaking down these barriers beyond the rural through LEADER mean establishing synergies between rural and urban areas?

In the EU we have also seen LEADER extend from rural policy to coastal, social and urban policy fields, under the Community-Led Local Development heading. This of course brings in new synergies between these different types of territories. New rural-urban links are much needed and very welcome. The future of rural areas is not only in the hands of rural people, but also in the hands of urban people – how they choose to consume food and other products and use their free time.

What can you tell us about the lessons being learned from these experiments?

These experiments have proved that LEADER is a very flexible and effective method for local development: not only community-led but people-led. People and their energy are the main resources of the method and when we channel this energy in a right way, we can make miracles in very different kinds of circumstances.

What expectations do you have about ERP?

To form a single voice of European grassroots level rural movements to influence EU level policy making in the 2021-27 period. Like LEADER is showing, other continents are watching our example and learning from us.