The PREPARE partnership is a group of European and national non-government organizations. The partnership was created in 1999, and has expanded as new national rural movements have joined. The current partners are:
- Albanian Rural Development Network
- Croatian Rural Development Network
- ECOVAST, European Council for The Village and Small Town
- Forum Synergies
- Hungarian Rural Parliament
- Kodukant, the Estonian Village Movement
- Latvian Rural Forum
- Lithuanian Rural Communities Union
- National Network of LAGs in the Czech Republic
- Network for Rural Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Network for Rural Development of Serbia
- Polish Rural Forum
- Rural Development Network of the Republic of Macedonia
- Rural Development Network of Montenegro
- Slovakian Rural Parliament
- Slovenian Rural Development Network
- Swedish Village Action Movement
- Village Action Association of Finland (SYTY)
Albanian Rural Development Network (ANRD) is a non-governmental, independent organization registered in 2015 ANRD is a membership organization. It's mission is to promote community-led rural development through advocacy and initiatives on policy development and implementation towards sustainable rural development with the aim to improve the quality life of rural communities. Objectives of the Network are: cooperate, coordinate and advocate jointly with communities, relevant local and national partners, public and private stakeholders, towards sustainable rural development; promote and support community-led local development (CLLD); activating and supporting the members of the network and other local actors; support the relevant local stakeholders for the implementation of the Cross-Cutting Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, in particular the implementation of local strategies for the Local Action Groups (LAG) and Leader +; promote research and innovation in these sectors; publication of materials which contribute to achieve Association’s objectives.
We advocate an evenly developed Croatia, in which residents of rural areas actively contribute to developing their communities by their social and economic activities.
HMRR's areas of activity are (1) advocating interests of rural stakeholders in creating and implementing public policies; (2) networking and informing our members and contributors to rural development, (3) education, exchange of knowledge and experiences and (4) organisation development.
HMRR initiated and organized two Croatian Rural Parliaments. The goal of the national rural parliament is to hear and appreciate the voice of the rural communities. In the rural parliament, rural areas have the opportunity to influence policy and implementation of rural development and strengthen links and partnerships. http://ruralniparlament.com/
Goals of HMRR are to:
- Encourage the development of rural communities, strengthen their abilities and contribute to the development of participative democracy in the rural area of Croatia
- Advocate interests of local stakeholders from rural area in the process of drafting, adopting and implementing policies and regulations
- Cooperate with organizations from different sectors and on different levels in order to contribute to the sustainable development of rural areas in Croatia and in Europe
- Encourage the exchange of opinions, knowledge and experience and disseminate information relevant to the development of rural areas
ECOVAST, the European Council for the Village and Small Town, is a pan-European NGO. It was set up in 1984 to further the wellbeing of rural communities, and the safe-guarding of rural heritage, throughout Europe. It has members – both individuals and organisations – throughout and beyond the EU. It has national sections in Austria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and the United Kingdom, which run their own national activities. We published our Strategy for Rural Europe in 1991; and policy documents on Traditional Rural Buildings, Heritage Trails and Integrated Rural Development. Our international work now focuses on landscape identification, rural architecture and a major project ASSET (Action to Strengthen Small European Towns). We work with the European Commission’s RURBAN initiative to promote small towns as a crucial link between urban and rural areas. We have consultative status with the Council of Europe and the European Commission, including a seat on the EC Rural Development Advisory Committee, and work closely with many other European organisations.
Forum Synergies is a pan-European organisation, with individual and organisational members, based on the achievements of the former European Network of Experiences in Sustainable Development (ENESD). We build our activities on the concrete experience of communities and projects which promote democratic and environmentally sound development. Our thematic workshops include themes like renewable energy, farmer’s ecology, access to land, rural health and many others. We offer support for partnership through dialogue and cooperation between local actors, public services, political decision-makers and private enterprise. Our concept of sustainable development is based on four pillars - the land, the local economy, social cohesion and democratic decision-making. The land theme includes attachment to local culture and protection of nature. The local economy means giving priority to local resources and high local added value. Social cohesion means including people and minorities and sharing knowledge with partners. Finally, we seek to develop methods which enable people to participate in sustainable development and democratic decision-making.
Hungarian Rural Parliament (Videk Parlamentje Egyesulet), set up in 1998, is a network of local and national NGOs which aims to represent the “rural voice” in Hungary. Its seeks to build a network of rural community development initiatives, promote cooperation between different rural actors, improve the situation of disadvantaged social groups such as Roma, protect rural livelihoods, foster citizen participation, and disseminate best practice in rural development. Its annual Assembly decides on strategy and elects the Board, which organises activities : these have a current focus on sustainable food processing and local added value; environment and landscape protection; and local knowledge and lifelong education. The Parliament created strong working connections with about 1000 villages and small towns during the years before EU accession; organised national and regional meetings, plus local workshops, fairs and training sessions; built partnerships with other rural movements in Europe through PREPARE; empowered rural network initiatives in Western Balkan countries and Turkey; and contributed to national debate on the SAPARD and Rural Development Strategies. It promotes inclusive rural development based on the LEADER approach.
Kodukant, the Estonian Village Movement is an association of non-governmental organisations, structured at three levels – village, county and national. It started in 1991, when Estonia’s rural areas began to suffer severely following the country’s independence. Rural enthusiasts made contact with “All Sweden Shall Live”, and learnt how to mobilise the rural population. Kodukant was set up officially in October 1997. It now has about 5,000 members. It embodies the spirit and values of the villages and is driven by a passion to retain rural life and traditions. Its aims are to give technical advice; to promote networking and communication; to arrange training and capacity building; to act as advocate for rural communities; to support local initiatives; and to foster co-operation at all levels. It has offices in each county, which organise events and act as intermediaries between local people and the national board of Kodukant, which deals directly with the Ministry of Agriculture. Every other year, Kodukant organises a Maapaev or Rural Parliament, at which delegates from throughout the country gather to debate issues, prepare declarations to go to government, and agree the association’s programme for the following period.
Latvian Rural Forum (Latvijas Lauku forums) is a national civil association dedicated to the sustainable and balanced development of rural areas. Set up in 2003, it unites 44 rural NGOs which work to build sustainable communities in all regions of Latvia. It has become the voice of civil society in Latvia representing rural NGOs where decisions about rural development are made. Its main tasks are to :
• promote the sustainable development of Latvian rural territories;
• strengthen civil society in rural territories, promoting local initiatives and cooperation;
• represent the interests of rural people at national and international level;
• cooperate with the government, municipalities, NGOs, business persons and other institutions.
The first Latvian Rural Parliament will be held in June 2013. This event will help greatly in developing the NGO cooperation network, encouraging local initiatives through advice and education, and strengthening the Forum’s position in the dialogue between politicians and organisations. The Forum represents the interests of rural NGOs in the national Council of Civil Society and is a member of memorandum between Latvian NGOs and Cabinet of Ministers.
Lithuanian Rural Communities Union was founded in 2001, with the aim to unite rural communities throughout Lithuania and to represent their interests. It is an independent union of rural communities which are registered as public organisations. Its members include more than 1190 rural communities and 20 LAGs. Its mission is to ensure that Lithuanian rural areas are attractive and safe, with good infrastructure, viable agricultural, forestry, fishery and other sectors, healthy environment, and well-managed landscape. It coordinates the activities of rural communities, provides timely information and help, finds and trains new rural leaders, and represents the needs and interests of its members in national government and European institutions. The members take an active part in the network, and their exchange of ideas and experiences helps to ensure the viability and development of rural communities throughout the country. The Union is a member of various institutions, including the Steering Committee for implementation of the Rural Development Programme, the workgroup of the LEADER programme, representing rural communities in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, working with the Lithuanian Parliament etc.
National Local Action Groups Network of the Czech Republic is the Czech partner of PREPARE. It took over this role in 2007 from the Czech National Rural Observatory, which was itself created in 2005 after three years of initiatives by a group of individuals to bring together people involved in rural action. These initiatives included national and regional conferences, training programmes and promotion of LEADER-type local action groups. The Observatory acted as host of the PREPARE Gathering 2006, including five Traveling Workshops. Members of the National Local Action Groups Network include 140 Local Action Groups, covering all rural areas in the Republic. In this way, the Network associates all the major players involved in rural development at local level, and is a partner in regular talks with state institutions. The Network objectives are to improve the quality of life in rural areas through continuous and integrated local development; to ensure exchange of knowledge and experience between the individual members and with others throughout the EU; and to encourage cooperation with other countries that are ready to apply the LEADER approach in their rural areas.
Rural Development Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina (RDN BiH) was set up in Sarajevo in 2014. RDN BiH establishment is initiated within the EU funded ACoRD project (Alliance for Common Rural Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina) by 4 local partner organisations: ACED, REDAH, “Nešto Više”, LAG Una-Sana; in partnership with the EU partner ELARD. RDN BiH is established with a goal to achieve a strong and strategic partnership of civil society sector engaged in rural development in BiH. Currently it has 18 member organisations (13 civil society organisations and 5 Local action groups (LAGs)). RDN BiH operates on the overall territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In order to align its operations with the administrative structure of BiH, RDN BiH intends to establish multiple organisational units in BiH’s entities. RDN main objectives are: to improve cooperation, dialogue and overall activity of civil society organisations and public bodies that operate in rural development sector, with the aim of representing the interests of rural population and enabling exchange of information, knowledge, experiences and views of different stakeholders presented in rural areas; to contribute to the improvement of quality of life in rural areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina by promoting sustainable usage of existing resources to stimulate development of rural areas and improve rural economy; to represent the interests of RDN members.
Network for Rural Development of Serbia is a young and under-valued organisation in the sector of rural development in Serbia. However, it has the great advantage of 16 member organisations, which between them cover the whole of rural Serbia and have significant experience and remarkable results in promoting local development. The mission of the Network is to promote an evenly developed Serbia, in which rural areas are a desirable place to live, where people contribute with their work and activities to the conservation, development and improvement of all potentials, values and advantages that rural communities have. In pursuing this mission, we work with all registered agricultural households, local governments, entrepreneurs and companies, and Ministries. Our work programme is focused on
• Improving information-service provisions for rural stakeholders
• Active involvement in planning and implementation of rural development measures
• Strengthening the capacity and sustainability of the organisation
• Improving visibility and recognisability of the organisation
Rural Development Network of the Republic of Macedonia was established in March 2010 in Skopje, as a movement at national level to provide a voice for rural communities in the Republic of Macedonia. Currently, the Network has 53 NGOs as members represented at its Assembly, and is working closely with about 1,500 rural leaders. The membership is very diverse, including associations which represent farmers, rural women, craftsmen, rural tourism workers, environmentalists etc. As an umbrella organisation, the Network has the potential to support the interests of civil society, to promote networking, and to keep rural development on the agenda of all relevant actors at national and local level. Using the bottom-up approach, the Network currently has six priority areas of action - pioneering the LEADER approach and creating links between stakeholders at local level; the economic empowerment of women in rural areas; agriculture and forestry; cultural heritage as a tool for development of rural areas through promotion of rural tourism; sustainable management of the environment; and diversification of economic activity in rural areas.
The Montenegrin Network for Rural Development (MNRD) was founded by 11 NGOs in 2012 and currently consists of 22 NGOs aimed at rural development. Network has already developed a good relationship with all the local governments in Montenegro, as well as the majority of ministries, of which the most productive collaboration has with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, with which it has signed an agreement on cooperation and mutual support. MNRD is one of the network initiators and founders of the Balkan Network for Rural Development (BNRD). Since its founding MNRD besides the ordinary had several activities such as: organization of the international conference "The role of civil society in rural development of the Western Balkan" (2012); establishment and continuous work on the portal "Rural Portal”; co-organization of "Traveling workshops Montenegro - Macedonia - Serbia" (2014); organization of the international conference "The role of family’s agriculture in the development of rural areas" (2014). MNRD has also participated in all major domestic, regional and international events that have been organized since its founding.
Polish Rural Forum (Forum Aktywizacji Obszarów Wiejskich, FAOW) is the national platform for cooperation among rural NGOs in Poland. Set up informally in 2002, it was legally registered in 2005 as a “union of associations”, the members being organisations dealing with rural development. It has over 80 members, including nearly all national-level organisations in that field, “umbrella” organisations representing rural communities, many local and regional NGOs and over 30 LAGs. Its charter ensures that the small local organisations are not dominated by the big national-level players. Its activities include:
• education and training for local communities and rural NGOs
• stimulating cooperation between rural development actors, including support to networking between LAGs at national and
• animating debate on rural policy
• facilitating exchange between rural actors in Poland and rural NGOs in other countries
• sharing its experience with rural stakeholders in EU candidate countries.
The Forum is currently running a project “Making a good start”, to support the setting up and capacity building of rural NGOs, funded by the European Social Fund.
The Rural Parliament of Slovakia (Vidiecky Parlament na Slovensku - VIPA) was established in 2000, to promote the development of rural areas and address the lack of co-ordination between the many organisations and groups working with rural development. The national organisation has also established regional associations in the eight administrative regions of Slovakia. There are no village associations, due to the structure of municipalities at village level. Instead, the movement has focused on supporting the formation of partnerships at micro-regional level, and has initiated a network of 48 Communication and Information Centres. These form the grassroots of the movement.
Slovenian Rural Development Network was set up in 2003, following a nationwide consultation supported by PREPARE. Its mission is to bring together all those individuals and organisations who are involved in rural development in Slovenia. It seeks to facilitate co-operation and mutual help among individuals and rural organisations, in order to ensure effective representation of rural interests and the flow of information between government and NGOs and from local to regional, national and international level. It has drawn inspiration from the government’s earlier CRPOV programme for Integrated Rural Development and Village Renewal, and from its partners in PREPARE. It wishes to be an equal partner in shaping legislation and rural development policy, on behalf of the broad rural interests in Slovenia. It has an advocacy role at national and international level. Its current activity is focused on informing members and the public about measures for rural development; providing support for the LEADER programme in Slovenia; organising Rural Parliaments in Slovenia and international exchange with rural parliaments abroad; and active participation in international LEADER institutions and the PREPARE network.
Hela Sverige ska leva! All Sweden Shall Live! (formerly the Swedish Popular Movements Council for Rural Development) is one of the two largest and most highly developed among the national rural movements of Europe, the other being SYTY in Finland. Like SYTY, it receives significant Government funding, which is rare among movements elsewhere. It arose in the 1980s in response to a campaign, supported by Government, to address the de-population of rural areas in the north of Sweden. The movement has assisted the formation of about 5,000 village associations, with 100,000 people directly involved. In addition to the village representatives, the organisation has about 40 national NGOs as members. It provides practical support to local actors and develops programmes for rural development. Its biennial Rural Parliament involves over 1,000 village representatives and provides a direct voice to the Government. It also has a lobbying role and seeks to influence the Government and politicians at every level.
The Village Action Association of Finland (Suomen Kylatoiminta Ry – SYTY) was the first ‘village action movement’ in modern Europe. It began in the 1970s as a response to rural decline and depopulation. The current organisation, SYTY, was formed in 1997. Its main activities focus on strategic village planning and policy development, advocacy and lobbying, support to village and regional associations, projects and services for inhabitants, international co-operation. SYTY mobilises and supports almost 4,000 village associations and has formed regional associations in each of the 19 administrative regions. It develops strategic plans, including the National Village Programme, which feeds directly into the national Rural Policy Programme. It also implements a wide range of rural development projects and supports the developing movements in Central and Eastern Europe. It has also provided the service of the Finnish LEADER network. One of its key achievements has been to influence the development of rural policy in Finland.