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UE-Moldova LEADER Conference, 2nd edition: Achievements and Future Perspectives of the LEADER Approach. Press Release

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6 October 2022
Visits: 15

On 6-7 October 2022, more than 400 national and international guests from the field of rural development gathered at the 2nd EU-Moldova LEADER Conference, which provided a platform for discussions and exchange of experience on the challenges of developing rural communities and identifying solutions for implementing changes at the local level.

On 6-7 October 2022, more than 400 national and international guests from the field of rural development gathered at the 2nd EU-Moldova LEADER Conference, which provided a platform for discussions and exchange of experience on the challenges of developing rural communities and identifying solutions for implementing changes at the local level. The conference was organized by Solidarity Fund PL in Moldova, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry of the Republic of Moldova and the National LEADER Network, with the support of the European Union, as part of the EU4Moldova: Local Communities Programme.

The event presented to the national and European public the results of the LEADER approach in Moldova and strengthened the relations between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union for the development of communities and promotion of LEADER as a public policy tool for rural development.

Natalia GAVRILIȚA, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova: “The synergies between government actions and programmes such as LEADER are extremely important because the effort to modernize the Republic of Moldova is one in which we want to involve the entire society. I am proud that the Republic of Moldova is the first country outside the European Union to implement this programme from its own budget sources. This year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry has approved funding for 37 Local Action Groups and allocated 17.4 million lei. This money will be used to set up and develop businesses and create new jobs, purchase modern equipment and machinery, renovate premises and buildings of economic, social, historical and cultural importance, modernize local public services, maintain and develop the local cultural and natural heritage and develop rural tourism.”

As of 2016, the LEADER approach in Moldova is supported by several development partners, including the European Union, Polish Aid, USAID and EU Member States such as Romania, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

Lawrence MEREDITH, Director for the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood and Institution Building, DG NEAR, European Commission: “One of the core priorities of the European Union is to work with local communities to deliver tangible benefits to the population. With 30 years of experience in the EU, the LEADER approach is recognized as an important tool for mobilizing and empowering the community for sustainable rural development. We believe that the institutionalization of the LEADER approach in Moldova is a key milestone on the country’s European path.”

Through Solidarity Fund PL in Moldova, the National LEADER Network together with 48 Local Action Groups (LAGs) have developed local community projects that have revitalized rural regions and stimulated the development of a legal framework, which has boosted the evolution of the LEADER approach to a national programme, implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry. This premise positions the Republic of Moldova as the first and only country outside the European Union to implement the LEADER approach as a public policy tool for rural development.

The event brought together representatives of institutions and organizations from Moldova and the EU interested in sharing the LEADER experience, including the European Commission, central authorities of the Republic of Moldova, European LEADER networks, as well as representatives of LAGs from Moldova and Europe. During a panel discussion with key national and European representatives in the field of rural development, the guests of the event got acquainted with the current situation and future vision of the LEADER approach in Moldova.

Tomasz HORBOWSKI, Country Director, Solidarity Fund PL in Moldova: “The LEADER approach is a living instrument that is constantly changing. Within a LAG, the partnership evolves not only in time, but also in the way it operates and generates changes at local level. Thus, in order to support the sustainable development of this mechanism and align it with new trends in rural development, LAGs and national authorities need to work together. I think this event has provided a useful platform to share experiences and pick up some new ideas from European partners.”

During the event, the guests participated in topical workshops moderated by Moldovan LAGs and their partners, addressing topics related to innovation, rural tourism, youth involvement in rural areas, civil protection, social entrepreneurship as a way to boost the local economy, education and training, etc. Thus, the participants discussed rural development issues and identified solutions to improve processes and implement changes at local level.

At the same time, the event provided a space for interaction and exchange of experience with partners from abroad, including Romania, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Estonia, Poland, North Macedonia, Latvia, etc., who moderated workshops on topics related to the establishment of the EaP – EU LEADER platform and cooperation of LAGs, digitization, Smart Village and monetization of cultural products, Family Farm and rural development, creation of an eco-museum, etc.

Marina ALBU, President of the National LEADER Network: “Today, development through the implementation of methods such as LEADER is becoming more and more relevant because, in addition to producing the effects of social and economic development, it strengthens the local community, which unites around development ideas and cooperates to achieve them. It is important to cherish, preserve and develop our rural areas, because Moldovan villages are the basis of our society, they are an essential part of our identity and our economic potential.”

During the conference, representatives of 48 LAGs from Moldova showcased their products at an open-air fair, which promoted the importance of supporting the sale of local products, as well as traditions and rural tourism.

On the 2nd day of the Conference, the foreign guests participated in study visits organized by the Movila Măgura, Lunca Bâcului and Coline Tigheciuliui LAGs, during which the European partners got acquainted with the activity of the LAGs in the Republic of Moldova and the community development projects implemented at local level.

About the LEADER approach: For more than six years, the LEADER approach has been contributing to sustainable improvement of living conditions and inclusive economic growth in rural areas of the Republic of Moldova. The implementation of the LEADER approach started in 2016, when the first 8 Local Action Groups (LAGs) were created. Today, their number has grown to 48 LAGs, covering 745 rural localities or more than 50% of the country’s rural areas. To date, LAGs have implemented more than 850 local projects across the country, and another 250 local projects are under development.

This event was organized with the support of the EU4Moldova: Local Communities Programme, funded by the European Union, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland – Polish Aid, and implemented by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and Solidarity Fund PL (SFPL) in Moldova.

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