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(27 January 2017) - The LEADER rural development programme is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Yves Champetier has been one of the leading experts on LEADER throughout this time. In this article, Yves retraces the evolution of this initiative, which has revolutionised European rural development, and highlights the challenges that still need to be overcome in order to achieve "Community-Led Local Development (CLLD)".

Champetier
Yves Champetier

The distance travelled during these 25 years is impressive. From a 'Community Initiative' initially involving a relatively limited number of rural areas, we are now in the 5th stage of this EU local development policy, which has been extended to cover virtually all EU rural areas, almost all coastal areas and a certain number of urban areas and districts.

According to Yves Champetier, “we must do absolutely everything possible to make LEADER and CLLD a success. The year 2017 should be devoted operationalising and completing and effective establishment of all local groups, with a single message: unleash the creative potential of these groups!”

“We all know that the challenges facing us are immense. They are reflected in the strategies of the groups, but we must go further, and these strategies deserve to be constantly refined, especially in view of the challenges highlighted at the recent "Cork 2.0” conference: climate change, demographic challenges, integration issues, especially for young people and now also refugees, the digital revolution, the need to strengthen links between rural and urban areas through new economic models such as the circular economy or short distribution chains.”

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