Capacity Building for CLLD

As the attention turns from the theory of the EU regulations to the realities on the ground, LDnet launches a new initiative to contribute to capacity building for CLLD

The deadline for the formal submission of Partnership Agreements of 22 April 2014 has now passed and the first PA (Denmark) has already been agreed. In theory the debate on CLLD is shifting from EU and MS intentions to more practical considerations, although many commentators have pointed out that most PAs are too vague on CLLD and that a clear picture won’t emerge until the OPs are approved by the beginning of 2015.

Still, there is no doubt that ensuring the right capacities for turning the CLLD provisions of the EU regulations into reality represents a huge challenge in the 2014-2020 period ... and by the time the OPs will have been approved, the first year of this period will have gone.

The starting point will be marked by considerable diversity in local experiences. Some areas have already received substantial “investment” in capacity building and have developed good capacities for CLLD. But some of that could now be in doubt as in the case of the current reforms in Ireland, which push for the near-absorption of the area partnerships by local authorities, threatening the existence of what used to be an exemplary CLLD model and risking the loss of CLLD capacities in both rural and urban areas that have been created over many years.

Many areas will be newcomers to CLLD and will be confronted with a whole host of demands. On the one hand there are formal EU and MS requirements of a managerial and reporting nature. On the other hand, there is a lot to be learned and be done, as shown in the 100 or so pages of advice in the forthcoming (and considerably delayed – see news item) EU Guidance on CLLD for local actors, ranging from “how to launch a CLLD strategy” to “how to coordinate with other funds and improve results”.

Capacity building is often perceived in narrow terms, associated with different aspects of programme management and the developing and managing projects. Support tends to be offered mainly to LAG teams through training, technical assistance, “toolkits”, etc, focusing on technical/managerial issues. But local development is a broader process and its political dimension cannot be ignored. This is something already recognised in the capacity building efforts of URBACT which include training for elected representatives. LINK(external link) (cache)

The key local challenges are of course centred on topics like running an inclusive local partnership, developing and sustaining a strategic direction, animation, mediation and promotion of social innovation, and experimentation and transfer of practices. Local actors need the resources and the skills to be able to tackle these issues, and this doesn’t come about through a one-off process of capacity building; training, support to facilitate embedding, mentoring, etc are particularly important. Capacities for experimentation and social innovation are particularly challenging issues.

Moreover, capacity building needs an even bigger picture as CLLD does not depend only on the local level to succeed. Capacity building has also to address multi-level governance issues, including the capacities that managing authorities, and how the local level can link up with other levels of policies and programmes. Indeed, the role of capacity building should be seen as a longer term developmental process.

The importance of capacity for local development is well understood in Brussels at both EU level and by European associations and networks like ELARD(external link) (cache) and AEIDL. New efforts are already starting and LDnet would like to contribute in several ways:
• We are seeking to identify examples of capacity building for CLLD in different contexts (urban/rural, early/advanced stage) that can be used in defining models for capacity building.
• We are organising a major debate on "Capacity building: what for?" on 7 October 2014 in Brussels, in the framework of Open Days 2014.
• We are proposing to work with other associations and networks to develop and offer a “product” for use by local practitioners that will cover the framework for capacity building as a developmental process, resources available and database of practical examples.

We hope that LDnet can play a small but important role in the broader efforts, bringing out new ideas and fresh approaches, and a less conventional and often critical view on capacity building that isn’t constrained by “official” perspectives of the EU and Member States.

Created by Haris Martinos1165 points . Last Modification: Monday 12 of May, 2014 10:44:53 BST by Haris Martinos1165 points . (Version 4)