Project update “Sustainable Future for Rural Areas in Croatia”
Project partners: Milieukontakt International, ODRAZ, PINS, HMRR, SMART, CCO, PREPARE
Gorski kotar Local Action Group presented to the public
Due to the specific features of the area of Gorski kotar that is not well-linked and weakly populated, it was not easy to find 26 persons gifted with creativity and ambition, sharing a common vision and willing to collaborate in the process of development of their sub-region. The good reputation of PINS – Business Incubator Ltd. from Skrad, that for years has worked for the benefit of Gorski kotar, greatly contributed to overcome the local mentality of precaution and suspicion – «vast promises of better future».
Gorski kotar Local Action Group (LAG) was formed during a weekend-workshop in Begovo razdolje in mid April 2008. All parts of the Gorski kotar have been represented, as well as different society groups and different activities that are typical for the area. All LAG members want that Gorski kotar becomes an integral area that may unify interests of all 9 units of local self-government. They wish to reach common understanding and ability to represent their area in a unique way outside its borders, to prosper on knowledge, abilities and traditional skills in accordance with sustainable development. principles and precious natural conditions.
On 21 May 2008, in the Cultural Centre Skrad, LAG members were introduced to public. Presentations of Goran customs like traditional wedding and art of gathering leaves followed by Skrad Elementary school youngest pupils playing accordions, created a good atmosphere. The opening session was held by the PINS director Stela Mulc. Dubravko Grbac, Skrad mayor, greeted the participants in the role of host, underlining necessity of maintaining youth in this area. After the opening session, local coordinator Nataša Kovačić
held the presentation „Sustainable Future for Rural Areas in Croatia – pilot-area Gorski kotar“. Ms. Kovačić demonstrated project activities on local level that have been implemented and informed on those that will follow. The HMRR coordinator, Višnja Jelić Mück, presented the national frame for project implementation including the publishing of HMRR Info Bulletin.
Members of LAG were individually presented to the auditorium by stating the factors that had motivated them to become LAG members. The LAG members are capable and willing to start activities in local community and to improve the quality of life in rural areas.
They understand local population and have respect for human qualities.
They are not discriminative, they have high sense of responsibility and are ready to cooperate and share information. LAG members are individuals ready to speak up and to find time for working together. The elected LAG representative Petar Mamula briefly described the importance of the project for Gorans.
Representatives of numerous institutions and organizations attending event agreed on the importance and value of such initiative not only for the region of Gorski kotar, but also on the national level, as a pilot-project to be implemented in other parts of Croatia. The banquet that followed offered opportunity for further exchange of views between LAG members and partner organizations, hosts and guests, providing a basis for further cooperation. Future work and functioning of LAG was the main topic. Traditional dishes and products of the area contributed to good understanding and positive experience of participants.
During Autumn period the Local Action Group members have worked hard on the Local Action Plan that sets out the directions for the sustainable development of Gorski kotar. They also received training and guidance from experienced people and organisations, and thus could raise their own capacities and skills. In December they could launch their own web-site to the public and to all mayors of the 9 municipalities in Gorski kotar. During this event all mayors signed the cooperation agreement with the Local Action Group, and expressing their commitment for the LAG to succeed. The web-site is now at: www.lag-gorskikotar.info. The LAG is currently (February 2009) in the stage of registration as a legal entity, after which they are able to enter into contracts with for instance grant making organisations and funders.
Nataša Kovačić (PINS) and Paul Kosterink (Milieukontakt International)
(1) presentation of LAG to the public
(2) mayors sign the cooperation agreement with LAG (December 2008)
(3) Logo of the Local Action Group (LAG) Gorski kotar