A short report on LDnet’s workshop at EWRC 2016 (12 October 2016, Brussels)
LDnet’s workshop on ‘Achieving social inclusion in CLLD in the context of the results orientation of the ESI Funds’ focused on challenges of a results-oriented approach combined with the pursuit of social inclusion, especially in the context of Community-Led Local Development (CLLD).
The new orientation on results of the ESI Funds can help to focus on reaching objectives rather than disbursement rate and procedures, and to develop a culture of responsibility across the delivery chain. However, this results-orientation can have the effect of narrowing down the intervention and imposing additional conditions or bureaucratic barriers. In the context of CLLD, where the main added value of reaching the hard-to-reach groups and getting them involved is not easy to capture, there may be a temptation to focus on easier target groups to obtain the expected “measurable results”, e.g. jobs created. With the rise of populations at risk, including migrants and refugees, local development actors may need to introduce flexible systems of adjusting their strategies to the changing situation.
The workshop presented and debated experiences in local development from different EU contexts. Eileen Humphreys from Ireland presented the experience of the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme, which achieved good results in terms of reaching the disadvantaged groups, but involved a lot of top-down influence and a tight administrative system. Tasos Perimenis from Greece demonstrated how local development approach can help the community not only to successfully integrate sources of funding, but also deal with extreme situations such as the influx of refugees in the Greek island of Lesbos.
Sohrab Fadai from Sweden showed how local communities can deal with the integration of migrants through spontaneous actions initiated by individual persons or businesses, effectively supported by the National Rural Network. Ryszard Kaminski from Poland stressed the need for autonomy of the local community to address local challenges; this could be particularly difficult with CLLD financed from several Funds, including those with little experience in the approach, e.g. ESF.
The discussion also showed the difficulty of measuring “soft” results such as stronger community ties or adaptation to change; the importance of local grass-root animation; and the need to better coordinate and ensure mutual learning between different CLLD funds.