All workshops

Below is an overview of all the workshops that were available on the Friday of the European Rural Parliament.

Most workshops are linked to more than one ‘category’, the categories are:
Creating future proof communities [creating]
Welcoming new people into the community [welcoming]
Making decisions together [making]
Caring together and including others [caring]
Optimizing community infrastructure and services [optimizing]
Developing the community’s economic base [developing]

Per workshop is indicated to wich categories it is linked.
Click on the category below the the description of the workshop to find out more…

Introductory text for the ERP Thematic Workshops (workshops 1-16)
The ERP Thematic Workshops continue the work of the extensive survey of the ERP National Partners, reported in “All Europe shall live” and forming the basis of the European Rural Manifesto and ERP Action Programme. The results from the 2017 workshop discussions will review progress by thematic working groups and partners to date, and take this work forward into the coming period and ERP action planning.

Each of these workshops will aim to make proposals about:

  • What we can do for ourselves
  • What support is needed from the European institutions
  • The role of ERP in supporting this work
  • Messages to the European Rural Manifesto and the Venhorst Declaration.


If available some pictures and/or additional documents are added to the workshop-descriptions below:

All workshops:

1. Tackling poverty and exclusion in rural areas
A high proportion of rural inhabitants face poverty or social exclusion, especially in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and in remote rural areas with limited access to infrastructure and services. However, in many rural areas these challenges are successfully addressed, for instance through Local Action Groups and the development of social enterprise. The workshop will focus on identifying key causes of rural poverty and social exclusions (such as decline of small-scale farming, depopulation and loss of local services, specific problems of youth, elderly, minorities and migrants etc.) and on ways to reduce their impact on rural populations. The discussion will help develop recommendations for practical solutions adapted to the local context, based on the exchange of experience and existing good practices. The starting point for the discussion will be a short presentation of the outcomes of the ERP debate on poverty and social exclusion, coordinated by the Polish Rural Forum on behalf of PREPARE.
Urszula Budzich-Tabor, Polish Rural Forum
Andrzej Hałasiewicz
Catergory: [caring]

2. Welcoming and integrating refugees and economic migrants within rural communities
Welcome to an interactive workshop where we share our ideas and experiences on how we best can welcome new members of our rural areas. We will use a well-structured method that makes sure that the whole group gets to speak and participate. In this workshop we will develop ideas on how we can better support volunteers who are involved in welcoming refugees and migrants, as well as discuss how we can work with advocacy on different levels.  The workshop is hosted by the thematic project Welcoming migrants and refugees to rural Europe.
Josefin Heed, Hela Sverige skal leva
Category: [welcoming]


3. Provision for youth in rural areas, and the future of the European Rural Youth Parliament
Youth workshop – session 1
Young people are moving from rural areas. Young people need a foreseeable future and see their home-community as a place to live, educate oneself, work and build family. What should we as rural developers, ERP-network and policy-makers do to reverse the situation? Can we learn from success stories?
Facilitators:        Leaders of the ERP Thematic Project on Youth
Kim Smedslund, PREPARE and SYTY Finland and Anita Selicka, Latvian Rural Forum

Youth workshop – session 2
European Rural Youth Parliament
The first European Rural Youth Parliament (ERYP) was held in Latvia 11.8.2017. Youth´s voice should be heard and listened to. Come and discuss on how youth´s voice would be better heard and how to organise the process of collecting, activating and disseminating this voice around Europe.
Facilitators:        Leaders of the ERP Thematic Project on Youth
Kim Smedslund, PREPARE and SYTY Finland and Anita Selicka, Latvian Rural Forum
Category: [creating] 


4. Sustaining rural services and infrastructure
The workshop will discuss this theme’s project Report and, in particular, consider what actions are needed at local, national and European level to achieve the recommendations with the support of the European Rural Parliament.  Insights into actions that have led to change will be examined through the presentation of case study material. It is intended that the workshop will provide an initial brief plan highlighting the vision and messages as well as identifying those organisations and individuals willing to take the work forward.
Deborah Clarke, ACRE
Jessica Morgan, PLANED
Category: [optimizing]


5. Strengthening local and sub regional economies
Globalisation is fundamentally changing social relations and the role of the individual in society. This has many negative effects in local, especially rural, communities. In opposition to this, localisation stresses local needs and prioritises the specific interests of different target groups. This presents a serious alternative to the accumulation of goods and capital, and towards (sustainable) development and a more even distribution of available goods. Sustainable development is becoming a necessity due to the limited capacities of our planet and the negative effects of ever growing inequality. Local communities are naturally predisposed to “common good economics” (eg. solidarity economy, the commons, economic democracy, subsidiarity). What these share is the principle of participation, as a value, adapted to the emerging needs of local communities disadvantaged by globalisation. Prominent forms of local economies are local currencies, eco-villages, participatory budgets, independent cooperatives, energy-self-sufficient communities, housing communities, community supported agriculture, etc. In addition, stronger LEADER/CLLD is building a good foundation for sustainable development. This workshop will examine experience and good practice in different countries, and make recommendations for local action and policy.
Goran Soster – PREPARE Partnership for Rural Europe and leader of the ERP Thematic Group on Local and Sub-Regional Economies
Category: [developing] 


6. Integrated rural development, and the role of LEADER and Community Led Local Development (CLLD)
Integrated rural development is seen as the best possibility to build linkages and synergies between various stakeholders and themes in local development. Innovation is considered to start from the meeting point of different sectors where a mixture of people and their knowledge give birth to something new. In rural areas cooperative activities are often the only way to tackle challenges in communities and local businesses. The LEADER/CLLD multi-funding approach creates new possibilities to work across sectors and borders and find good solutions through integrated local development.
The European LEADER Association for Rural Development (ELARD) invites ERP participants to join our workshop “Integrated rural development and LEADER/CLLD” to share good practice and discuss about advantages and obstacles in integrated local development and implementation of CLLD multi-fund approach. Good practice example will be introduced.
ELARD hosted Workshop
Kristiina Tammets – Leader of the ERP Thematic Group on Integrated rural development and the role of LEADER and Community Led Local Development
Kirsten Birke Lund
Category: [making] 


7. The well-being of small and family farms

The small farms play an essential role in terms of agriculture, environmental protection and maintaining the vitality of rural areas, especially in the less accessible border areas and the mountains. With their traditions in agriculture, small farms produce and store local varieties characteristic of the area in which they are located. The used practices of small farms to produce several crops and different animal species, the lack of mechanical treatment, and their focus on organic farming have their influence on environmental protection, bio-diversity and the landscape of rural areas. Small farms provide diversity and support social life and the economy in rural areas. It is important to note that they provide employment in these areas and play the role of a social buffer in an economic crisis. The incomes, investment and development opportunities are severely limited by small farms, lack of access to the policy instruments receiving subsidies, lack of access to the markets and the food chain, poor infrastructure has led to a significant reduction in their number in recent years, but they still dominate over all other farms. This workshop will explore the ways in which small and family farms can be supported and gain political support in the future, and explore case studies of good practice in different countries.
Bojura Fidanska – National Union of Small Family Farms and Producers, Bulgaria
Boban Ilic – Secretary General, SWG South East European Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group
Categories: [caring] [optimizing] [developing] 

8. The crucial role of small towns, and rural-urban cooperation
Throughout Europe, policies have focused on cities, conurbations and larger urban networks. Smaller towns and related hinterland face complex pressures including declining populations and services and a lack of affordable housing. But small towns and their hinterlands have advantages and opportunities that make them sustainable and resilient. No major European programme has focused on small towns, yet more than 77 million people across Europe live in small towns. This evidence should be a lever to persuade the European Union to develop policies for these, and for small towns to be encouraged to work together to press for action. Workshop participants will be encouraged to consider: good examples, policy context, need for capacity building and support.
Phil Turner, Hon Member and Past President of ECOVAST European Council for the Village and Small Town
Tihana Fabijanic ECOVAST
Categories: [creating] [developing] 

9. Climate change and its implications for rural areas
Climate change may be one of the most important impacts on rural areas across Europe into the future. It is manifested in different ways in different parts of Europe, and measures to reduce or adapt to the impacts of climate change need to be developed, as relevant to the region. This workshop will provide information on the varying regional impacts, current knowledge and work to address this, and share and explore examples from our own areas and experience, as to how rural communities can plan for and work to alleviate the impacts.
Silke Stoeber, University of Berlin and Bert Broekhuis
With contribution of Ir. Ernest de Groot, executive board member of the “Regional Water Authority Aa and Maas”
Categories: [optimizing] [developing] 

Documents: Poster_ERP2017_22102017

10. Rural development, and civil society action, in the western Balkans
The aim of the workshop will be to share experiences and discuss how to animate local communities and ensure development of rural areas in the Western Balkans. Furthermore the importance of capacity building for acquiring necessary knowledge for managing LEADER activities will be part of the discussion. The role of networking and the existing civil society networks as providers of  assistance in creating such capacity providing information about LEADER and acting as hubs for raising interest of local actors in the preparation of a local development strategy and associated projects, will be also elaborated.
Petar Gjorgievski, Rural Development Network of Macedonia
Dragan Roganovic, Network for Rural Development of Serbia
Categories: [making] 

11. Rural development, and civil society action, in the Black Sea area
Rural communities and economies in the Black Sea area are deeply affected by the political instability in the region. The process of accession to the EU can be decisively important for political reform and for raising the priority of rural development by national governments. This workshop will discuss possibilities and opportunities for influencing the decision making process effectively.
Categories: [making]


12. Promotion and support for National Rural Parliaments
National Rural Parliaments began in Sweden in 1989 and have since been established in 11 countries, with more being developed all the time. The European Rural Parliament is a manifestation of this model at a pan-European level, involving 40 countries. Rural Parliaments are a process of dialogue and action which take place on a 2-yearly cycle. In each country they are organised within the context of a national non-governmental rural movement. The expansion of Rural Parliaments as important players in the process of rural development, is now recognised by national governments and the EU. How do they work? How can they achieve their objectives? How can they learn from and work together with each other? These are some of the questions to be addressed in this workshop. The workshop is an opportunity for those organising and interested in Rural Parliament to share their experiences and look at how to develop their position as strong voices for rural people.
Vanessa Halhead, European Rural Community Alliance, Scottish Rural Parliament and ERP
Goran Soster, PREPARE Partnership for Rural Europe, Slovenian Rural Parliament and ERP
Categories: [making]


13. Leadership in rural development
The role of leadership in rural development is very important at and between all levels. It involves collective action from local, regional, national and European levels and requires commitment, communication, cooperation and trust. Building the capacity for leadership requires all levels to work in partnership to foster an environment which encourages innovative, sustainable and accountable leadership, inspiring and engaging future leaders.  This workshop will look at the types and role of leadership in rural development, share experiences about the role of different types of leadership, and identify the ways, methods and supports required to foster leadership.
Ibrahim Tugrul, Rural Development Foundation, Turkey
Prof. Michael Dower
Categories: [making]


14. The role of civil society networks in rural areas
The civil society plays an important role in rural areas throughout Europe. The extent varies and so does the way these NGOs are organized, recognized and supported. This workshop will discuss civil society networking to learn from each other, gain power and influence policies on national and European levels. The focus should be on local communities and village action groups, their networking and supporting structures. The outcome will make proposals about what civil society actors themselves can do to support local action and to make impact on policies.
Anneli Kana, KODUKANT, Estonia
Staffan Bond, Hela Sverige skal leva
Categories: [making] [caring]

15. Partnership between civil society and governments in rural development

The workshop presents the Finnish Rural Policy Committee model as an example of a mutually fruitful partnership between civil society and government in rural development and policy making. This national level, inter-sectoral Committee is set by the government and led by the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. The OECD Rural Policy Review on Finland has identified the Committee as one of the best practices in Finnish rural development and policy making. The presentation leads the participants to share their experiences and discuss the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of partnerships between civil society and governments in rural development.
Facilitator:  Petri Rinne, SYTY – The Village Action Association of Finland
Category: [optimizing]


16. Education in rural areas
What and How to Learn Across the Rural Europe Facing Coming Changes!
According to a study by HSSL in Sweden, and experience from other European rural areas, the main goal for rural people is to change their situation by developing their personal skills and their permanent improvement, democracy values, entrepreneurship, environment protection, etc. Life Long Learning should be a continuous red string of education running from basic schools to the senior age of each individual. The role of leaders, organisers and co-ordinators is to motivate groups of people and communities and to offer methods and ways to learn. The task for public administration is to provide the basic infrastructure to support this, broad band connection etc. This workshop will share experience on challenges and best practice in enabling education across rural areas and throughout people’s lives.
Jan Fiala from the Czech National Network of Rural Schools
Categories: [caring]  [optimizing]


Workshops organised by the Dutch team:

17. Unleash the real power of your local community
Every local community is a potential breeding ground for powerful grassroots movements. But how do you plant the seed to unleash this power? This practical workshop gives you concrete takeaways on how to start a meaningful movement in your local community. It is based on our experience in Asten and Someren making a feature film and involving 500 local volunteers to do so.
Categories: [creating] [developing] 


18. How do Dutch rural municipalities (and inhabitants) face the economic challenges
A large part of the Netherlands is rural. The challenges faced by the municipalities located in rural areas differ from those faced by cities and the densely populated ‘Randstad’. In this workshop the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) explains the issues faced by municipalities in rural areas. What is the state of the rural economy? Are there questions about the quality of life? And what significant developments can our research institute discern?
Categories: [making] [caring] [optimizing] 


19. Building the energy democracy together
A REScoop, or Renewable Energy Sources Cooperative, is an initiative of citizens who invest in their own production, distribution and/or supply of renewable energy. This workshop will focus on the importance of such local energy cooperatives in rural area for delivering the energy transition that is needed and about some of the barriers they have to learn how to deal with. Network organization is one of eleven partners. Together they secured INTERREG subsidy for the ECCO project in support of the initiation and development of decentralised facilities for renewable energy by local communities. They want to expand the European network for pooling and transfer of knowledge and experience.
Are you ready to join the movement towards energy democracy (
Categories:  [caring] [optimizing] [developing]

20. The cooperative movement
The cooperative movement has a long tradition. The cooperative model offers interesting opportunities for local democracy and community development. We will learn about some examples and the expertise that has been collected over the years. We will discuss support structures that are available for starters.
Categories: [making] [caring] [optimizing]




21. Redeveloping cultural heritage bottom up
This workshop will take place in a church in Venhorst. It is still in use as a parish church. However, every year fewer people are attending mass. As the church is part of our cultural heritage, the community looks into possible scenarios for future use. We will introduce you to our bottom up approach giving such buildings a new function for the local community. We would also like to compare different approaches used throughout Europe for redeveloping cultural heritage. How do you take care of cultural heritage buildings that lost their original purposes?
Categories: [creating] [making]

22. Innovations for an age-friendly environment
In this workshop we want to look at innovations that allow people to stay living comfortable in their own home when they getting older. We take a closer look at these issues from the perspective of the purpose economy (introduced by keynote speaker Kees Klomp).
Together we will discover and discuss how social entrepreneurs can contribute to healthy and active aging, based on practical experiences in different parts of Europe (see also INTERREG project Ithaca: InnovaTion in Health And Care for All ttps://
Categories: [creating] [making] [optimizing] [developing]


23. Paludiculture, where agriculture meets nature
Paludiculture (“palus“ – Latin for “mire, morass”) is the wet cultivation of marshland. On the one hand it includes traditional processes of peat-land cultivation (e.g. reed mowing, litter usage), on the other hand new processes, for example the energetic utilization of biomass of the marshes, are used. In this workshop we take a look at the benefits that Paludiculture may have for farmers and rural communities in different parts of Europe in view of the growing concern of climate changes.
Categories: [creating]  [optimizing] [developing]


24. Nature inclusive agriculture
Farming and biodiversity have grown apart even though they are closely related in principle. It also seems to become more and more difficult to reconcile highly productive and efficient agriculture with people, especially young people, and other societal values. Modern agricultural production processes have no room for nature conservation and the preservation of attractive landscapes that people can identify with and that are capable of providing the necessary ecosystem services. It is thus a challenge to bring nature-inclusive farming into practice. But not impossible. In this workshop we will discuss some examples and promising strategies for promoting nature inclusive agriculture and for engaging young people and their entrepreneurial skills in doing so.
Categories: [creating] [developing]


25. Participatory development in the Leegveld area
Nature restoration in the Peel area near Venhorst requires a number of measures to be taken in the near future. The development process will, for instance, entail raising the water table in order to restore the possibility for the mossy vegetation – sphagnum – to grow into peat-land. Additionally, some agricultural plots will get a new function as nature area. This could have adverse effects for the residents and farmers but it also offers new opportunities for agriculture, recreation and culture history. This workshop will focus on the question of how local communities can benefit from this development and how potential threats can be perceived as opportunities. How can we work towards a stronger engagement of the local community with the development process?
Categories: [creating] [making] [caring] [developing]

26. We Are Food!
The European Regions of Gastronomy ( aim to contribute to a better quality of life in European regions, by highlighting distinctive food cultures, educating for better health and sustainability and stimulating gastronomic innovation. In 2018 Noord-Brabant will be presented as one of these European Regions of Gastronomy. The topic of ‘downsizing food waste’ will be high on the agenda for our region. In this workshop we learn more about food that never reaches our mouth: roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted worldwide ( The Food Waste Factory in Veghel – de Verspillingsfabriek – Is an inspiring experiment with an alternative approach. The Factory produces high quality food for human consumption with leftover-ingredients from other food production processes. At the same time it also creates meaningful work for a considerable group of people with a distance to the labour market. Two questions we would like to address: Do you see possibilities for preventing food waste in your own region? And: How would you achieve the necessary change of consumer behaviour? (See also INTERREG project Food Heroes
Catgories: [caring] [optimizing] [developing]


The information for this website has been carefully gathered. However, moderators are still working to prepare for their workshop and may decide for adjustments.





Themes for the ERP 2017

Visiting countries