The Vidzeme Region in Latvia has had an active period so far, as within the project, Vidzeme is implementing pilot activities and elaborating The Regional Development Programme for the period of 2021-2027. The process is carried out with strong participation of industry professionals, various level policy stakeholders, rural newcomers, representatives of research sector and local communities. A group of these stakeholders also forms a Regional panel that is set up for oversight and advisory purposes.
Four thematic focus groups with external stakeholders have already taken place between October and December 2020. The broad involvement of stakeholders has shown that the comments and indications they provide in the discussions are invaluable and important information that is not otherwise known. Focus groups were organized remotely and various online collaboration platforms were used to make stakeholder involvement as successful as possible.
“It is quite possible that some of participants in the discussions, especially representatives of the local community will realize for the first time that there is a real opportunity to influence decision-making processes and participate in the development of their territory they belong to. We are also very interested in the opinion of newcomers, who often have an objective view, and their observations are especially important and can encourage new ideas and initiatives,” says Ieva Kalniņa, Head of the Spatial Planning Department of Vidzeme Planning Region.
The main topics of discussions were the following:
- Spatial development of the territory, incl. accessibility;
- Sustainable business and innovation environment;
- Sustainable economy;
- Social security and health.
When discussing the selected topics that are important for the Vidzeme region, global tendencies and challenges are also taken into account, which both directly and indirectly affect the development of the region on the ground, as well as strengthen its competitiveness potential. For this purpose, PoliRural report with drivers of change for rural areas were discussed and summarized with stakeholders.
Drawing on the knowledge and experience of the PoliRural project, new, promising and yet untested methods for quality planning and development of rural policy will also be used within the next months.
The Development Programme for the next seven years is developed with the aim to promote the sustainable and balanced development of the Vidzeme Region and it focuses as much as possible on the needs of the region’s inhabitants and the development of the territory. It is planned that the development of the Programme will be completed in June 2021.