LEADER NSK provides funding for implementing small-scale projects to support circular economy in rural areas.
LEADER NSK is a unique instrument that provides funding for small-scale projects in the Nitra Self-Governing Region (NSGR), in Slovakia. It is based on the principles of the generally-known EU initiative LEADER (Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de le Économie Rurale), but it does not use any EU funding; it is funded entirely from the own budget of the NSGR.
In 2017, thanks to the BIOREGIO project, new sub-activities related to circular economy were introduced into the LEADER NSK, e.g. design of bio-waste energy strategies or support of bio-waste processing technologies.
NSGR acts as a subsidy provider. Final beneficiaries are the Local Action Groups (LAGs). Final users are applicants and project promoters, e.g. municipalities; municipality associations; civic associations; foundations; non-profit organizations, interest associations of legal entities and business entities – natural or legal persons registered in the territory of LAG.
Final users are presenting their needs in project proposals to the LAG management, which then prepare the documents for the application to the NSGR. The subsidies are provided to LAGs in order to implement their Local Development Strategies through the financing of investment and non-investment projects by final users in LAGs. Through this instrument, NSGR creates the conditions and supports integrated rural development, circular economy and environmental activities (waste recycling, composting, raising environmental awareness, etc).
For the year 2017, amount of EUR 550,000 was allocated for LEADER NSK of which EUR 13,000 was used for implementation of the environmentally focused projects. Projects must be finished within one year and the calls for project proposals are announced annually. LEADER NSK is operated by 4 employees.
Evidence of success
LEADER NSK is as an innovative and successful instrument reflecting local needs through the "bottom-up" principle. Since the extension of LEADER NSK with environmental activities and the circular economy, the demand and the number of implemented projects increased. In 2016, a request was submitted for 2 projects from 1 LAG and in 2017 already 6 projects in 5 LAGs has been supported. Projects have achieved more efficient separated waste collection and higher environmental awareness of citizens.
In the beginnings, some LAG managers had lack of motivation to prepare such types of projects.
Potential for learning or transfer
The Nitra Self-governing Region is currently the only region in Slovakia that financially supports the implementation of CLLD Strategies for LAGs in the form of grants from the programme such as LEADER NSK. This kind of programme can be implemented also in other self-governing regions. Nowadays, we can see the efforts of other self-governing regions to introduce similar support to improve the quality of life in the rural areas.
Recently, NSGR joined the project called "Networking of local development actors and system support of the local economy and regional brands" as the main partner of the applicant of the National Network of Slovak Local Action Groups. The aim of the project funded by the Government Office in 2018 will be mainly to disseminate examples of good practices of the NSGR in the area of tools and system support of local and regional development actors and tools to support selected local development activities.
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