The Rural Policy Council and its networks gather actors from different sectors and levels from governmental level to civil society to develop rural areas.
Problem addressed: Sparsely populated areas cover 68 % of Finland, but less than 6 % of the population lives in them. The dramatically low population density does not allow to valorise the resources of those areas, for example, the raw materials for the bio-based economy which are located there. To understand the problems, potential, and optimise solutions for such areas, the Rural Policy Council has been set up by the Goverment of Finland; short name is MANE.
How objectives are reached: MANE is part of the implementation of the national Rural Policy Programme for 2014-2020. It is a policy -recommendation body designated and funded by the government of Finland, which also defines its tasks, members and terms of office. It functions as the bridge between rural and state levels. MANNE tasks include: supporting decision-makers in cross-administrative and strategically important rural policy issues and preparing and implementing Government's Rural Policy Agenda 2014-2020, including follow up & impact studies; thematic networks (5 networks: sparsely populated areas (Kainuu coordinates), vibrant operating environment; citizenship and well-being; knowledge knowledge and employment; Swedish-speaking areas); strengthening rural research and know-how; participating in the coordination of national and EU rural and regional policies EU & OECD representation).
Main stakeholders: Public, private and third sector actors from local to national level related to the rural policy.
Two employees working for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (appr. 120 000€ /annum). The networks experts come mainly from the public & civil sector organisations and work on voluntary basis. The Council has a yearly budget of 1,5M€ for studies & R&D projects.
Evidence of success
The Rural Policy Council has ensured that the citizens have a direct connection to the Ministry and Minister, an approach especially important to citizens in sparsely populated / rural areas. The council and the networks have provided a number of research papers and studies for the evidence-based policy recommendations that have also been submitted.
Resources for the rural policy and funding for the R&D projects have been cut down which has decreased concrete action and thus effectiveness and impact. Furthermore, cooperation between the Council and the networks should be strengthened.
Potential for learning or transfer
The good practice demonstrates especially two aspects of transferability: 1) it shows that cooperation between all sectors and levels is a necessity in the sparsely populated rural areas in order to succeed; 2), the Smart Specialisation Strategy of Kainuu (RIS3) is aligned with the Rural Policy Programme and the Strategy for Sparsely Populated Rural Areas. On one hand, choices of the Kainuu RIS3 include innovations related to mining and bioeconomy, including forest, food and blue bioeconomy and on the other hand, both programmes underline the significance of the bioeconomy for the rural areas. The alignment of different strategies brings synergies and greater impact, which in turn enables a better development of the region.
Contact person: Christell Åström, Secretary General, Rural Policy Council, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Tel. +358 (0)29 516 2030
Email: [email protected]