The founding agreement of the first LEADER Local Action Group in China was signed on Thursday, 12th December in Xingguo, South China, from where the Chinese revolution also started some 90 years ago.
– It has been quite a journey to reach this point, says Vice-President of ELARD: Marion Eckardt, from Halland, Sweden, about the first rural development exchange between Europe and China. – And actually the work is now just beginning, she continues.
European LEADER bottom-up development experts have been actively disseminating their participatory methods outside the EU over the past decade. Especially strongly centralised, top-down regime countries and their people may learn a lot from the LEADER approach. The European LEADER roof organisation ELARD has earlier been exporting the methodology in the Balkan and Kaukasus countries as well as in Africa and Latin America. In China the work began in 2017.
The Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a rural revitalisation programme in China, the objective of which is to bring new innovation to countryside and reduce poverty and development gaps between urban and rural areas. China has had to limit people’s migration to cities due to unsustainable urban growth causing a variety of problems from air pollution to food security.
The cooperation with ELARD is the first cooperation ever on rural revitalization between China and for them foreign countries.
The launch of LEADER method in China is coordinated by the Ministry of Science and Technology. After the pilot experience in Xingguo, it plans to start 199 new LEADER groups all over China in the coming years, assisted by the Shanghai Prospect Institute. This opens a new transnational cooperation opportunity for the European LEADER Local Action Groups already in the coming programming period 2021-27. The Chinese have shown their interest to cooperate for example on the fields of rural tourism, environmental technology and sustainable development as well as youth participation and future in the rural areas.