Evaluating a Rural Development Program in the EU

Landscapes everywhere usually have many different owners and uses. These are governed by a web of rules, norms and shared strategies that can get very messy very quickly! So how do we work together to keep our landscapes and our communities healthy, especially as the world changes rapidly around us? Since 1991, the European Union has funded a rural development program in certain areas called the LEADER program. Its main goal is to promote healthy rural landscapes and communities through social networks called Local Action Groups. With collaborators Gioacchino Pappalardo and Biagio Pecorino (Universita degli Studi di Catania, Sicily), we are evaluating the implementation of the LEADER program from an Adaptive Co-management perspective. Tools used include: social network analysis, mixed-methods research, and formative program evaluation.

In late March 2014, we submitted our first academic paper to the Journal of Rural Studies. This paper lays out a new evaluation framework for LEADER that involves paying attention to the timeline of implementation and the participation of all rural sectors in the LAGs.

Gioacchino presented our second paper at the 2014 International Symposium on Society and Resource Management in Hannover, Germany, where he will present some preliminary evaluation results with data he collected from two Sicilian LAGs.

Stay tuned for updates!

Rural Sicily, at the foot of Mount Etna