• Rural Development Programme for Bosnian Rural Development
    Rural Development Programme for Bosnian Rural Development
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    For anyone who has been responsible for the establishment of a Rural Development Programme knows, it is a major undertaking to get all the necessary components together, especially if it’s the first time for the team concerned.  After a year’s hard work with the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina, we are now nearly at that point.

    IMG_2770I think the mood at the final project meeting speaks for itself. It has been a genuine pleasure working with the Bosnian Federation Ministry of Agriculture to develop their Rural Development Programme. An investment framework that will enable the Federation to engage with communities and investors to create a better future for Bosnian farmers and rural citizens.

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  • New Catalys website
    New Catalys website
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    Website screen grab

    Welcome to the new Catalys website.

    It has seemed like an elephantine gestation period, but our new website at www.catalys.org is finally up and running. It looks great and has updated our teams, our projects and our image.

    Website screen grab

    We decided to do it in house and Alex has taken the lead, including our first infographic – the Catalys wheel, which highlights the importance of stakeholders in our work. More anon.

    So, please feel free to explore the new site, done on a wordpress blog format it is much simpler for all our team to contribute, making it more of a joint effort.

    Any comments, please let us know via the contact form, or email info@catalys.org

    Happy Browsing!

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  • How Matters – Our Mission
    How Matters – Our Mission
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    The Catalys Mission – How Matters

    “Building the capacity of organisations and people to grow resilient local economies and sustain environmental resources”

    The process of developing a new website and mission statement has been an interesting one for the Catalys team. Amidst our busy day-to-day work carrying out fieldwork, research and reporting, we have been thinking hard about what it is that sets us apart and drives us to strive for a better and more equitable approach to how we work.

    We aim to:

    • Engage everyone that matters
    • Bring clarity to your problems
    • Provide tools to move forward and to better meet your goals

    We believe that ‘how matters’ and that by navigating through the jargon, acronyms and ‘consultancy speak’ we can offer a clear, targeted approach that works with you and your organisation. We want the process to be useful and for the results to be useful; we don’t want to write dusty reports that sit on shelves or clog up your hard drive for ever more. We aim to provide clear, critical support to organisations that want to be more effective in meeting environmental, economic and social sustainability goals.

    As part of our thinking we have been working on a visual representation of how we work. We wanted something that helped to demystify the process of engagement and we hope that this diagram does this. Let us know what you think, we like feedback.

    The Catalys Process

     

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  • Diversity means business in outdoor tourism for North Wales & Ireland
    Diversity means business in outdoor tourism for North Wales & Ireland
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    Following the Equality Impact Assessment we undertook for the Ireland-Wales INTERREG Outdoor Tourism Project www.outdoortourism.org, Catalys was asked to design and deliver a suitable training course for outdoor providers and other interested businesses in order for them to become more inclusive and identify new and untapped target markets.  On 24thSeptember 2014, we ran an interactive one-day event at the Glasdir rural development centre in Llanrwst in Snowdonia. Participants included a specialist mountain biking B&B provider from Dolgellau, an activity park near Pwllheli, a surfing instructor from Anglesey and a beach activities business from Colwyn Bay.

    We took them through the basics of discrimination and legislation, identifying issues we’d identified during our earlier assessment work such as the image of sector (predominantly white, young, fit and male), how to move away from the stereotype, e.g. (encouraging older people and others), providing access to suitable equipment and qualified coaches, ensuring bilingualism in private sector businesses, and providing access for those on low income.  Participants were challenged to come up with a simple definition of equality, which would work for them, and asked each to identify a number of key tasks they could perform to improve matters when they got home.

    Businesses made practical suggestions they could take to be more inclusive in their business practices including

    • provision of suitable equality training for all freelance staff,
    • offering adaptive equipment,
    • reducing prices for older people and children,
    • developing courses specifically for women,
    • having other languages on their  websites,
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  • Green Council consulting NGOs in Bosnia on the case for a state level Agriculture Ministry
    Green Council consulting NGOs in Bosnia on the case for a state level Agriculture Ministry
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    This week sees an intensive series of consultations in Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding the case for an Agricultural ministry at the state level led by led by Sanela Klaric (president) and Selma Osmanagic Agovic of the Green Council (www.green-council.ba).
    The project is looking at the progress to date in comparison with other countries in the Western Balkan region and discussing whether the interests of rural communities and farmers would be better served with an agricultural ministry at the state level.

    Currently, the national agricultural responsibilities are carried out by the Agricultural and Rural Development Department of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations.  With many of the competences regarding Agriculture and Rural Development carried out at the “entity” level; the entities being the ethnically defined “Muslim/Croat Federation” and the “Republika Srpska”; established as part of the post war rapprochement.

    The consultation is debating whether more progress would be made with a stronger and more focused agricultural ministry at the state level; as, when compared to the progress made in neighbouring countries such as Croatia, relatively few forward steps are evident in Bosnia.  Ultimately, it is the farmers and rural citizens who are losing out, as the funds that are intended for them are not available in Bosnia; whilst those same funds have been available in Croatia since 2007; meaning that each farmer in Croatia has on average had access to nearly €2,500 per head that has not yet been made available in Bosnia.

    The first consultation was held in Buna, near Mostar, with the second day held at Foca, today 21st.  for news of the progress of the consultation, check out the following http://green-council.org/odrzan-prvi-konsultativni-sastanak-u-okviru-projekta-zasto-nam-je-potrebno-drzavno-ministarstvo-poljoprivrede-i-ruralnog-razvoja-u-bih/

    Catalys provided underpinning analysis – which is available from info@catalys.org on request; and will soon be available from our www.catalys.org/publications.

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  • Rural Childcare conference – Learning from the GwarchodNi rural childcare pilot project
    Rural Childcare conference – Learning from the GwarchodNi rural childcare pilot project
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    Wednesday 23rd April 2014 – Y Plas, Machynlleth.

    Catalys is facilitating a conference on the theme of learning from rural childcare pilot projects. The conference will draw on a range of experiences of rural childcare from across Wales and beyond, in particular those of GwarchodNi “Innovative solutions to childcare in rural areas.”The target audience for the conference will be GwarchodNi project beneficiaries and partners, policy makers in childcare services and those working in the childcare sector.

    GwarchodNi is a Rural Development Plan Cooperation project being delivered in the Local Action Group areas of Ceredigion, Powys and Gwynedd. The project is led by Ceredigion County Council. The project was established to pilot new forms of childcare in order to respond to needs in rural areas. This event will draw on learning to date from the pilot alongside wider experience, providing an opportunity to discuss what works, what is needed, and draw conclusions regarding future direction.

    GwarchodNi has received funding through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

    For further information or to confirm your attendance please contact the Ceredigion Rural Development Team on 01545 572066 or contact jenny.chatwin2@ceredigion.gov.uk or info@catalys.org

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  • Flooding Crisis – Dredging up solutions
    Flooding Crisis – Dredging up solutions
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    I am prompted to post in response to the current flooding crisis and the flat spin into which it has sent our politicians.

    Flooding is a horribly intense experience when you are in the middle of it.  I know because our home was flooded on Halloween in 2000 – our own Millenial horror show – and we lost so much, including being put out of our home for 6 months.  This was particularly worrying for our (at the time) 4 year old whose greatest concern was that Santa would find him in our temporary accommodation.  He did…Santa has an intelligence system that is the envy of NSA & GCHQ.

    What characterised the community response at that time was that this was an unfortunate, but inevitable consequence of living in a flood plain.  There was a quiet acceptance and everyone got on with dealing with the aftermath and generally the insurance companies did their job.

    Things have changed in the past 14 years.

    Firstly, a lot of people who did not think they would be affected are affected, including those in the Thames catchment and wider South East who do not normally expect to be at the mercy of the elements.  Secondly, the repeated effects on communities such as those in the Somerset Levels are having a cumulative effect on their ability to cope.  Thirdly, the insurance companies have considerably hardened their attitudes since 2000 and many people no longer have cover or have huge excesses, that make claims prohibitive.

    This has led to a rather fevered “something must be done” atmosphere and in these days of wild claims and desperate communities and even more desperate politicians, people are reaching for whatever seems like it might be an answer.

    Over the past few weeks this has led to clarion calls for wide scale dredging.  As Richard Benyon points out in his thoughtful piece in the Guardian, if you were to follow the logic of the calls being made in Somerset, then 1/4 of GDP would need to be allocated to dredging alone.  Clearly bonkers. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/13/beware-politicians-pretending-armchair-hydrologists?CMP=twt_gu.

    Dredging is not the silver bullet answer some seem to believe it can be.  It will make a small difference in some areas, but in these sort of flood events, the river channel is such a small proportion of the overall flood volume, that the difference it can make during these events is negligible.  In some cases it will make things worse, getting water off farm land and into downstream communities more quickly.  The intention of flood defence is to use flood plains to hold water until it can be safely channeled through urban areas and other bottle necks; providing the best protection for life and property.  Dredging is of most benefit to farmers, as it helps get water of farm land more quickly, but this can be to the disadvantage of rural and urban areas downstream; you then have the hoary question of who controls the pumps.

    Flood defence planning is really complex and I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I do have some personal knowledge from land management projects in the Severn catchment.  What that taught me is that any solution needs to be catchment wide and needs to balance social, economic and environmental interests.  Mark Avery http://networkedblogs.com/TSaRl raises another interesting notion about the current floods response, i.e., that local people can come up with the solution.  Sadly, there is no silver bullet here either, the big society is simply not big enough – flood planning requires catchment wide planning, at least; it requires enormous technical resources and huge investment.  Flood defence is simply not an area where local community-based solutions can be relied upon.  This isn’t because community-led solutions are inherently bad; its just that what is needed here requires significant technical expertise, considerable public funds and has interconnected effects over wide areas.

    Our current flood defences have evolved over millennia and they are carefully calibrated on all those centuries of experience and great technical expertise.  The weather is changing and the defences and our management of them will need to be re-evaluated to ensure they remain fit for purpose.

    One last point and perhaps the issue that has left me with the worst taste in my mouth in this whole situation.  Beware the vested interests and piggy-backing in this debate.  Beware the politician (who hates expert opinion) who says he listened to experts too much.  There is also no logical or moral link between the UK’s International Aid budget and this domestic crisis other than that made by politicians and media channels who wish to see the aid budget reduced.  As the Prime Minister has said, we are a rich country and our aid budget is one of the few things we do for those who are in desperate need.  If the question is Somerset or Syria, I know where my vote would go – where it is a matter of life and death.  But this is a false choice – there is no more of a link between flood defence and International Aid than there is with Trident missiles, schools or hospitals.

    So, once there is more light than heat in this debate, it will certainly be time to look again at the Coalition Government’s and Environment Agency’s plans for the UK’s flood defence; and perhaps it will be time for an easing of austerity in that area.  We should also ensure planning is on a sufficient scale, i.e., catchment wide and that communities are properly consulted.

    My heart goes out to those who are currently dealing with the effects of flooding and it turns your life upside down, I personally have done my bit to donate support to those affected by the floods.  However, we can only look at solutions properly once the politicians are out of their waders and back around tables, listening properly to the expert and local opinion and giving the appropriate agencies the tools to ensure communities are protected for the long term.  Maybe it’s also time to look at statutory intervention in the flood insurance market.  In the meantime, please give generously to the flood recovery appeals and give these suffering communities our moral and practical support; and I hope you are all back home by Christmas.

     

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  • Cohesion policy agreed
    Cohesion policy agreed
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    The Final cohesion policy has now been achieved, which sets in motion the cascade of policy and programme development both at Brussels and Member State levels.

    The four last outstanding political issues of the 2014 – 2020 cohesion policy were: 


    (i) Macro-economic conditionality: a condition that ensures that the effectiveness of the five European structural and investment funds is not undermined by unsound macro-economic policies, as the Council together with the Parliament will be able to potentially suspend the payments and the commitments; 


    (ii) Performance Reserve: Measures to improve the efficiency of spending by allocating the reserve to the best-performing programmes that have met pre-defined targets; 


    (iii) Pre – financing: Annual pre-financing will be increased from 2.5 per cent in 2014 – 2016 to 3 per cent in 2020 – 2023; 


    (iv) and Co – financing: The Council agreed to increase the co-financing rates from 50 per cent to 85 per cent for the outermost regions and Cyprus (limited until 2017, with a review clause in 2016). 

    http://www.neurope.eu/article/2014-2020-cohesion-policy-agreed

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  • EU Forum on Local Governance, Vrboska, Island of Hvar/Croatia 2013
    EU Forum on Local Governance, Vrboska, Island of Hvar/Croatia 2013
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    The 10th annual summer school ‘EU Forum on Local Governance’ took place at the Hotel Adriatic, Vrboska, Island of Hvar, from 11-13th September 2013. Over 30 participants from private and public sectors from five different countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia), including college students from U.S. participated in this year school. The EU Forum is a joint collaboration between EPIC (the European Policy Information Center) and Catalys, this year was supported by the Centre of Excellence within the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

    Marija Kapitanovic, Directorate General for Bilateral Affairs within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Croatia opened the summer school with the presentation introducing Ministry’s new Centre of Exellence- Advisory Committee for Transitional Processes whose goal is transfer of lessons and solutions acquired during the EU accession process, as well as regional cooperation through transfer of knowledge and experience.

    Managing Director of Catalys, Ian Baker, during two days of presentations discussed the new 2014-20 programme and funding agenda, project management at local level, as well as acessing EU Funds for local projects.

    Baker also led two project clinics on – ‘Developing Project Proposals’. The participants were divided in four smaller groups and challenged to produce a project based on problem and objective tree analysis. In the space of 24 hours, each group successfully produced a project proposal, which was then evaluated within the workshop.

    Managing Director of European Policy Information Centre (EPIC), Andreas Staab, argued challenges that EU is facing regarding its enlargement. The participants were actively involved in podium discussion over the EU’s future.

    Robert Hancké, Reader in European Political Economy, led a discussion on the Eurozone crisis and its effects on local government. Hancké’s interactive approach encouraged exciting debate over future of the Euro.

    Graham Waddell, the Head of EaRTH (Environmental and Renewable Technologies Hub Programme) linked EU energy policies and its effects on local development. Waddell introduced local case studies and energy challenges that are placed upon the EU.

    Senior advisor at the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, Ivan Ciprijan, presented the Croatian IPARD Programme. IPARD is an integral part of the IPA (Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance) and its main objectives are the improvement of market efficiency, implementation of Community standards, preparation for agri-environmental measures and local rural development strategies, as well as development of rural economy. The presentation was especially useful for the participants from the candidate countries and potential candidate countries who are beginning the accession process.

    All participants successfully finished course and were awarded certificates. Evaluations generated afterwards showed over 90% approval rating.

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  • Bosnia’s €1.5bn Pre-accession funding at risk
    Bosnia’s €1.5bn Pre-accession funding at risk
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    The shocking possibility is that EU funding amounting to €1.5bn could be lost to Bosnia if no agreement is reached between the political (ethnic) parties.

    The following article is taken from today’s Dnevni Avaz:

    If the 10th September this year, BiH does not reach agreement with the European Union (EU ) , it could lose the right to financial assistance in the amount and in excess of 1.5 billion KM , “Dnevni Avaz ” .

    That day , however, is scheduled meeting of the Monitoring Committee of Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina , which will decide whether there will be continued implementation of projects from the EU Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA ) in our country or those of the 2014th was to be abolished , confirmed unofficially for our paper source close to the EU .

    Measures and activities

    Provided that the projects sponsored by the Union of teaching is ” a clear political agreement on the measures and actions, including the approval of relevant projects ,” and an agreement on how to further implement the projects get the green light of the EU. The problem is that so far, everything went very hard and several projects had already been suspended .

    – No one can call into question our commitment to helping BiH. We have seen it so many times so far proven . Here we have invested billions of marks. But we still have to have a secure mechanism to protect EU taxpayers’ money . Only if there is a clear agreement that will allow us in every moment of verifying on the ground to implement agreed , EU funds will continue to be available to Bosnia and Herzegovina – the attitude of the EU Delegation in the country.

    IPA funds realized from the 2007th year . For BiH since 2007th to 2013th allocated more than 600 million.

    For funds from the IPA 2 funds from the 2014th by 2020. , the amount of assistance for BiH is not yet specified . One reason for this is the fact that the money from the first package of IPA assistance is spent. That evil is Gode , the EU has in the past two months , due to the inability of the BiH authorities to agree , had to suspend projects worth about ten million.

    indirect aid

    – We are in the last five years has implemented more than 300 projects in BiH worth over 300 million euros. In the process of implementation is still more than a hundred projects. But now you face the danger not only to you and other planned projects suspension but you do not get anything out of the IPA second We no longer have neither the time nor the patience to wait that you agree . The global economic crisis and the money can not wait. If you do you will not, I will take it for a second – it was said , ” Avaz ” at the EU Delegation in BiH.

    It was explained to us that in order for Bosnia and Herzegovina from the IPA 2 projects should be allocated at least 600 million euros. In addition, the IPA is not the only instrument of direct EU aid our country . With him , is currently being implemented and programs funds EIDHR ( European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights) , IFS (Instrument for Stability ) . If BiH lose access to IPA funds, automatically loses and help from the other two funds.

    An additional problem

    To make matters does not come alone , indicated by the fact that it meant the suspension of aid to BiH from all other European institutions – the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to the European Bank in Frankfurt. By default , the money that had been planned for Bosnia and Herzegovina from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund , in the best case would be frozen until the situation in the country improves.

    Taken together , the lack of IPA 2 funds grew to the loss that would be measured billion marks .

    – We have repeatedly warned of the dangers of falling behind BiH to neighboring countries . While you’re fighting and you keep talking about something you do not, other countries in the region are working hard and introduce quality standards of the EU and thus attract potential investors and increase their economic growth. Blocking reforms not only political but also economic weight – stand out in the EU .

    project Implementation

    To show its effectiveness in the past in BiH , the EU Delegation to emphasize that the work on the reforms in our country to be realized in full or begin implementation of 700 projects.

    – Of these, 300 completed projects in various segments of the economy and life. An additional 300 projects were approved , and another hundred in the final stage of approval. Disunity among politicians has led to the June and July we start to suspend the project , which is open to a very dangerous precedent . Time for a deal is running out , and our patience – warn the EU .

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