• Happy Birthday to….us
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    Today we passed a significant milestone – it is our 5th birthday.

    That means 5 years of some of the most fascinating local development projects across Europe and most recently in the Caribbean too.

    Although we have majored on evaluation, from equality impact assessment to fisheries programme evaluation, that is far from our “sole” focus. Some of our biggest projects have been in innovation strategy for the University sector and for regions and Rural Development programme development.

    We have met some great people along the way, many of whom we continue to work with today. Indeed amongst our 44 projects undertaken to date, the majority are repeat business. When a client gets to know us they like us!

    Which causes us to reflect – what has been the secret of our success? Well firstly, we know, although the work we do requires specialist technical expertise; it is first and foremost a people business. This means having the right people in the Catalys teams to face the client. It also means understanding the client and what they need and what they can do. We work hard on this, and think it is part of the reason that people like us.

    We would like to sign off our birthday message with a big thank you to all those who have shown faith in us and our message building capacity for local development through building the capacity of people.

    Those repeat clients – Slow Food, UNDP, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, University of Wolverhampton, Belgrade Open School and Cornwall, Ceredigion and Dumfries and Galloway Councils.

    We have worked with some great associates whose skills and capabilities have added immeasurably to the Catalys family, particularly, Arwel, Dylan, Alex, Jo, Stephen, Carol, Blanca, Sanela, Jasmina, Amela, Nikola, Ivana and Tajana.

    Special mention also to Good2Great, NRM Interface and Alpha Design and Marketing who have all assisted us in our development.

    Looking forward, this is no time to rest on our laurels. The future of local development is uncertain, particularly in the UK in the light of Brexit. What is certain is that innovation for local development will continue to be needed by communities across the territories where we work, what is less certain is how this will work in future. We will continue to be available to our clients and engaged in the policy debates that matter, so that we stay relevant and accessible and help to develop approaches to local development that work.

    Thank you to you all.

    Nuala, Ian, Alex, Mary and Callum.

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  • CSO focus in diverse 2017 Summer school in Croatia
    CSO focus in diverse 2017 Summer school in Croatia
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    This year we will again be collaborating with EPIC to deliver the summer school.  Catalys’ contribution will be to lead a session on the challenges and lessons regarding the development of CSOs in South East Europe. We will be using our experience from evaluating DG Enlargement’s Civil Society Facility (CSF) programmes in the region, together with programmes run by EC DEAR and DG ENV.

    Course Agenda – June 7th – 10th

    The summer school pays reference to the seismic changes that have rocked the political and financial establishment in Europe and the United States in recent months. In an emerging age of populism, resurgent nationalism, and ever-growing Euroscepticism, what challenges lie ahead for the future of the European project. The final agenda of the course might be subject to change in order to take on board any latest EU developments. However, we can anticipate that the following topics will be addressed.

    • Brexit and New Models of European Integration
    • Civil Society and the Move towards a West European Model
    • Economic and Monatary Union and the Persistent Debt Crises in Southern Europe
    • Enlargement in the Age of Euroscepticism
    • Migration
    • Energy and EU’s relationship with Russia
    • The Future of Global Trade after TTIP and TTP

    The course in not targeted toward one specific sector, and is therefore open to representatives from public administrations, business, law, finance, the media, or non-governmental organisations at national, regional and local level. The course is also suitable for students. The course will take place at the four star Senses Resort (www.senses.hr).

    To register your interest, or if you would like more information, please get in touch by sending an email to Andreas Staab at staab@epicseminars.com.
    You can also contact us on (+44) 208 444 7970.

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  • Sustainable Agriculture – Innovation v tradition
    Sustainable Agriculture – Innovation v tradition
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    Sustainable Agriculture – Innovation versus tradition – artisanal foods continue to surge, but should not distract from the need for the farmer to “feed us all”.

    In the wake of the European Parliament Vote this week, it seems timely to examine one of the dilemmas at the heart of the European Agriculture debate and one that weighs heavily on its future. Is the most appropriate path for European agriculture one that favours the small scale, artisanal, locally source product and supply chains, or one that is increasingly focused on the search for technological sliver bullets to every problem.

    The growth in consumer demand for food products with authenticity, where the story is part of that appeal appears to be a sustainable long term trend. All grocers’ response to this shows that this is a market trend that farmers should take seriously, even if some such as TESCO, by inventing fake farms risk undermining the market, as well as their own credibility.

    Coming from a farming family (although my parents left farming before my second birthday), I remember the plates, plaques and tankards in my wider family homes proudly declaiming “The Farmer Feeds us all”. This growth in demand for “real food” still remains a minority market and the farmers’ mission to feed us all means that serious choices are necessary to ensure that markets and supermarkets remain able to provide for the whole population.

    However, the challenges facing “mainstream” agriculture, such as a declining number of disease control agents, increasing disease and pesticide resistance alongside falling prices, mean that innovation is not just a nice to have, but it is essential for retaining our ability to ensure food is on the table for our growing population.

    For this reason the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee report: “Technological solutions for sustainable agriculture in the EU” is an important step. Last week a further report from MEP Jan Huitema, was approved that promoted agri-innovations calling for a range of measures from soliciting European Investment Bank cash, to satellites and insect farming.

    Innovative agriculture is the theme for both reports, e.g., calling for the use robotics and big data to deliver bigger yields. The McIntyre report asks that approvals for low-risk pesticides be speeded up and more controversially calls on the Commission not to hamper new plant-breeding techniques such as genome editing. Whether genome-edited plants count as GMOs or not is fast becoming a flashpoint between industry and NGOs.

    These innovation initiatives from AGRI MEPs speaks to a growing divide between those wedded to traditional farming methods and those keen on technological solutions. For instance, it seems clear that the more specific recommendations in McIntyre’s report could make it more difficult to gain European Parliament support. “The McIntyre report pushes for further industrialisation of agriculture,” said Franziska Achterberg, a food policy adviser at Greenpeace’s EU office. “We need to move to agro-ecology instead, which is the only way to combine productivity and environmental protection.”

    In the meantime, consumers continue to exercise their increasingly diverse choices and farmers continue to need to exercise production choices. It is clear to the observer that the crowded space of European Agriculture needs cool heads and the ability to achieve considered compromise that allows for a multi-functional agriculture to produce the food we need, alongside the cultural and environmental services that the CAP is designed to provide. Product and production Innovation should continue to play an essential role in enabling European farming to satisfy all its markets.

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  • Are you involved in LEADER or FLAG in Croatia?
    Are you involved in LEADER or FLAG in Croatia?
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    It is just 27 days to go until the Local Development School in Zadar which aims to bring together Local Action Groups in Croatia to discuss their work and look at solutions.

    If you are interested in:

    Writing Local Development Strategies – practical experience and workshops

    Fisheries Local Action Groups and LEADER groups working together

    Practical Local Development – lessons learnt in Croatia and beyond

    Transnational projects and learning

    Animation – Turning Community Energy into community development

    Local Energy Initiatives – practical experience

    This is the event for you.


    COST: The event fee is €160 Apply here – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LHS5ZW7

    In association with:

    Croatia Ministry for Agriculture

    Croatia Leader Network – LMH

    European Education Forum

    EDIC – Zadar

    Croatia Ministry for Foreign Affairs Centre of Excellence for Competent Open and Efficient Government


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  • Catalys Local Development School Croatia 29th & 30th Oct 2015
    Catalys Local Development School Croatia 29th & 30th Oct 2015
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    This year, Catalys Local Development School (CLDS) will take place in Zadar.  CLDS takes place on the mainland for the first time on 29-30th October 2015.

    A new partnership – CLDS will also be supported by new partners; including European Education Forum, Croatia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Leader Network of Croatia and EDIC Zadar.

    Topics – Using highly participative approach, including case studies specially developed for the event.  CLDS will cover diverse topics, including:

    • Animation – Turning Community Energy into community development
    • Local Energy Initiatives – practical experience
    • Writing Local Development Strategies – practical experience and workshops
    • Fisheries Local Action Groups and LEADER groups working together
    • Practical Local Development – lessons learnt in Croatia and beyond
    • Transnational projects and learning

    Where – The IMPACT Center will host the summer school in first class facilities in the beautiful and historic town of Zadar.  Zadar is a perfect location, it is one of the best connected cities in all of the region, situated in easy reach of Zagreb, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Split and Dubrovnik, as well as an international destination by air and sea.

    Why now – This is a really important time for local and rural development, many things are changing and new opportunities are being opened up for rural development, community energy and fisheries development groups.  We will look at what has worked and what is available now for Local Development Groups.

    Who should attend – CLDS will be an opportunity for those involved in Local Development from W Balkans to come together with fellow professionals from Ministries, National Agencies, Local Action Groups, Regional Development Agencies, Rural Development Agencies, Farmer Support Bodies and NGOs.  It is also for those who manage Local Development Programmes at the national and regional levels.

    Cost – the event fee is €160

    Apply here – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LHS5ZW7


    LEADER-LOGO-bez-teksta LOGO Ministry-odabrani_vectorizedimage001Europa-direct-Zadar-logo-infologo eefflag_yellow_low

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  • Growing partnership to support Summer School – and postponement
    Growing partnership to support Summer School – and postponement
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    We are delighted to inform colleagues that the partnership supporting the summer school has grown to include two new partners.  However, the process of bringing new partners into the course will take a little time.

    European Education Forum – will support the programme through the Europe for Citizens Programme, which encourages citizens’ participation in the European Union, by developing understanding of the Union and promoting intercultural engagement at the Union level.

    EDIC (Zadar) – is the European Information Centre in Zadar which provides information about the European Union, its policies and opportunities and promotes civic engagement.

    The logistics of bringing new partners into the partnership and reflecting their ideas also means that we cannot run the summer school at the planned time in September and will now look for a mutually acceptable time later in the year.  We will be in touch with all those who have made bookings and participants will be offered places at the later course.

    The summer school is also supported by the LEADER Network of Croatia (LMH), Ministry of Agriculture and the Rural Business School (UK).

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  • 3rd Catalys LEADER & Local Development Summer School Programme
    3rd Catalys LEADER & Local Development Summer School Programme
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    Day 1 –

    Optional introductory day for students and others who would like to understand the basics, e.g., anyone new to LEADER, LAGs, new LAG Chairmen and Board members.  It is also for students, farmers and fishermen who wish to find out more about the new EU programmes that support rural and coastal/fishing communities, including the LEADER programme.

    The introductory programme will include:

    • Lectures and discussions about LEADER, Fisheries LAGs and EU Rural Development.

    evening – reception

    Day 2


    • Welcome and introduction – IB
    • Our theme – Energy and rural development
    • How to energise a community – IL
    • Can energy be at the centre of local development – GW 
    • The New policy agenda – The EU’s Rural Development, LEADER and CLLD priorities for 2014-2020 – IB
    • Local Development Strategy development (LDS) – IB / IC
      • what is the difference between a good LDS and one that simply obeys the rules?
      • LDS development – case studies & good practice
    • Discussion – can Croatia and neighbouring countries learn the lessons of LDS development to produce good, relevant strategies, whilst obeying the rules. Can we keep everyone happy? – MM


    • Specific case studies – practical experience of the use of local development in the following areas:
      • community energy – GW
      • fishery development and FLAGs – IL
      • rural and agricultural innovation – IB
      • food as a focus for development; e.g., local food – IB
    • Discussion – what can we learn from these case studies? – GW
    • Learning journeys – presentation by Igor Ilić, winner of the first Catalys travel bursary. Igor will talk about his experience and the benefits of the learning journey


    • Summer school dinner

    Day 3


    • Energetic communities – The critical role of animation – IL/IB
      • the absolutely crucial role of the animateur, and why it is usually done badly
      • Film interviews with experienced animateurs
      • Practical animation role play exercise
    • Implementation in Croatia – IC
      • preparing LAGs and farmers for these opportunities, with a focus on Sub-measures 6.3 and 19.1
    • Why does LEADER still exist? – IB
      • Most EU programmes have a significantly shorter lifespan than LEADER, what makes it still relevant now, 25 years after its inception.
      • Case study examples of rural development challenges for which LEADER is a good vehicle
    • Learning about the new CAP – IL
      • we will introduce an online learning tool – Can EU CAP-IT online learning resource


    • Training and education for Rural Development – GW
      • the role of formal and informal learning
    • Transnational opportunities – IB
      • the role of cooperation projects and how to identify a good one.
    • Final Plenary – BM
      • Evaluation and next steps
      • And depart
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  • Catalys Local Development Summer School
    Catalys Local Development Summer School
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    Summer school agenda and dates

    Today on the day that we hear the news that the Croatian Rural Development Programme has been approved, we can also confirm that the Catalys summer school will take place from 3rd – 4th September 2015, in Zadar, Croatia.  The Summer School will be a great opportunity to discuss the opportunities that now exist for rural communities in Croatia.

    The agenda is taking shape with contributions from

    • The Earth Centre, UK
    • Ministry of Agriculture of Croatia
    • Local Development Strategies for LEADER programmes
    • LMH – LEADER Network of Croatia
    • Transnational experience from Serbia and Poland
    • LEADER/Fisheries experience from North Devon, England
    • Amongst others

    The summer school will be highly interactive and will include opportunities to discuss approaches to local development and look at common problems together in creative and stimulating ways.

    In accordance with this interactive approach, participants still have an opportunity to shape the agenda, by entering the following link – https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JKMSWMD – and stating your preferences. Please tell us what you want and help the summer school to be what you want it to be.

    We look forward to seeing you in Zadar.

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  • Adfywio – Welsh for Regenerating Our Town Centres
    Adfywio – Welsh for Regenerating Our Town Centres
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    Monday 13th April 2015 saw the Wales launch of a new book on regeneration written by Julian Dobson and published by PolicyPress at an event hosted by the School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography of Bangor University. The event, organised in conjunction with Crew Regeneration Wales, was attended by a wide range of regeneration practitioners, local councillors, architects and sustainable development students and included a lively presentation by Julian on his “Radical Agenda For The Future Of High Streets.” This included an historical account of cheese riots in Nottingham and more recent civil uprisings in Bristol and Tottenham. His central tenet, drawing on principles of neoliberalism, was that people and local communities needed to be at the centre of the process and that matters should not be left purely to elected politicians and market driven urban developers. In summing up the event, Honorary Lecturer and Catalys Associate Arwel Jones observed that the Welsh term for regeneration “adfywio” was probably a better term with its meaning of “re-enlivening” or putting life and dynamism back into the mix. He had seen many regeneration initiatives come and go in Wales, including Towns in View (an interpretation based approach), the Small Towns and Villages Enterprise Initiative (an economic development approach), Tourism Growth Areas (harnessing tourism) and the current Town Centre Partnership programme funded by Welsh Government, focused largely on capacity building. He also saw a collision or coalescence of regeneration agendas as embodied in the current Future Generations Bill going through the Welsh Assembly, with economic development, health and wellbeing, housing, education, environment and governance all being considered as part of creating the Wales in which we want to live. Town centres can rightly be regarded as some of its key microcosms, where a total and inclusive approach is needed if we are to tackle the complex issue of making them once again “vibrant and viable places” to quote a strategic strapline. The book is a welcome addition to the regeneration literature and to thinking places differently.

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  • Catalys Summer School – 2014 evaluation – The results are in!
    Catalys Summer School – 2014 evaluation – The results are in!
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    The results are in!  The 2014 Summer School had Excellent approval ratings of 80 – 90%!

    The independent evaluation of the 2014 summer school was undertaken through Survey Monkey and is now complete.

    Participants were asked a series of questions via online survey and responses were collected that represented over 60% of the participants.

    In overview, most people strongly agreed or agreed attendance was both positive and useful and that they took much useful information back to their workplaces.

    Participants also felt there were some areas where they wanted more information and they wanted more discussion time.  Several ideas were given for extra topics, including, rural tourism, green policies and practice, local development funding and more detail on policy and implementation for 2014-20.

    The strongest rating however was given in answer to the question whether another course would be welcomed, with 89% strongly agreeing or agreeing with this suggestion.

    Location was also discussed and 88% of respondents wanted to see the next course to take place on the mainland.

    The 2015 Summer School will therefore be organised in response to these findings and is due to take place in Zadar in on 2nd 3rd July 2015.

    We hope to see you there!

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