[Vodice and Tisno, 20 – 23 May 2019]
The Third Croatian Rural Parliament was held from May 20 – 23, 2019 in Vodice and Tisno, in the Šibenik-Knin County on the Adriatic coast. The main theme was “Smart villages”, or the villages of the future. The organizers were the Croatian Network for Rural Development (HMRR), the Ministry of Agriculture/Network for Rural Development (MRR). Local Action Group More 249 was host and co-organizer of the event.
Parliament gathered more than 300 participants from all over Croatia – representatives of LAGs and associations dealing with rural development, professional and scientific organizations, representatives of ministries and state administrative bodies, regions and municipalities, local and regional development agencies, entrepreneurs, agricultural producers, craftsmen and other rural stakeholders. International guests included Mr. Tom Jones of the European Economic and Social Committee and representatives of the European Commission – Michael Pielke and Stefan Jensen.
The President of the HMRR – Mr. Albert Varga, and the Vice Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia and the Minister of Agriculture – Mr. Tomislav Tolušić opened the Parliament, followed by introductory speeches of other high dignitaries.
On the second day, presentations were focused on current topics – smart villages, the future of the CAP and guidelines for the new programming period. In a panel discussion the participants had the opportunity to ask questions and get the answers from the panellists – Mr. Krešimir Ivančić (Ministry of Agriculture), Ms. Spomenka Đurić (Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds), Mr. Michael Pielke (European Commission) and Ms. Svetlana Edmeades (The World Bank). On the same day participants continued discussions on various topics in five smaller groups in the format of the world café / rural cafe.
The third day was devoted to field workshops, ten of them in total on various topics. The participants were able to exchange experiences and opinions on topics crucial for the growth and development of rural areas. Topics included discussions about smart management, co-operation of stakeholders at the local level and possibilities for multi-funded financing of rural development, environmental protection, nature and climate, resource conservation, sustainable development, digital villages, transportation options in rural areas and islands, how to keep young people in rural areas and resources in fisheries.
On the last day, the very valuable conclusions of all the thematic workshops were presented, many of them overlapping through many groups. The importance of continuous education of all those involved in rural development was emphasised: from farmers, pupils and students, to employees of various bodies and services, and especially researchers and educators, who need to transfer their knowledge to new users and generations. Also, mutual learning and the use of good practice were emphasized. The conclusions of the Third Croatian Rural Parliament will serve as a very important element in discussions about the next programming period.