Šibenik-Knin County promotes rural development on coast and in hinterland

29 Jan 2013

image Signing ceremony/ Photo by: Šibenik-Knin County
Under agreements signed today in Šibenik, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will support the establishment of two new Local Action Groups in Šibenik-Knin County, one for hinterland areas and one for the coast and islands. Local Action Groups (LAGs) are the framework used by European Union (EU) member states to formulate, finance and implement local development strategies for rural communities. The agreements provide a total of HRK 310,500 to help establish the two new LAGs, with the county providing HRK 160,500 and UNDP contributing HRK 150,000. UNDP has already supported the establishment of a dozen LAGs in Šibenik-Knin, Zadar, Split-Dalmatia, Dubrovnik, Karlovac and Sisak-Moslavina Counties.

The LAGs bring together representatives of the public, private and civil sectors to formulate strategies for a coherent regions that encompass a number of smaller towns and municipalities. Credible local strategies are key to accessing EU rural development funds.

"In EU member states, Local Action Groups serve as conduits to channel rural development funds to local communities," said Louisa Vinton, UNDP Resident Representative in Croatia. "The creation of new LAGs in Šibenik-Knin County brings Croatia a step closer to this model, and what is needed now is action at the national level to approve LAGs for financial support."

"Together with UNDP, in 2010 we begun the implementation of the project „Introducing the LEADER approach to the Šibenik-Knin County". After the competition procedure, the support was provided to the Local Action Group Krka. Today, through providing means for the introduction of the LEADER approach and for other rural areas of the Šibenik-Knin County, we would additionally like to raise awareness on the importance of local actors in making decisions related to strategy and defining priorities which should be implemented at local levels, as well as to prepare newly established LAGs for the use of EU rural development funds." said Željko Šimunac, Deputy County Prefect.

One new LAG covers the Šibenik-Knin County hinterland, including the City of Knin and the municipalities of Kistanje, Ervenik, Kijevo, Civljane and Biskupija. The second includes the City of Vodice; the coastal municipalities of Pirovac, Tribunj, Tisno, Murter-Kornati, Primošten and Rogoznica; the islands of Krapanj, Zlarin, Kaprije and Žirje; and the rural Šibenik suburbs of Grebaštica, Žaborić, Jadrtovac, Brodarica, Zaton and Raslina. UNDP has already supported the creation of the county's sole existing LAG, "Krka," which includes the Cities of Skradin and Drniš; the municipalities of Prominu, Unešić, Ružić, and Bilice; and the Brnjica, Goriš, Konjevrate, Radonić, Lozovac and Dubrava districts of Šibenik. Together, the three LAGs will cover the entire rural territory of Šibenik-Knin County by the end of 2013.

View map of Šibenik-Knin County LAG areas

The two new LAGs cover territories that face similar development challenges. Both have low employment and growth rates, as well as low population density: the Šibenik-Knin hinterland has just 20 inhabitants per km2, while the coast and islands have 38 inhabitants per km2. One of the aims of LAGs is to help rural areas keep pace with urban regions, and to support LAG members to shape, lead and apply participatory planning processes at the local level.

UNDP has been active in Šibenik-Knin County since 2006, implementing 27 local development projects with a total value of more than USD 4.5 million. Through its COAST project, UNDP has also supported "green businesses" in the county worth USD 600,000. The county and the cities of Drniš, Knin, Skradin, Šibenik and Vodice are also involved in energy-efficiency programs for public-sector buildings that UNDP implements on behalf of the Government.