What is ELARD?

The European LEADER Association for Rural Development is a non-profit organisation set up to improve the quality of life in rural areas and to maintain their population through sustainable, integrated local development. We currently gather 32 members from 29 European countries and beyond.

ELARD aims at spreading the philosophy, principles and scope of the LEADER and Community Led Local Development (CLLD) methods grounded in the following seven specific features to achieve sustainable rural development across Europe:

  • Area-based local development strategies
  • Bottom-up elaboration and implementation of strategies
  • Local public-private partnerships: Local Action Groups (LAGs)
  • Integrated and multi-sectoral actions
  • Innovation
  • Networking
  • Cooperation

Our purpose is financially disinterested. It is to federate the national and regional LEADER networks of LAGs, to promote the LEADER/CLLD methodologies as development tools in local development, to facilitate the recognition of rural society, to support and influence EU policies in favour of rural development, to promote common projects and experience-sharing within rural development programmes, and to bring forward the voice of rurality in Europe.

We strive to become the primary advocate of LEADER/CLLD and other measures in favour of local development in Europe and neighbouring countries.

ELARD pursues the following activities:

  1. The promotion of the philosophy and principles of LEADER, CLLD and other initiatives related to rural development, that give regards to the endogenous and sustained development of rural areas, the strengthening and diversification of their economy, the maintenance of their population, the quality of life of their inhabitants, and the conservation of their natural and cultural resources.
  2. The promotion of solidarity among the citizens of the European Union rural areas, in the framework of the LEADER initiative or similar ones mentioned above.
  3. The encouragement and promotion of rural innovation actions, by means of awareness raising, dissemination of results and any other means that help the promotion of rural development initiatives.
  4. The support to its members in their efforts to carry out innovative actions in the field of rural development.
  5. The advice to European, and international institutions in the elaboration of programs and policies that impact rural development.
  6. To act as a forum for member networks interested in sharing their ideas and experiences related to rural development in Europe and neighbouring countries.
  7. The representation of the interests and needs of its members in national, European, and other international institutions.
  8. To liaise and connect with the other stakeholders, umbrella organisations, initiatives and institutions that work towards an integrated rural development.
  9. To help members that may be interested in locating partners for their cooperation projects and to encourage initiatives that will lead to cooperation.
  10. To keep trace of innovative projects and initiatives throughout Europe and in neighbouring countries and capitalise on them. 
  11. To participate in European calls for projects and actions that tackle the aims of the Association.

Our values are as follows: commitment, sustainability, human rights as stated in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, transparency & liability, trust and loyalty, inclusiveness and positive spirit, cooperation, participation & democracy, solidarity, and the European values.