According to the Leader-assessment, the greatest added value of Leader lies in social capital and local knowledge. In the future, the Leader approach should however be both reformed and strengthened.
Leader is a community-based rural development programme, based on the principles of area-based, bottom-up, local partnership. It is multidisciplinary, innovative, interregional and involves international cooperation and networking. The Leader principles are widely accepted, but their implementation varies. In Finland, 54 regional Leader groups are responsible for implementing Leader activities.
The main findings and conclusions of the evaluation are as follows:
1) Leader activity has become a well-established practice in Finnish rural development.
2) The Leader governance model works relatively well but it takes courage to reform.
3) Leader principles are widely accepted but implementation varies.
4) The governance model supports the principles, but there are tensions between them.
5) The greatest added value of Leader lies in social capital and local knowledge.
6) In the future, the Leader approach must be strengthened.
The evaluation was carried out for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry by the Regional Development Consultancy MDI and the University of Helsinki’s Ruralia Institute and is part of the evaluation of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 for mainland Finland.