Every two years the Dutch village association LVKK organises a Rural Parliament. On November 23 the Rural Parliament 2019 took place in Venhorst. Venhorst was also the host for the European Rural Parliament 2017!
The Dutch Rural Parliament had 180 participants. About 100 participants were representatives of village-councils in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, 1500 village councils are members of 10 Provincial Village Associations. Together they build the national village-association, the Landelijke Vereniging Kleine Kernen (LVKK). A village council is a non-political organization that is open to all residents of the village, is not limited to one or a few sectors and aims to improve the quality of life in the village.
At the Rural Parliament five topics were discussed:
1. What can a village-supporter mean for the village? Village-supporter is a new function, designed to help older people to find their way in the nursing world. It is mostly an inhabitant of the own village with a wide network. The village-supporter works under the direction of the Village Council.
2. Is circular agriculture a promising perspective?
3. How do we find a new destination for vacant churches and agricultural buildings? In which way can we reuse these buildings for the benefit of the village?
4. What is the new role for a village-council? How can we adapt to changes such as the rise of cooperatives? Based on a study by the University of Utrecht we have developed a game for village councils to ask themselves the right questions about their future.
5. What opportunities does the new Environment Act offer for us? This new act deals with full-scale spatial planning with an important emphasis on involving residents.
There was also a short presentation about the results of the European Rural Parliament that took place in Candas early November. One of the issues was the EU Smart Villages program. The idea of a Smart Villages program was born at the ERP 2017 in Venhorst. MEP Lambert van Nistelrooij successfully brought a proposal to the European Parliament. It is now up to all those who are involved, to guide the development of the program in the right direction. It should become a program that really supports the village movement in Europe.
In the closing plenary session, there was a dialogue with Dutch MP’s about what is needed to support grassroot initiatives and the village associations in the Netherlands.