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Publication - Report

Developing Performance Indicators for Rural Scotland: A Scoping Study

Published: 18 Mar 2010
ISBN:
978 0 7559 9262 1

Scoping project assessing suitability of existing performance indicators to rural Scotland.

67 page PDF

913.6kB

67 page PDF

913.6kB

Contents
Developing Performance Indicators for Rural Scotland: A Scoping Study
5.0 Learning from comparator countries

67 page PDF

913.6kB

5.0 Learning from comparator countries

5.1 Introduction

In order to further inform our scoping study on performance indicators for rural Scotland, the research has looked at a number of countries in the EU or the wider European Economic Area. The selection of countries for comparison was done on the basis of finding those countries in northern Europe which are either:

  • similar to Scotland in scale and/or geographically close, or
  • have a significant rural territory and therefore likely to have paid attention to the issue of rural performance indicators.

Our purpose in looking across a range of northern European countries is primarily to identify and analyse alternative approaches to the monitoring and the selection and development of indicators. In addition, the comparator country review was undertaken with a view to developing an understanding of alternative approaches to rural development in domestic policy terms, beyond the unifying influence of the Rural Development Programme (for those countries in the EU).

5.2 Summary of comparator countries

5.2.1 Key data on comparator countries

The nine comparator countries are Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden.

Tables 5.1 and 5.2 provide a summary of key data for the nine comparator countries alongside Scotland. They use the OECD definitions of predominantly urban, predominantly rural and intermediate discussed in Chapter 2.

Table 5.1 shows that Scotland has a relatively small proportion of its population living in the predominantly rural areas. In two countries (Ireland and Finland) more than half the population is in the predominantly rural areas. The table also shows population change. Scotland does have the most rapid growth of the rural population at a time when rural populations in most countries are in decline.

Table 5.2 gives some indication of the relative significance of predominantly rural areas in the respective national economies. In all countries the share of Gross Value Added ( GVA) produced in the predominantly rural areas is somewhat below their share of population. Compared to the other small countries in the study the predominantly rural areas of Scotland account for a relatively small proportion of total output (even if this is relatively high compared to the UK average). Furthermore, compared to the other countries under consideration, agriculture in Scotland accounts for a small proportion of employment.

Table 5.1: Comparator Country summary data - population

Country

Population 21

Total Number

PR %

IR %

PU %

Growth of rural population 2001-2006

Belgium

10,421,136

3

14

83

-0.5

Denmark

5,401,177

39

32

29

-0.3

Finland

5,228,173

62

12

26

0.3

France

60,521,142

31

40

29

-0.4

Germany

82,516,267

12

40

48

0.0

Iceland

292,587

37

63

0

-0.3

Ireland

4,043,800

72

0

28

1.1

Norway

4,591,908

49

40

11

-0.6

Sweden

8,993,533

49

30

21

0.1

Scotland

5,114,200

17

39

44

4.5


Source: OECD

Table 5.2: Comparator Country summary data - agricultural workforce and GVA

Country

Agricultural workforce

GVA

Proportion of workforce employed in agriculture %

PR %

IR %

PU %

Belgium

1.6

2

8

90

Denmark

3.2

34

28

38

Finland

4.6

53

12

35

France

2.7

13

48

39

Germany

2.1

10

23

67

Iceland

7.2

n/a

n/a

n/a

Ireland

8.8

62

0

38

Norway

4.0

40

40

20

Sweden

2.7

43

28

29

Scotland

2.2

13

37

50


Source: OECD

Section 5.2.1 below summarises the key rural issues for the nine selected comparator countries. Section 5.3 provides a more in depth insight to the approach to rural monitoring adopted by a further four comparator countries.

5.2.2 Key rural issues in the comparator countries

  • Belgium - key rural issues related to:
  • Safeguarding and reinforcing the openness, diversity and viability of rural areas. 22
  • The creation of a natural environmental infrastructure essential for safeguarding and strengthening biodiversity.
  • Agri-environmental policies are mainly focused on reducing the intensity of farming.
  • Protecting biodiversity and cultural landscapes. 23
  • Denmark - key rural issues related to:
  • Limiting migration from rural districts through the creation of alternative/supplementary jobs.
  • Creating an attractive environment for businesses and living.
  • Improvement of basic service facilities for the rural economy and population.
  • The renewal, reorganisation and development of villages and the protection and preservation of cultural assets in rural areas. 24
  • Finland - key rural issues related to:
  • The impact of out migration in the age/skill/gender structure of remote rural areas.
  • The availability of public and private services.
  • The integration of rural areas with the knowledge base urban economy.
  • The impact of climate change. 25
  • France - key rural issues related to:
  • Natural and agricultural areas preserved in the face of urban sprawl.
  • Attracting new populations and making sure they put down roots in new localities.
  • Improving access to transport infrastructure in rural areas.
  • Expanding the development of rented accommodation in rural areas.
  • Promoting the development of services.
  • Supporting the development of telecommunication infrastructure in rural areas. 26
  • Germany - key rural issues related to:
  • Rural policy focusing mainly on agriculture.
  • Fostering business development and innovation through the provision of public goods and territorially targeted education and training programmes.
  • Addressing the emerging strain upon service delivery.
  • Germany's regional development policy suffering from a growing urban bias. 27
  • Iceland - key rural issues related to:
  • An overall policy to maintain the population in rural areas of the country.
  • Equal opportunities for employment, culture and education, regardless of where people choose to live.
  • Regional development policy focused upon innovation and knowledge as a way to strengthen the countryside, rather than reliance on the traditional industries of fishing and agriculture. 28
  • Ireland - key rural issues related to:
  • Improving the competitiveness of the agricultural sector through support for structural change.
  • Improving the environment and the countryside by support for land management.
  • Improving the quality of life in rural areas and encouraging diversification of economic activity. 29
  • Norway - key rural issues related to:
  • Norway does not have a rural policy or regional development policy as such, given that it is a predominantly rural country.
  • Government policies are reviewed through regional impact assessment at the three levels of government (national, county and municipal), and equity of provision for rural areas is a central theme.
  • Creating economic growth in all parts of the country, and seeking to counter the trend of migration from remote regions to cities. 30
  • Sweden - key rural issues related to:
  • Innovative goods and service production related to farming, forestry and other environmental and land based industries and rural areas should be developed to strengthen the economic base and rural growth and employment opportunities.
  • Achieving ecologically, economically and socially sustainable development in rural Sweden.
  • It is important to rural development that women have the same opportunities as men.
  • Knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship must be supported. 31

5.3 Findings on approaches to monitoring in key comparator countries

The following paragraphs describe key findings from a subset of three case study countries where, in our judgement, elements of their approach to performance indicators had the greatest potential to be transferred to the Scottish context. These countries are Finland, Germany and Ireland. For each of these countries we have undertaken an analysis based upon the approach to rural monitoring and the transferability of that country's rural policy to the Scottish context (where applicable).

5.3.1 Finland

Approach to rural monitoring

Finland has a system of national performance management in place. The system is guided by the National Government Document 2007 which sets out three overarching programmes, each supported by a range of indicators and measures. It is anticipated that implementation of the Government Programme will be monitored as often as data allows, with a thorough review to be undertaken at the mid term point. The three programmes are:

  • Employment, entrepreneurship and work life
  • Making full use of the work input
  • Increasing the motivation of enterprises
  • Improving the quality and productivity of work life
  • Health Promotion
  • Objectives for each age group until 2011
  • Population level objectives until 2011
  • Well-being of children, youth and families
  • Well-being of families with children
  • Prevention of social exclusion

Currently there is a small number of rural development indicators included within the national set of indicators. The indicators are focused on the development of entrepreneurship in rural areas, concerning numbers of rural enterprises and trends in enterprises for the service sector.

The government strategy is very clear in its message towards rural areas, identifying the primary aim to keep them inhabited and dynamic.

The National Rural Policy Programme was drawn up by the Rural Policy Committee, and the aim of the programme is to 'revitalise and diversify occupations and safeguard and develop services in rural areas by co-ordinating measures in various administrative sectors that affect them' 32 . The Rural Policy Committee (formerly the Rural Development Project) has been in place since 1988.

Rural policy has been drawn up under a two-fold system:

  • Broad Rural Policy - the role of different sectoral policies in rural areas.
  • Narrow Rural Policy - specific programmes oriented to rural development.

This strategy is considered good practice compared to policies common in other OECD countries, which have been judged either unachievable or too limited in scope. 33

The programme contains 66 measures which are categorised into four priorities 34 :

1. Reorganisation of industries and work;
2. Raising the level of competence;
3. Improving basic services and living opportunities; and
4. Reinforcing the operational structures in rural areas.

Each measure has a number of responsible parties and the implementation is reported twice yearly in a report drawn together by the Rural Policy Committee.

Finnish rural policy in general is held in high regard by politicians and society alike, largely due to the success of the Rural Policy Committee.

Transferability of rural indicators to a Scottish context

The work undertaken in Finland would, we believe, merit further investigation because of the mature state of its rural policy and the extent to which this is apparently embedded within national policy.

5.3.2 Germany

Approach to rural monitoring

The core set of National Indicators in the Statistical Yearbook includes the following topics, relevant for rural development: environment, culture, leisure and sports, agriculture and forestry, hotel and restaurant industry, tourism, mobility, renewable energy, demography, land use and living standard. However, topics like public transport, social infrastructure and activities are not considered in this yearbook.

Policy and monitoring efforts in respect of rural areas are primarily sectoral; and focusing on agriculture. Germany's main rural policy framework (the Joint Task GAK) provides space for vertical dialogue but, despite recent improvements, it is largely ineffective in terms of producing a place-based approach to rural development.

Regional policy developed under the Joint Task GRW is de facto, largely rural policy. However, this 'task force' uses mainly a remedial, top-down approach, and has a geographically limited scope ('New Länder'). Although the place-based programmes such as LEADER and Regionen Aktiv (initiated by the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture ( BMVEL)) prove how rural policy could/should be shaped and implemented; they seem to be 'niche' and potentially under-funded.

Germany does not seem to be well equipped in terms of rurally oriented indicators. Indeed, one of the main conclusions of a cross-regional evaluation of rural development programmes of Germany (Ortner, 2004) was that there is a lack of monitoring data on trends and policy impact in rural areas in Germany, as well as heterogeneity of data collection across the Federation. The OECD in its Review of Rural Policy in Germany also highlights as one of its recommendations to 'establish a continuous regional monitoring systems on at least NUTS 3 level, including all relevant 'sectors' (land use, environment, economy and social indicators).

Transferability of rural indicators to a Scottish context

The OECD review and other evaluation papers on rural policy in Germany indicate ways in which the monitoring and evaluation processes could be improved. It is interesting to note the 'unique' approach for analysing rural policy in Germany - focusing not only on the baseline indicators and their evolution, but also on the institutional 'critical success factors' for an effective rural policy.

5.3.3 Ireland

Approach to rural monitoring

The Department of the Taoiseach within the Irish Government requested the Central Statistics Office to support a move towards more evidence-based policy-making by developing a set of national progress indicators. The Department commissioned this approach as part of 'Sustaining Progress - Social Partnership' Agreement 2003-2005. A key purpose for the selected indicators was that they should be consistent with international statistical concepts and facilitate international benchmarking. The first 'measuring progress' report was produced in 2003 and it has since been published on an annual basis.

The 'Measuring Ireland's Progress' report contains a total of 108 indicators covering 49 key themes. Over half of the themes are principally targeted towards social domains to reflect overarching national policy objectives and the remaining indicators are covered by economic, innovation and environmental domains.

The overarching national approach to Irish rural policy was set out in the White Paper on Rural Development (1999); however there are no specific rural performance indicators to measure progress towards this vision. The 1999 White Paper committed the government to the following vision:

  • Ensuring the economic and social well-being of rural communities.
  • Providing the conditions for a meaningful and fulfilling life for all people living in rural areas.
  • Striving to achieve a rural Ireland in which there will be vibrant, sustainable communities, and equitable opportunities between rural and urban communities.

More recent national policy is still driven by this broad context for rural development across Ireland. However, Ireland has given prominence to rural development within the National Development Plan (2007-2013) and the National Spatial Strategy - People, Places and Potential.

Transferability of rural indicators to a Scottish context

Ireland has a committed, long term approach to rural development which still integrates well with its 1999 Rural White Paper. Rural Development has been mainstreamed across the key national strategies and primarily resources are inputted into rural communities through the National Rural Development Programme. While rural-specific indicators do not feature strongly in the national performance framework, and a separate set of national indicators has not been developed, there exists strong synergy with the Scottish context at a national strategic level, although this does not filter down to the level required by this study in terms of comparable rurally specific indicators.

5.4 Conclusion

This chapter has examined nine comparator countries which were selected on their size, geographic location or those whose rural areas accounts for a significant territory. Some common key rural issues were found across countries including diversity of rural areas, role of natural environment, population, migration, renewal of villages and services and infrastructure.

A more detailed review of monitoring approaches was conducted for three comparator countries: Finland, Germany and Ireland. Although it found differing approaches to monitoring in the countries, partly as a result of different approaches to rural policy, it did not suggest any specific indicators that could be readily adopted in rural Scotland.


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