Community-led local development (CLLD) is a term used by the European Commission to describe an approach that turns traditional “top down” development policy on its head.
Under CLLD, local people take the reins and form a local partnership that designs and implements an integrated development strategy.
The strategy is designed to build on the community’s social, environmental and economic strengths or “assets” rather than simply compensate for its problems.
For this, the partnership receives long-term funding from the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds and decides how it is spent.
CLLD is an approach common to all the ESI Funds, which:
- Focuses on specific sub-regional areas;
- Is community-led, by local action groups composed of representatives of local public and private socio-economic interests;
- Is carried out through integrated and multi-sectoral area-based local development strategies, designed taking into consideration local needs and potential; and
- Takes into consideration local needs and potential, includes innovative features in the local context, networking and, where appropriate, co-operation.
This approach allows for a connected and integrated use of the Funds to deliver local development strategies.
The main aims of this joint approach by the ESI Funds are to simplify and expand the use of CLLD as a development tool. CLLD will:
- Encourage local communities to develop integrated bottom-up approaches in circumstances where there is a need to respond to territorial and local challenges calling for structural change;
- Build community capacity and stimulate innovation (including social innovation), entrepreneurship and capacity for change by encouraging the development and discovery of untapped potential from within communities and territories;
- Promote community ownership by increasing participation within communities and build the sense of involvement and ownership that can increase the effectiveness of EU policies; and
- Assist multi-level governance by providing a route for local communities to fully take part in shaping the implementation of EU objectives in all areas.
The European Commission has put in place tools to support national, regional and local actors in programming and implementing CLLD. In 2013-2014 the four Directorates General (DGs) in charge of CLLD jointly developed two sets of guidance documents, one mainly for managing authorities, and the other for local actors.
Additional sources of information
DG REGIO factsheet on CLLD
FARNET transnational seminar: "Implementing CLLD across the ESI Funds": Edinburgh, 8-10 December 2015.