What is a Rural Parliament?
A Rural Parliament is an event and a process that provides opportunities for people with an interest in rural communities to share ideas, consider issues and debate solutions. Rural Parliaments allow people and decision makers to work together on priority issues to develop new and creative solutions. They strengthen the voice of rural communities and help them to influence the decisions that affect them. Their success in Europe over the last 20 years has inspired us to initiate a Rural Parliament in Scotland.
When and where will it take place?
Rural Parliaments usually take place on a two year cycle, with the main Rural Parliament event taking place every second year and in a different location each time. In between the main events, there is a process of involvement and debate taking place in communities that helps to set the agenda for the next Rural Parliament.
The first national Rural Parliament took place on the 6th-8th November 2014 in Oban, and the second meeting of the Rural Parliament was held in Brechin, Angus from 6th-8th October 2016.
Can I be a member of the Scottish Rural Parliament?
You can become a member of Scottish Rural Action which is the body responsible for the Scottish Rural Parliament. More details are available here: Membership
Members can be national organisations, community organisations (those with a local or regional remit) or individuals. Associate membership is also available for public bodies, juniors (under 16) and others. It is free to become a member.
How do I become a Director of Scottish Rural Action?
How else can I get involved?
Become a member: Membership
Become a volunteer: Volunteers
Attend an event: Events
There are also many other ways to get involved in the Rural Parliament over the next year, from joining a Working Group, being a guest blogger, taking part in Twitter debates and meeting us at events.
Check out our Get Involved page for more details of how to get involved over the forthcoming year.
Why does Scotland need one?
By bringing people together from across rural Scotland we are creating a unique opportunity for them to collaborate and to speak collectively to decision makers. This gives a stronger voice in shaping policy and influencing major decisions which affect Scotland’s rural communities.
At the moment rural affairs tend to be dealt with according to the geographic area e.g. Highlands, or the public policy area e.g. health, they seem best to fit with. Bringing these geographic and policy areas together gives us a chance to have a fresh look at how we can develop creative solutions to the challenges that are common across rural Scotland.
The Rural Parliament is a form of participative democracy which brings people together on an interest basis and encourages detailed consideration of issues. This is complementary to representative democracy where people vote for a person or political party to represent them.
Rural Parliaments have been successful in other parts of Europe and there is now a European Rural Parliament which the Scottish Rural Parliament will be able to work with, giving rural Scotland a stronger voice at a European level too.
How do you know it will make any difference?
We know that Rural Parliaments have been successful in other parts of Europe. We know that the Scottish Government wants to listen and they are the primary funder of the project. However, it is up to us, as people who live in and have an interest in rural Scotland, to make the Rural Parliament successful by participating as fully as we are able to. To see the speeches and reports from the 2014 Scottish Rural Parliament click here: Rural Parliament 2014 and to see them from the 2016 Scottish Rural Parliament click here: Rural Parliament 2016
What is the role of the Scottish Government?
To support and listen to the Rural Parliament. They are the primary funder of the Rural Parliament this year and keen to see if this initiative, which has been so successful in other European countries, can benefit people here too. There was a good Ministerial presence at the event in Oban.
However the board of Directors are independent of Scottish Government and the Rural Parliament itself has no political affiliation. The Scottish Rural Parliament discussed issues chosen by the people living in rural Scotland and did not promote any viewpoint other than that agreed by the people of rural Scotland.
How many people live in rural Scotland?
Around one million people which is approximately 20% of the population of Scotland. Around 95% of the Scotland’s land mass is rural.
What is the Advisory Forum?
The Scottish Rural Parliament’s Advisory Forum is a collective of bodies with (predominantly) a national remit and are clear stakeholders in rural Scotland with a collective membership of thousands of rural citizens.
The remit of the Advisory Forum, as agreed by the Management Group is as follows:
- Provide advice and act as a sounding board to Scottish Rural Action on the implementation of the Rural Parliament
- Advise on specific interests and issues related to the Rural Parliament
- Ensure inclusivity and a broad spread of rural interests in the Rural Parliament process
- Provide connection and links into the relevant interest groups and stakeholders
- Build interest and assist in disseminating and gathering information to/ from rural stakeholders
- Support implementation in various ways through their own organisations and networks
- Contribute to the evaluation of the inaugural Rural Parliament
Click on the link for details of each of the Advisory Forum Members