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Linking sustainable practices throughout Europe

[EXP] How to implement rural sustainable development in rural areas : the example of trainings and exchange of practices in local territories by Permanent Centres of Initiatives for the Environment (CPIE).

Rural topic(s): Civic engagement, local governance and dialogue, Development of rural territories

Type: Success story

Date of writing: September 17, 2010

Author(s) of this page: UNCPIE

Organization(s): UNCPIE (Union nationale des Centres Permanents d’Initiatives pour l’Environnement)


CPIE (Permanent Centers for Environmental Initiatives) act to ensure that environmental issues are taken into account in the decisions, projects and behaviors of organisations and individuals on their territory (communities, associations, companies , people).

The National Union of CPIEs manages the CPIE label and guarantees its quality. It ensures the regular updating of the main orientations of the network.



Sustainable development applies to every scale : rural communities have a role to play. Today, rural areas tend to be seen only as areas of agricultural production, as potential future urbanized fields, or as leisure areas. Our network, the CPIE, act in favour of actually living rural areas, in a sustainable development perspective. We have a humanistic vision of the environment, and we believe that rural areas help foster the relation between man and nature. In this respect, we think that farmers should play an active role and increase their links with the rest of the rural population.


Our national organisation works in partnership with many public authorities in charge of environment, agriculture and rural development. Our network is constituted of 80 local non-profit organisations, working mainly in rural areas. All of them carry out local actions to promote local sustainable development in rural areas.

At the national level, we capitalize these local initiatives and spread them. We have regular meetings where local initiatives are presented, on various topics : sustainable tourism, collective sale for farmer’s groups , local dialogue, support for local governments with their local Agenda 21… They are capitalized in a database.

We also organise trainings for our local members, we the aim of reinforcing their ability to advise and accompany rural local governments in the implementation of their sustainable development policies.


With regard to the CAP reform, we believe LEADER programs should take a greater importance in the future programming, and that they should keep a decentralised approach. In general, we feel that the CAP should promote a comprehensive approach of rural development, and that the separation between the first pillar on agriculture and a second one environmental regulation will limit the possibilities for such cross-cutting approach.


Scale of intervention : National

Keywords: Information / Education for sustainable development, organic farming, sustainable agriculture, integrated rural development, protection of the environment, environmental mediation, concertation, territorial dialogue

Places: France

Actors: association, union of associations

Methods: networking, training/capacity-building, meeting, seminar and conference organisation, ouvrage