Event report: Estonia Rural Parliament

people holding flags at Estonia Rural Parliament
Report by Emma Cooper, Scottish Rural Action

In this event report, Emma Cooper National Coordinator at Scottish Rural Action tells us about the Estonia Rural Parliament. 

Scottish Rural Action is a non-profit, apolitical organisation which is completely independent of government. They are a company formed with the dual purpose of developing and organising Scotland’s Rural Parliament and supporting the development of a rural movement.

Where: Vana-Võidu, Viljandi County, Estonia

When: 3rd – 7th August

What was the event about and why did you attend?

The Estonia Rural Parliament was the second formed, after Sweden, and has now been active for 21 years. That made this the twelfth Rural Parliament held, as they take place every two years like ours, and a good example of how a well-established rural movement celebrates its successes and discusses its challenges. I was keen to learn a bit about the event structure, but more about the rural movement that sits behind the event.

What were the key points that you took from the event?

The celebratory elements of the event and showcasing of regional projects were really inspiring and positive. I identified a number of practical and logistical changes I will make to the Scottish Rural Parliament as a result.

Whilst there was excellent representation from politicians at the event, they did not give the sense that they understood rural communities or particularly valued them. It was clear that even after 21 years of a rural movement that is viewed as highly successful both within Estonia and internationally, there was still some way to go. In their Manifesto is an ask that the government determine which ministry is responsible for rural development. This uncertainty causes serious issues for them and perhaps contributes to the under-valuing and poor understanding of rural communities. This is an ongoing issue for them that I am keen for Scotland to avoid.

What was the best thing about the event?

The sense of celebration and community; in part I felt this was because the event felt very ‘home-made’. The food was basic, the venue wasn’t ideal but they had made do and it felt more like everyone had ‘chipped-in’ to make it work.

I also made better direct connections with the European Rural Parliament.

Is there anything you will do as a result of attending the event?

  • Change the format of the Scottish Rural Parliament to incorporate some of the positive elements of the event
  • Increase our engagement with the European Rural Parliament

Where can we find out more?

I have written a blog about the event: https://www.scottishruralparliament.org.uk/3-things-estonia/

Event information including their programme and Manifesto is available here: https://kodukant.ee/en/rural-parliament/