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Development Association Sepra

Sepra is an association in Southern Kymenlaakso whose area includes Pyhtaa, Miehikkälä and Virolahti municipalities and towns of Hamina and Kotka.

Due to Sepra area’s location the main interest in international cooperation is for Estonia, in particular northern parts of the country that are situated south of Sepra area across the Baltic Sea. The cooperation that started at the beginning of the millennium with the Estonian Kodukant has along the way expanded to area’s action groups, as well as other actors in and out of southern and western parts of Estonian. MAIN COOPERATION partner is Arenduskoda on the northern part of Estonia.

With Interreg IVA program Sepra has been involved in the process of creating a sustainable community-based tourism development tool COMCOT, in cooperation with Tartu Rural University and Seinäjoki Ruralia Institute. Võrtsjärv area that has been partner in the cooperation has also a Fishery Local Action Group so cooperation is quite diverse and Sepra has very large networks in Estonia.

As Sepra area is situated in Russian border, the interest to cooperation with Russians is natural. It has been challenging to start cooperation with nearby Vyborg and St. Petersburg areas but cooperation has started well with Lake Ladoga area in Russian Carelia. Sepra has been acting as an expert at the Ruralia Institute's activities in Ladoga, where three "local initiative groups" were established. With one of these pilot LIGs Sepra has implemented a Leader-funded youth project with two Estonian LAGs as partners.

Through International operations local development will gain added value through new experiences and transferred good practices. Expectations are quite high of the most recently started Green care cooperation with Sardinia. In case the cooperation is successful this topic will be further developed in future with other countries too.

To transfer good experience and know-how is a two-way flow and Sepra is prepared, in the limits of its resources to share expertise even to outside EU areas if there is interest to Leader-method and local development.

Area description

Area is situated 120km east of capital Helsinki reaching the Finnish- Russian border in the east, following the coast of Baltic Sea.Population of the area is 87000 out of whom half live on rural areas. Sepra is one of the 54 Finnish Leader Local Action Groups, LAGs and one of the nine Fishery Local Action Groups, FLAGs. Sepra also operates in the city center of Kotka and is therefore also an ‘urban LAG’.

Strategic objective & vision

Strategic Objective of is to by respecting environment and increasing business-like thinking to create small scale livelihood and to find new ways of employment and thus secure services and create new ones. The aspect of inter-regional and transnational cooperation attracts young people to join to development workand to return into the area and helps immigrants to integrate into the communities.

Area is developed based on local needs, so that the history, the location and the natural environment is utilized in an innovative and wide-ranging source of vitality. Vision 2020 for TN cooperation is that through international cooperation a group of active young people have been involved in development activities who have networks of different countries. Tourism and service industries have benefitted of cooperation that has created new services and products linked to border areas history through Baltic Sea.

TN experience
  • COMCOT- An innovative tool for improving the competitiveness of community based
    tourism (Central Baltic Interreg IV A 2007-2013)

  • FinEstRus – a youth cooperation project between Leader LAGs in Finland and Estonia with
    a NGO in Russia (2012-2013)

  • Ladoga Initiative – consultant in University of Helsinki, Ruralia institute Leader piloting
    project in Russian Ladoga Area

  • Member in EC Focus Group 4 – the design and implementation of the local development
    strategy) 2011-2012

  • Finnish representative of ELARD (European Leader Association for Rural Development) since 2016

  • Finnish representative in Commission Leader/CLLD subgroup

  • SEIC – sustainable entrepreneurship in countryside TN project with Estonian and Latvian LAGs since 2016