Mainstreaming conservation in Europe’s policy-making
Integration of nature conservation as part of the solution to societal challenges is key to stopping biodiversity loss, and it is very much needed. This is the main outcome of the Conference “Meeting the EU 2020 Biodiversity Targets: Mainstreaming Conservation” organized by the EP Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development on 24 September 2013, in Brussels.
Biodiversity provides a life support system which is essential for our health and well-being, as much as for our economy. The more than 150 delegates who participated in the event agreed on the urgent need for mainstreaming biodiversity conservation into other sectors of society and for greater collaboration between conservationists and other practitioners and experts. Participants also stressed that there is need to better value natural capital.
The conference’s main objective was to bring together different representatives of society (decision-makers, administrators, civil society and business) to present and discuss the contributions of various actors to achieving the EU Biodiversity Targets which call for the halting of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and for the restoration of degraded ecosystems by 2020.
Four thematic sessions focused on aspects where collaboration between various stakeholders can be enhanced.
The first session focused on the European Commission’s Strategy on Green Infrastructure, released earlier this year. Green Infrastructure, such as green bridges connecting natural areas, urban parks and green roofs, can offer multiple benefits to society (economic but also for well-being and health) while protecting nature. It was underlined that policies on green infrastructure present a real opportunity for mainstreaming the conservation of nature with other sectors, such as urban and landscape architecture and tourism operators.
The second session highlighted the need for greater connection between policy-makers and scientist and researchers, to ensure that policy-making is based on the latest scientific knowledge. A number of research results and examples on how to improve such dialogue by establishing science-policy interfaces were presented, also in light of the soon-to-be-launched European Commission’s funding for research “Horizon 2020”. Speakers underlined the need for developing innovative nature-based solutions which can encourage multiple stakeholders to contribute to nature conservation while presenting economic opportunities.
In the third session, several examples of business engagement and cooperation platforms, such IUCN’s Leaders for Nature, were showcased and discussed. It was noted that working with the private sector is essential to make a difference for biodiversity. The examples shown at the event suggest that businesses are more and more interested in contributing to biodiversity conservation and that some are taking action to this end. Biodiversity needs to be a business concern and some companies have understood this. However, there is still work to be done to ensure that business commitments are turned into positive action, also at a wider scale.
Integrating biodiversity measures into agricultural practices was the theme of the last session of the conference. It was recognized that some good progress has been done in Europe in the cooperation between farmers and conservationists. However, some participants highlighted that although the spirit of the recent Common Agricultural Policy’s reform is “green”, there are elements to be strengthened and clarified. The reform leaves flexibility for Member States and it is hoped that this will not result into inaction.
More information and presentations here.