European conservation leaders gather to boost collective dialogue for a Trans-European Nature Network
NaturaConnect Stakeholder Event in Brussels brings over 70 leading EU policy and governmental decision-makers
Based on a media release by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Brussels, 28 February 2023. More than 70 leading EU policy and governmental decision-makers joined to lay the foundation for a bold new vision for Europe's nature protection in the first NaturaConnect Stakeholder Event this year. Organised by the Horizon Europe NaturaConnect project, the event welcomed a diverse range of influential stakeholders, from country representatives to European Union delegates and international and European conservation organisations. At the heart of the NaturaConnect project is the goal of supporting the creation of a Trans-European Nature Network (TEN-N) of protected and connected areas that conserve at least 30% of land in the EU and benefit both nature and people. The new project is conducted by international partners from research and environmental organisations, led by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU).
By providing technical support and data, tools and knowledge, NaturaConnect can help EU Member States revise their protected area pledges and implement them on the ground. NaturaConnect is also tasked with assisting with the evaluation of the first round of Member States’ protected area pledges under the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. In an ambitious and far-reaching program of measures, the Strategy aims to halt and reverse biodiversity loss in the EU. The event provided participants with the chance to initiate conversations between actors from science, public administration, and non-governmental organizations, to engage in dialogue aimed at determining how to implement the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, including the design and management of the TEN-N.
Neil McIntosh, representing the EUROPARC Federation, welcomed participants to the event, noting that the day would be focused on “building the dialogue necessary to protect and preserve biodiversity, and connect areas, nature and people, through a variety of participatory processes.”
As a representative of NaturaConnect's leading organization, Piero Visconti from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) emphasised NaturaConnect's key role in supporting EU Member States in their TEN-N design.
The participants then had small group discussions on what the specific needs are for the realisation of a coherent and resilient TEN-N. Governance and financial gridlocks were extensively discussed. Among the key takeaways from the session on the future TEN-N were the value of co-creation of knowledge and guidance for TEN-N together with those responsible for planning and implementation and the need for a long-term perspective on area-based conservation planning in Europe, which prioritizes the quality of conserved areas.
"The ample engagement in this event of members from the European Commission, National administrations and NGOs demonstrates great policy expectations and interest in the scientific outputs that the NaturaConnect will offer", said the project's deputy coordinator Néstor Fernández from iDiv and MLU.
Frank Vassen from the European Commission Directorate-General for Environment highlighted the critical role that science, and this project in particular, will have in supporting effective protected area policies in Europe.
NaturaConnect aims to design and develop a blueprint for a truly coherent Trans-European Nature Network (TEN-N) of conserved areas that protect at least 30% of land in the European Union, with at least one-third of it under strict protection. Our project unites universities and research institutes, government bodies and non-governmental organizations, working together with key stakeholders to create targeted knowledge and tools and build the capacity needed to support European Union Member States in realising an ecologically representative, resilient and well-connected network of conserved areas across Europe.