EP Intergroup CCBSDNATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS: INNOVATION POTENTIAL FOR SMART, SUSTAINABLE & INCLUSIVE GROWTH IN EUROPE
Tuesday, 30th of September 2014, 10:00/17:00
ASP 3G2, European Parliament, Brussels
“The obstacle is the path”
- P.Y. Cousteau, President of Cousteau Divers -
On Tuesday 30 September 2014, the European Parliament Intergroup on “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development”, in collaboration with the European Commission and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), organised a full day conference entitled: “Nature-Based Solutions: Innovation potential for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth in Europe.”
Bringing together 140 participants including representatives from the European Institutions, local and regional authorities, research institutes, NGOs and International organisations, as well as private sector representatives, this conference aimed at promoting the solutions that nature can offer in tackling major challenges, such as climate change and natural disasters, in ensuring food security to an increasing population, in protecting the health of European citizens, and the conservation of biodiversity in the EU and at the global level.
The speakers, panellists and participants in the audience all agreed that using nature to tackle some of the most pressing challenges of our time can be cost-effective, can help safeguard the environment and halt biodiversity loss, and can provide numerous economic and social benefits by creating jobs and growth and by stimulating innovation.
Pierre-Yves Cousteau, son of Jacques Cousteau and President of Cousteau Divers, called attention on the rapid degradation of the natural environment, and especially the marine environment, which is starting to have serious social impacts, such as the rise of immigration connected to environmental issues. Mr. Cousteau made the case that marine species are part of a unique life-support system and that the collapse of marine ecosystems would cause the loss of livelihoods. Solutions, he argued, need to come top down from international institutions and bottom up from civil society: “We need to further empower citizens, and especially young entrepreneurs who are already developing interesting technological innovations and solutions.”
In his speech, Wolfgang Burtscher, Deputy Director-General in DG Research and Innovation, highlighted the economic opportunities offered by nature: “Nature-Based Solutions are robust, comprehensive, cost-effective and locally embedded solutions that can help maintain our resources.” Mr. Burtscher called for more research and innovation on nature-based solutions to help address multiple societal challenges and increase business opportunities and growth as part of the Horizon 2020 framework. Importantly, he stressed the need to involve all stakeholders and interested partners in finding these solutions.
“Nature-Based Solutions are not the silver bullet but are underused at the moment,” stated Luc Bas, Director of IUCN EU Representative Office. “We need to get better at gathering data and at communicating the benefits of nature-based solutions; we need to make the case that these are more cost-effective than other solutions.” Mr. Bas argued that mapping and assessment of ecosystem services is a crucial element of action and an urgent one, not only at national level but also at local and regional level for governments to assess the benefits and identify priorities for investment.
This call was echoed by Aldo Ravazzi Douvan of the Italian Ministry of Environment who argued that ways must be found in order to impact on decision-makers.
Paola Albrito, Head of Regional Office for Europe, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, stressed, like her fellow panellists, the cost-effectiveness rational of investing in preventive measures rather than more expensive response measures. Europe has been at the forefront of discussions on research and innovation, she argued: yet, the gap remains on how to translate scientific research into measures and policies that need to be adopted by politicians.
Panellists in the afternoon sessions moderated by Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent for The Guardian, also underscored the need to improve communication to global, regional and local policy-makers, stressing the need to work further on quantifying the economic value of ecosystems and on using figures to better communicate the numerous benefits of nature-based solutions. “It is about talking to people with a language that they understand,” summarised Mrs. Harvey.
At the end of a fruitful day of debates, Kurt Vandenberghe, Director in DG Research and Innovation, concluded that this event marked the start of a multi-stakeholder dialogue that will seek to put nature-based solutions on the political agenda, and cooperation for co-designing solutions and bringing them to the market. He underlined the need to scale up nature-based solutions to EU and international level turning the environment into a source for green growth and more jobs capitalising on existing knowledge and experiences.READ IUCN'S NEWS STORY
Documents of the meeting