3 questions to... Luc Bas
EP Intergroup Newsletter June 2013:
3 questions to... Luc Bas, Director of the IUCN European Union Representative Office in Brussels
You have recently become the new Director of the IUCN office in Brussels. What is your vision for IUCNís work in Brussels?
IUCN unites governments and non-governmental organizations to achieve the joint mission of building a just world that values and conserves nature. The European Union is a major player in the global political and economic agenda and often an inspiration for other regionsí policies. Our mission in Brussels is to feed IUCNís vast international knowledge and expertise into EU policy-making based on the enormous network of over 1,200 members and membersí committees, six expert commissions and specialist groups, regional and national secretariat offices, and national committees in Europe and globally.IUCN is a source and repository of the most complete, up-to-date and reliable information on nature conservation and on the health of our environment. Our role is to provide this scientific knowledge to EU policy-makers for informed decision-making. The IUCN Brussels office will increasingly become a science-policy hub linking global and European knowledge to EU policy and practice.
What will be the key priorities in your work on EU policies?
IUCN will continue to collaborate closely with all EU Institutions and its Member States. We will no doubt continue our engagement with the Parliament. A good example is the BEST initiative for EU overseas territories, which was initiated by the Parliament after long advocacy by IUCN and partners. The event which we recently co-hosted on the issue of invasive alien species showcases another example of activities in which we will engage more in the future. We will further strengthen our work with the Environment Committee and our work with the Intergroup.
What is new is that we will increasingly focus our efforts on the MEPs who are not sufficiently convinced of the importance of conserving nature and we will do so in collaboration with those who are already well informed and see both the intrinsic and economic value of nature and sustainable solutions to todayís global development challenges.
IUCN has a long-standing and successful cooperation with the European Commission, which remains the cornerstone of our science-based contribution to the EU agenda setting. This involves currently the environment, climate, development and marine directorates. We will build on these collaborations to strengthen our relations with other DGs, including on regional policy, industry and research, to help answer future knowledge needs.
IUCN will intensify its collaboration with the European Council and the Permanent Representations of the Member States to re-emphasize our intergovernmental character. Many of the EU Member States are government members of IUCN (17 out of 27 EU Member States have state membership with IUCN and others are members through national government agencies). We will use IUCNís special intergovernmental status in the EU to better connect NGO constituencies with the government members.
An important IUCN statutory instrument are the National Committees which are established in the Member States to coordinate national member actions and input into IUCNís work. The Brussels office will closely collaborate with the National Committees on EU policy-making and aims to facilitate capacity building were needed.Lastly, we aim to better connect the climate, biodiversity and development NGO communities as they still seem to be working too much in isolation.
Recent data on biodiversity, such as the IUCN fact sheets on EU species, continue to show alarming trends. How in your view can biodiversity conservation get higher on the agenda?
Biodiversity is still declining and there is urgent need for action. The EU with its EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 has set ambitious targets aiming to halt the loss of biodiversity. EU Member States need to join forces to fully implement this Strategy. Yet, in my view, there is need for all actors to contribute to these efforts. The private sector has a major role to play: businesses are more and more understanding that protecting nature is protecting their future assets. Initiatives such as the EU Business and Biodiversity Platform, are important tools to bring the private sector together and raise awareness of the economic benefits which the conservation of nature and the use of nature-based solutions can bring. The recent publication by the Commission on the economic benefits of Natura 2000 is a great tool to show this, but we have to build on these findings to further evaluate natural capital. Most of all we need to smartly communicate nature benefits to attract more mainstream media.
In combination with the reinforced cooperation with the private sector, I think that strengthening the connections between the biodiversity agenda and the climate change agenda is extremely important and more can be done at EU level to this end. A recent study by IUCN has revealed that many of the worldís species which are highly affected by climate change are not included as priorities in conservation actions. This requires prompt action to coordinate conservation and climate change policies and their implementation. We donít have detailed results on Europe yet, but it is likely that many European species threatened by climate change are not prioritized yet. This may need to be reflected in the EU StrategyonAdaptationtoClimate Change.Lastly, and without any doubt, IUCN will contribute to feed in scientific and policy arguments for a better inclusion of the conservation element in those EU policies which have an immediate impact on nature such as the CAP, Integrated Maritime Policy, development and cooperation policies.