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8 June 2017

Stories from citizens – Natura 2000

With strong biodiversity policies and integration of nature-based solutions into other sectors, such as agriculture, water, health and urban planning, nature can benefit people and the economy immensely. Protected Natura 2000 sites offer various opportunities for business development, cooperation between sectors, new job openings and other advantages for communities. Friends of Natura 2000 from Czech Republic, Romania, Italy and Belgium gathered yesterday in a heart of Brussels to share their success stories at the “How can people and the economy benefit from nature? Stories from citizens” conference gathering more than 50 participants from non-governmental sector, the European institutions, academia.

Nature/people/economy symbiosis cases creating flourishing societies and economies presented at the conference provided strong arguments for implementing more innovative, nature-based solutions that can address contemporary social and economic challenges in the European Union.

“Meeting people that are working on the ground with the policies that I work with on the EU level always provides me with new ideas, thoughts and inspiration. This event was unique as we had a chance to hear successful stories from the citizens that thought outside of the box and were creative enough to make the best use of environment they live, not only without harming it, but by taking a step further and helping it. Now, I am even more certain that cooperation between nature and people brings amazing effects.” – says Monika Kotulak, Natura 2000 and Water Policy Officer, CEEweb for Biodiversity.

CEEweb for Biodiversity presented the results of the “What is your favorite gift from nature?” contest that targeted Members of the European Parliament, asking them to choose the preferred ecosystem services. Postcards with images of nutrition (tasting nature), clean air (Take a Deep Breath), clean water (Thirst for Life), medicine (The Healing Power), raw materials (In a Raw), recreation opportunities (Moving Forward), pest and disease control (On a Patrol), pollination and seed dispersal (No Bees? No Food, No Humans), flood and storm protection (To Serve and to Protect), climate regulation (Keeps it Cool), pollution and toxic substances control (Detox for our Planet) and opportunities for spiritual interactions (The Sixth Dimension) were distributed with a call for dissemination among individuals that are not involved in an environmental sector. Eurosite introduced the Natura 2000 branding campaign stressing the benefits Natura 2000 can provide to local economies, aiming to trigger new partnerships between site managers, farmers and local businesses, and improve perceptions of and increase support for the Natura 2000 network.

The conference ended with a surprise concert by Katy Carr, a British singer and our Friend of Natura 2000 and with tasting delicious products from protected areas.

The conference is organised by CEEweb for Biodiversity, Eurosite and IUCN, supported by the European Commission and hosted by the Members of the European Parliament from Hungary Mr. Benedek Javor, Czech Republic Mr. Pavel Poc and Finland Ms. Sirpa Pietikäinen.

Find out more about what our panelists and presenters have said and have a look at conference’s atmosphere on our Twitter profile @CEEwebEurope.