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CEEweb Newsletter – 2015 Issue 1

idb-2015-logo-en-webEditorial

1 million children in mines – care to read about it?

CEEweb proudly presents the 5th Green-Go International Short Film Contest

Building BlueGreen Infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe

Small scale for Serbia – but big steps for agriculture

Green Infrastructure and valuing nature on the rise?

Managing our Natura 2000 sites more successfully

Editorial

Dear Reader,

Today, on 22nd May we celebrate biodiversity – the diversity of life forms on the Earth. International Day for Biological Diversity was sanctioned by the United Nations to emphasize the importance of biodiversity’s quintessential contribution to human well being as well as the fragility of this life support system, as we are losing its building blocks at the speed of 50 species going extinct every day.

We do celebrate this day – in fact we try to celebrate it throughout the year – but do others do, too? Is the concept of biodiversity mainstreamed to other sectors and policies? Are effective tools in place to halt overconsumption and other structural forces that cause biodiversity loss and with it the gradual deterioration of our society? Is environmental protection regarded as a sufficient priority in the European Union, supposedly the world’s forefront of environmentalism? Does the public understand the importance of biodiversity? And do those who do, try to change their environmentally-harmful behaviour?

Sadly, we know the answers to all of these questions. But asking such questions is the first step to act – awareness is a necessary precondition to behavioural change. With CEEweb’s new ecosystem service assessment and mapping project in Romania and our CEE wetland restoration and research we aim to explore how ecosystem services contribute to our economy and society. With boosting Green Infrastructure, we aim to win over local authorities, architects and water managers for nature-based solutions. With our Stop Mad Mining campaign and the 5th Green-Go Short Film Contest, we aim for environmental and societal issues to become cross-cutting themes taken into consideration by businesses and policy makers as well as individual consumers.

And to reply to the question above – are we trying to change our behaviour? are we doing our best? Well, giving up my car was painful enough – but calmed my consciousness and indeed is better for my wallet, too.

Wish you all a very green International Biodiversity Day!

Agnes Zolyomi
General Secretary of CEEweb for Biodiversity

1 million children in mines – care to read about it?
Launch of the Stop Mad Mining campaign to contribute to the European Year of Development 2015

One million children and other workers in bad conditions work to provide us with cheap gold, silver and other minerals for our smart phones and computers. To raise awareness on this and our consumption patterns, the Stop Mad Mining campaign was launched on 27th March by CEEweb and its 12 partners. Our main aim is to promote sustainable and globally just production and consumption of raw materials with the support of the public, companies and politicians, and to reduce raw material consumption and phase out non-renewable energy use. One of the campaign’s core demand is to fully consider human rights and environmental standards in the extraction and use of raw materials through the whole value chain in all decisions, let these be made by companies, politicians or consumers. Read more about the campaign here.

CEEweb proudly presents the 5th Green-Go International Short Film Contest

1 million child works in mines, 40% of our food ends up in the rubbish, every 3rd bird in Europe is in danger. Scary facts? Would you like to do something about it so we have better policies and more targeted actions? Here is your chance! CEEweb and its partners launched for the 5th time the Green-Go short film contest focusing on overconsumption, European nature and the real price of our raw materials. With our renowned contest, we aim to reach millions to act against such social and environmental problems and change our attitudes. If you like to join to our efforts and find more information including prices, deadlines and requirements, visit Green-Go’s website here.

Building BlueGreen Infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe

40% of our wetlands are in bad condition. 37% of European freshwater fish species are threatened. We are permitting the deterioration of valuable habitats, despite knowing that ecosystem services such as climate change adaptation, flood mitigation, carbon sequestration or summer recreation are really priceless. To save and recognise the importance of wetlands, CEEweb for Biodiversity, together with its partners Milvus Group Romania, BROZ Slovakia and Estonian Fund for Nature has launched the project “Building BlueGreen infrastructure in Central- Eastern Europe: from pilot projects to regional action” supported by the Michael Otto Foundation.

The project aims to combine practical wetland restoration in Slovakia, Romania and Estonia with measuring the accompanying change in ecosystem services and use this information to advocate for meeting the Biodiversity Strategy restoration commitments. CEEweb wants to ensure that local, site-level action is replicated and scaled up to the regional level and restored wetlands become part of a wider BlueGreen Infrastructure Network in CEE.

To draw further attention to the importance of wetland services, BlueGreen Infrastructure and Natura 2000 wetlands sites, CEEweb will focus its renowned CEEweb Academy around those topics. The event will be held on 6-7th October 2015, in Budapest and involve Europe-wide wetland experts. Read more about the project and event here.

Small scale for Serbia – but big steps for agriculture

In Serbia there are 3 million hectares of arable land and 76% of farms are under 5ha of which 95% are located on private land. Small scale farmers and trending organic farmers are all eager to find out more about how it will be once they join the European Union within some years. To aid experience exchange, CEEweb together with its partners from Serbia, namely Young Researchers of Serbia and Eko-Centar, as well as its partners from the Visegrad countries, Juniperia, Daphne – Institute of Applied Ecology and Naturalists Club Poland  has launched a project on experience sharing and capacity building about small-scale farming. The general objective of the project is to place small scale family farms at the centre of food security, local economy and environmental protection in rural Emerald communities in Serbia. The project will thus contribute to social, economic and environmental objectives at the same time. After the kick-off conference, the on-going three trainings and field trip to Slovakia and the Czech Republic, we expect that Serbian stakeholders are fully equipped with knowledge on legislation, cooperation options and networking. Read more about the project here.

Green Infrastructure and valuing nature on the rise?

This spring, many eyes seem to be on Green Infrastructure (GI), nature-based solutions and valuing nature. We are certainly contributing to the hype. CEEweb and ECNC have just published a Green Infrastructure Training Manual for local authorities, NGOs and trainers all eager to find out more about how nature works for us and how investing in nature can become our life insurance. We also held a presentation on stakeholder involvement at the “Green Infrastructure: a European Success Story” conference organized by the EC, CoR and EESC in Brussels, and a presentation on Green Infrastructure financing at Green City’s conference at Construma, the international architecture exhibition in Budapest.

CEEweb also joined the EIP Water Action Group “NatureWAT – Nature-based technologies for innovation in water management”. Led by Catalonian Technical University of Barcelona, the group comprises 12 members of universities and technology centres, water users, technology companies and promoters. The main goal is to aggregate and consolidate the sector of nature-based technologies (green infrastructures) and to define innovative marketable technologies addressing water challenges related to ecosystem services. We also launched two projects in relation to Green Infrastructure and ecosystem valuation. With our BlueGreen Infrastructure Michael Otto Project we do not merely wish to restore wetlands CEE-wide, but plunge into how wetland ecosystem services contribute to socio-economic wellbeing. In the frames of another project, we are working on mapping ecosystem services in three Romanian Natura 2000 sites next to river Niraj together with Milvus Group Romania and the Hungarian Academy of Science. Should you like to read more about our latest GI-related developments, join our LinkedIn group and read more here.

Managing our Natura 2000 sites more successfully

There is still a lot to improve if we are to reach our targets to save European biodiversity. According to the new Article 17 reporting x sites are still in unfavourable conservation state. The new biogeographical process can largely contribute to experience exchange, networking as well as boosting commitments – and this is certainly what the new consortium will be aiming for. Together with the lead partner, ECNC–European Centre for Nature Conservation as well as Eurosite, the EUROPARC Federation, the European Landowners’ Organization (ELO) and ILE-SAS, CEEweb for Biodiversity will support the Natura 2000 biogeographical process on management.

Our major task is the contribution to the Continental, Pannonian, Steppic & Black Sea Biogeographical Kick-off Seminar which will take place in Luxembourg from 29th June to 1st July 2015 as well as exploring how to improve the management of wetlands and grasslands within the frame of two Natura 2000 networking events scheduled to take place in the autumn. You can read more about the process here.