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CEEweb newsletter – 2013 Issue 2

Editorial
Irish presidency issues
Adopted: EU strategy on adaptation to climate change
Deal on new LIFE Programme was made
Natura 2000
Alpine Biogeographic Process launched
NGOs prepare for the designation of Natura 2000 areas in Croatia
Limits to resource use
Innovative tools for limiting resource use
European NGOs discussed quotas for energy use
Tourism and rural development
NGOs work on sustainable tourism development strategy for the Carpathians
Assessing national tourism strategies in CEE
Final push for greener Common Agricultural Policy and national Rural Development Programmes
International conventions
Protecting sharks and nailing coffins of the polar bear
Pan-European efforts to coordinate biodiversity actions
Two more Aarhus centers were opened in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Join and have fun
Launch of the Green-Go Short Film Contest

Dear Reader,

Summer is here (although the weather sometimes does not seem to reflect that) and everybody is getting ready for the well-deserved holiday. Mountains and the seaside are favourite destinations for many of us, and now a new country ‘arrives’ to the European Union that has both of them: Croatia. This country of 4.4 million brings a fantastic natural heritage to the EU and all possible assistance needs for conserving the Croatian nature for future generations. CEEweb kept this in mind, when sharing the Central European experience on the designation of Natura 2000 areas and the preparation of shadow lists at a a meeting of Croatian NGOs earlier this year. You can read more about that in our newsletter bellow.

Croatia’s tourism is mostly built on its natural beauties. Sustainable and biodiversity-friendly tourism is therefore vital for the country. However, not only Croatia, but basically all countries should plan its tourism development strategy in a nature-friendly way. CEEweb evaluated national tourism strategies of Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Ukraine, and Poland in order to find out how these countries consider biodiversity in their tourism development planning. In addition, NGOs participate in preparing sustainable tourism development strategy for the Carpathians. Although both are still ongoing projects, you can find more about them below.

CEEweb’s CITES Working Group reports a great success and a failure from CITES COP, as Parties did not manage to strengthen the protection of polar bears, but five shark species were added into Annex II after a very long battle.

A very important call has been also published in this newsletter: CEEweb has launched again the Green-Go Short Film Contest! Read the details, make your own film and nominate!

In addition, you can read about innovative tools for limiting resource use, which target the root causes of conservation problems, last results of attempting to green the CAP and Rural Development Programmes, problems in Central Europe with direct marketing, a Pan-European effort to co-ordinate biodiversity actions, and other issues.

Enjoy reading CEEweb Newsletter!
On behalf of CEEweb team, I wish you a pleasant summer!

Best wishes,
Matyas Prommer
secretary general
CEEweb

Adopted: EU strategy on adaptation to climate change

The EU strategy on adaptation to climate change was adopted by the Environment Council on June 18, 2013. This places the EU to a leading role globally in formulating coherent adaptation strategy on such large scale.

Released by the Commission Communication on April 16, 2013, the EU strategy on adaptation to climate change has three main objectives: (i) promoting action by Member States by encouraging their own adaptation strategies and providing financial support for their implementation, (ii) better informed decision-making by addressing knowledge gaps and developing online information sources such as Climate-ADAPT and other relevant platforms, and (iii) ‘Climate-proofing’ action at EU level, with special focus on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Cohesion Policy the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), infrastructure, insurance and other financial products.

CEEweb and its member organization welcome the Strategy as they have been focusing on the issue for a couple of years, preparing national level recommendations, lobbying at national governments, organizing capacity building event, raising awareness of local stakeholders and participating in adaptation-related research project.

CEEweb highlights the important, yet often underrated role of biodiversity and ecosystems in adaptation to climate change. Multiple benefits are brought by supporting ecosystem services. Every Member State must adopt the ecosystem-approach in its own strategy. This approach should be used not only in biodiversity protection field, but also in all other sectors in order to achieve sound, sustainable and long-term adaptation in Europe.

Read more >>

Deal on new LIFE Programme was made

The European Parliament, Irish EU Presidency and the European Commission reached a political agreement on the future of the LIFE Programme, the only direct environmental fund of the EU. Only in the very last moment compromises could be found on some contested elements of the LIFE-Regulation.

A final agreement was reached that 25% of the total LIFE budget would go to a new sub-programme on climate change, and at least 55% of the remaining project budget would be be reserved for biodiversity conservation. Depending on future demand this could be increased by an additional 10%. For long, it seemed that the share between biodiversity and other environmental areas would be 50:50, and only pressure from the European Parliament, supported by NGOs ensured that biodiversity is now the primary focus of LIFE.

The EU co-financing rate for LIFE nature conservation projects will be increased from 50% to 60%. For projects addressing priority species and habitats the rate will remain at 75%. NGOs – including CEEweb – supported the position of European Council about lowering the rate of co-financing. In many EU Member States, especially in the Eastern and Southern countries, which host the richest biodiversity in the EU, austerity policies make it harder than ever to mobilise domestic co-financing.

LIFE will become available to the EU’s Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs). These territories, many of which are small islands, hold more endemic and threatened species in total than EU-27 combined and belong to five of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots.

The size of the total LIFE fund however remains unclear, due to on-going negotiations on the details of the EU budget 2014-2020. As NGOs emphasized, LIFE is an excellent programme for saving our species and habitats as well as to demonstrating the added value of the EU to its citizens. However, LIFE cannot make up the failures of other EU funds for our environment if it does not get the budget it deserves.

Alpine Biogeographic Process launched

On June 12–14 CEEweb representatives participated in the preparatory workshop of the Alpine biogeographic region, which took place in Graz, Austria.

The ‘Biogeographic Process’ is an EU level Natura 2000 process that has been initiated in 2011. The process aims to assist Member States in managing Natura 2000 as a coherent ecological network, whilst exchanging experience and best practice, addressing objectives and priorities and enhancing cooperation and synergies. It also focuses on ensuring that habitats also achieve a level of favourable conservation status outside Natura 2000 site boundaries, and on addressing the major threats that occur there.

The workshop included field visits, presentations and group work. During the workshop it became obvious that biogeographic process is an open one and the results of it will depend mainly on bottom up activities of the member states and the NGO sector.

There was a heated discussion on non-intervention forest management and wilderness in the forest working group. Following the discussion, it was proposed to hold a special workshop on this issue in the autumn. Afterwards the next step in the process will be the Alpine Seminar, which will take place on November 25–26, 2013, also in Graz.

A communication platform for the New Biogeographical Process was launched during the Alpine workshop: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/platform/. All materials of the Biogeographical process can be accessed from here >>

Read more >>

NGOs prepare for the designation of Natura 2000 areas in Croatia

CEEweb shared experiences with Croatian NGOs about the civil involvement in designation of Natura 2000. SUNCE, a member of CEEweb organized a workshop at the end of April, in Murter, Croatia. At the meeting the role of NGOs in assisting the government and the Commission during the designation process, in particular in preparing a shadow list was discussed.

Croatia joins the EU on the 1st of July this year. Therefore the country will be establishing the national Natura 2000 network and will have to send the proposed list of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Sites of Community Interest (pSCIs) to the European Commission.

At the workshop, CEEweb experts provided insight about designation procedures and involvement of NGOs through many examples from Central and Eastern Europe. For example, the successful Polish example was presented, where NGOs worked hard to put together a scientifically backed-up shadow list, which helped to achieve that Natura 2000 sites are currently covering 20% of Poland.

CEEweb also provided information about the legal steps of designation, the steps and actors of the biogeographical seminars and the difference of procedures when marine sites are designated.

The meeting increased the efficiency of coordination among the NGOs and advanced the knowledge exchange about Natura 2000 designation among the NGOs in the region. This enhances the possibilities of the Croatian NGOs to contribute to the dynamically developing Natura 2000 network in the EU.

Read more >>

Innovative tools for limiting resource use

In order to make steps towards setting resource use cap, CEEweb together with ANPED and EEB organized a workshop on resource use on June 18, 2013 in Brussels for 50 European experts dealing with resource use policies. The aim of this workshop was to discuss how a resource cap could be designed, and outline challenges and pitfalls. For this purpose, existing proposals were presented and debated. Read the background document of the event that includes three proposed schemes for setting absolute limits for resource use.

“Quotas would not only bring environmental benefits, they would increase social equity as well” – this was one of the statements at the meeting said by Iván Gyulai of Ecological Institute for Sustainable Development, Hungary. We need to set a cap on the use of resources, including all types of raw materials, if we want to effectively bring down consumption in the EU and refit our economy inside its ecological space. Global resource consumption is steeply on the rise, extracting 34 times more material resources now than hundred years ago. Despite several good intents of the European Commission to decrease the use of resources in Europe, we are still increasing the amount of resources we use.

Read more >>

European NGOs discussed quotas for energy use

Twenty European experts of the European Resource Cap Coalition (RCC) discussed how to improve the RCC proposal on non-renewable energy quota scheme on March 1-3, 2013 in Spain. The scheme could be a significant step in implementing social and environmental goals outlined, but not concretised in EU policies.

Participants discussed how to realize the fair distribution of access to energy, while taking into the account the energy embedded in imported/exported goods. They identified tools that could be used for considering “environmental backpack” when designing quotas for European energy use.

The European Resource Cap Coalition (RCC) brings together European organisations advocating for a global resource use reduction, a precondition for sustainability. Partners to the Coalition believe that the absolute reduction shall be achieved for the aim of halting biodiversity loss and maintaining as well as recovering ecosystem services, which underpin human wellbeing. But at the same time resource use reduction shall be realised hand in hand with poverty reduction and building a green economy.

Read more >>

NGOs work on sustainable tourism development strategy for the Carpathians

NGOs from the Carpathians gathered together to discuss the first draft of the strategy for sustainable tourism development in the Carpathian Mountains. The participants also made plans for involvement of other NGOs from the seven Carpathian countries into the preparation of the strategy. The strategy would assure that Carpathian Convention, the international agreement among the Carpathian countries, will support the contribution of tourism to wellbeing of people and nature through specific actions.

The meeting took place in Slovakia on June 12-15, 2013. It was organized in the framework of a project dedicated to the preparation of the Sustainable tourism development strategy. The strategy would assure the implementation of Tourism protocol, which is already adopted under the Carpathian Convention. Representatives from governments, tourism agencies and NGOs of the Carpathian countries will be involved in the development of the strategy, which will be delivered to the next Conference of the Parties to the Carpathian Convention in October 2014.

The project is managed by Ecological Tourism in Europe E.T.E ., and implemented with the participation of CEEweb for Biodiversity (CEEweb), WWF Danube Carpathian Programme (WWF – DCPO), Interim Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention (UNEP – ISCC) and the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas (CNPA).

Read more >>

Assessing national tourism strategies in CEE

CEEweb assessed how five European countries (Bulgaria, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Ukraine) consider biodiversity in their tourism development planning. The assessment was carried out based on „Methodology on the Assessment of National Tourism Development Strategies” developed by CEEweb Sustainable Tourism Working Group. We expect that this analysis will support the future long-term planning of tourism in these countries and will bring mutual benefits for biodiversity and tourism.

Read more >>

Final push for greener Common Agricultural Policy and national Rural Development Programmes

On June 25, 2013 Negotiations on the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2014-2020 among the EU bodies came to an end and the final deal was made. As expected, the greening elements of the proposals have been compromised and watered-down. The green reform has been totally eroded and it became clear that what mattered was not the environment but the profit of agri-food industries. It was said that the future CAP will be greener because the new CAP includes 30% of greening. What was not mentioned, however, that almost everybody can be exempted from the greening (35,5% of EU farmland or 89% of all farmers for Ecological Focus Areas, and 46% of farmland or 94% of all farmers for crop diversification). In addition, the minimum spending for the environment in Pillar 2 was eroded, so these measures are neither going to bring environmental benefits to our rural areas. Overall, the outcomes are very bad for the environment.

Of course, the over-arching CAP is not the whole story: national governments have a lot of flexibility in the design of their Rural Development Programmes (RDPs). Therefore, in addition to lobbying on the CAP itself, the CEEweb RDWG will also work in the second half of 2013 on national lobbying strategies. We will build capacity of the members of RDWG for achieving that the designs of national RDPs integrate sustainable agriculture, support for small-scale farming and streamlining of High Nature Value (HNV) farming.

Read more >>

Protecting sharks and nailing coffins of the polar bear

Five species of sharks get included into protection lists, while protection for polar bear is not improved – report CEEweb representatives from the 16th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

During the CoP, CEEweb CITES WG distributed leaflets with the latest results from the monitoring of the e-commerce in specimens of CITES species in CEE region. The WG focuses on this issue for a couple of years and together with some other NGOs contributed to the establishment of the CITES E-commerce Working Group, which is chaired by the UK. During the CoP, Parties of CITES agreed to give a mandate to the WG to continue their work.

The inclusion of five species of sharks into the Appendix II was among the biggest success of this CoP. Previously, for many years, attempts to include marine species into the CITES appendices were blocked by China and Japan. In addition to sharks two more marine species were added to Appendix II: reef manta ray and giant manta ray. This CoP clearly showed that CITES community is dedicated to provide adequate conservation measures also for marine species.

The biggest failure of this CoP was the rejection of the US proposal for uplisting polar bear from the Appendix II to the Appendix I. Due to climate change, two thirds of the global population of this species may have been extirpated by 2050. Killing of the polar bear for the commercial purposes is an additional limiting factor. The proposal to uplist this species was strongly criticized and opposed by Canada, who has the biggest population of polar bear.

Read more >>

Pan-European efforts to coordinate biodiversity actions

CEEweb took part in the the Sixth Intergovernmental Conference Biodiversity in Europe, where we underlined the need for assessing resource use policies, especially those related to energy and land use. These messages were well received by the audience and they are now worded into the Conference Decision.

The Conference took place on April 15-18, 2013 in Batumi, Georgia. Representatives from 30 countries, the European Commission, NGOs, the private sector, and scientists from the pan-European region participated. The purpose for this gathering was to harmonize political views for reaching the global biodiversity targets adopted in 2010 and enhance cooperation for implementing the Pan-European 2020 Strategy for Biodiversity.

Read more >>

Two more Aarhus centers were opened in Bosnia and Herzegovina

A project for opening “Aarhus Centers for Informing and Participation of the Public in the field of Environment” is being financed by the European Union, and co-financed by OSCE mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Two additional Aarhus Centers were opened in Banja Luka and Tuzla. The project is implemented by CEEweb member NGO “Centre for Environment”. The aim of the Aarhus Centers is to improve the implementation of the Aarhus Convention and mediate between government bodies and communities.

Read more >>

Launch of the Green-Go Short Film Contest

The Green-Go Short Film Contest has been launched again – this year the third time. The organisers would like to invite every amateur and professional filmmaker to join the celebration of the United Nation’s Year of Water Cooperation and the 40th Anniversary of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The Green-Go films will be screened during the 2013 Budapest Water Summit.

There are three contest categories this year:

  • Life in plastic, it’s fantastic? – In this category the organiser team is waiting for short films related to waste problems.
  • Water – the drop of life – This category is for the celebration of the UN’s International Year of Water Cooperation.
  • Stayin’ alive – To raise awareness on the accelerating extinction of species due to the human greed.

The deadline for submissions: September 30, 2013, CET 18:00

More information: www.greengofest.eu