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CEEweb Newsletter – 2014 Issue 1



Upcoming events

Awards and occasions to celebrate 20 years of CEEweb

Reading corner

Don’t miss this – get to know some CEEweb members


CEEweb has been working and contributing to the conservation of our natural heritage in Central and Eastern Europe for two decades now. We built a network of over 60 NGOs in 20 countries that contributed to the development of major national, regional, EU and international biodiversity and environmental policies and processes with the aim to save species, diverse landscapes and rich ecosystems through the promotion of sustainable development.

In CEEweb, we believe that our 20 years in policy and on the field helped majorly the conservation work in Central and Eastern Europe. For example we have contributed to the development of the Natura 2000 biogeographic seminars through aiding networking and experience exchange in management, we have advocated for sustainable development policies, we have initiated unique and pro-active policies in the field of resource use, and we have supported the creation and implementation of the Biodiversity Strategy 2020. We are planning to continue these works at an even more accelerated rate as you could read below. We join forces with others to contribute to the follow up of the biogeographic seminars in the Alpine region and to get prepared for the joint Continental/Pannonian/Steppic and Black Sea one. We celebrated the Green Week with our Satellite event in Budapest to show sustainable resource use options for businesses. We contribute to the development of Carpathian Convention’s Sustainable Tourism Strategy. Furthermore, as the new RDPs will be kicking in soon, in collaboration with other NGOs, we aim to ensure that green measures will be implemented.

Our recent activities as well as the results of the past 20 years showcase the usefulness of a Central Eastern European biodiversity network and call for even further actions, collaboration and of course celebration. I would therefore like to invite all readers to celebrate this annum with us and together contribute further to nature conservation.

Yours sincerely,
Ágnes Zólyomi
Secretary General

Advocating for limited, but fair energy use

Researchers say that planetary boundaries, most prominently in the field of biodiversity and global warming have already been exceeded. There is also strong evidence for tipping points to exist for ocean acidification, the phosphorous cycle, and stratospheric ozone depletion. At CEEweb we think we know what could be done in the field of energy use that could revert these worrying changes.

CEEweb contributed with a well-received position paper about energy use limitations to the Thematic Debate of the General Assembly of the United Nations. The session of 18-19 February focused on “Water, Sanitation and Sustainable Energy in the Post-2015 Development Agenda”.

Fundamental changes in international policy responses are urgently needed to address the current intertwined crises, which are driven by the reliance on fossil fuels to power economic growth. The intergovernmental discussion on formulating Sustainable Development Goals provides a unique opportunity to make the necessary change happen. In this process, CEEweb is advocating for energy use limitation to be put in place worldwide, while ensuring access to sufficient energy in the “Global South”. This would lead to an economic and social transformation from fossil fuel-based system with unequal access to resources towards a sustainable and just world, where everyone has a limited, but fair share of the energy the Earth can provide.


Mainstreaming biodiversity into the Sustainable Development Goals

Twenty experts met in Berlin in January to discuss how nature conservation concerns can be embedded in the Millenium Development Goals. The Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015 influence where political will and funding is directed. Sustainable Development Goals set by Rio+ conference is yet another influential political commitment. The integration of these two initiatives is being discussed and the extent to which environmental dimension will be present in the Post-2015 Agenda will shape the future of our planet.

At the workshop representatives from civil society, the German government and scientific community participated. They exchanged perspectives on possible ways to integrate developmentand environment when formulating the Post-2015 agenda, so that ecosystems get conserved and human livelihoods are sustained at the same time. CEEweb emphasized the role natural environment plays in enhancing well-being of all, and revealed the pros and cons of formulating separate goals on biodiversity as well as of mainstreaming it throughout all Sustainable Development Goals.


Biogeographic seminar preparations slowly taking up 

The first Continental, Pannonian, Black Sea and Steppic biogeographic seminar is expected to take place at the end of 2014 and cover all four regions together. Stefan Avramov of Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation on behalf of CEEweb participated in the first seminar Steering Committee meeting on March 5, 2014 in Brussels. In the meeting it became clear that no country has volunteered to host and lead the event yet. Most participants were delegated by CEE countries, while Western European Member States who share most of the continental biogeographic region were largely missing.

The meeting clarified a number of practical questions as regards to the organisation of the event while the final set up of the meeting is still to be decided. The European Commission is about to publish the final pre-scoping document that is the main background document for the seminar, including comments from CEEweb. We will continue collecting NGO input and recommendations to the seminar as well as coordinate NGO participation. Stefan Avramov said: “NGOs want the seminar to deliver more tangible results towards the improved management of Natura 2000 sites and not to be a simple expert forum. For example we would like to see habitat action plans for priority habitats of the region being drawn up.”

To contribute to the success of the biogeographic process, CEEweb for Biodiversity will organize a workshop in September to follow up on the outcomes of the Alpine process as well as to provide input to the Continental Pannonian, Black Sea and Steppic biogeographic seminar.

Read more>>

CEEweb’s member wins the EC’s Natura 2000 Award

This year the European Commission has launched a new Natura 2000 Award. The first award ceremony honored five site managers, three of the five are from Central and Eastern Europe.

The winner in Socio-Economic Benefits category was Fundatia Adept, CEEweb’s member, with its project in Sighișoara-Târnava Mare, Romania. The project enables farmers to make a better living by working sustainably on high nature value farmland, while also preserving a unique landscape with rich biodiversity. Thanks to the project, 2300 farming families in the region generate income of more than €2.5 million annually, and similar ideas are now being applied in other parts of Romania.

Natura 2000 is a European network of 27 000 protected sites covering 18 percent of the EU’s area and 4 percent of its marine territory. Celebration and promotion of successful management and conservation of these sites can spread the best practices. For these very reasons, European Commission created the Natura 2000 Award. The first ceremony of the Award was held on 21st May, the European Natura 2000 day, in Brussels. The Award recognizes excellence in five categories: Conservation, Socio-Economic Benefits, Communication, Reconciling Interests/Perceptions, and Networking and Cross-Border Cooperation.


International Biodiversity Day and related events

On 22-24 May we celebrated the International Day of Biodiversity in three countries with three events in Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia. In Hungary we organized a day to raise attention on the importance of biodiversity with interesting presentations on pollination, forests, sustainable agriculture and flood protection. At the end of the day, we celebrated the occasion with the best of Green-Go short film selection.

In Slovakia BROZ informed people about freshwater’s ecosystem importance in Bratislava, while in Bulgaria a press conference and discussion on Natura 2000 development in Bulgaria were organized by the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation. In addition, a digital exhibition on Natura 2000 was launched on Economedia website, the most popular webnews agency in Bulgaria. A traveling exhibition on the importance of Natura 2000 has been developed to be exhibited on two big nature fests and in the largest Bulgarian cities.

Besides our feasts in Central and Eastern Europe, Brussels also celebrated this day with a high level conference on one of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020’s actions, namely on improving knowledge of ecosystems and their services in the EU.

Action 5 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 requires Member States to map and assess the state of ecosystems and their services in country’s territory with the assistance of the EuropeanCommission. Action 5 has also its importance in mapping our natural capital and in identifying regions, where measures are to produce lucrative solutions towards the biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services targets prescribed by the Biodiversity Strategy.

During the conference, the results of the mapping of ecosystems were showed with additional findings from the scientific community and speeches from decision-makers, business and the agricultural sector. “When you take into account the many billions of euros in ecosystem services that we receive from nature each year… the amount that we spend to understand the status of natural capital… is woefully small” Commissioner Potocnik emphasized the importance of this action.

Carpathians anticipate Tourism Strategy

The final draft of the strategy for Sustainable Tourism Development of the Carpathians was finalized, NGOs are meeting to discuss how to support its adoption and implementation, tourism businesses will be consulted again: these are the recent news related to the strategy development.

On May 12-14, 2014, in Bratislava, Slovakia, the Carpathian Convention Working Group on Sustainable Tourism had its meeting to finalize the fifth and final draft of the Sustainable Tourism Strategy. It is hoped that the strategy will be adopted by the Parties at COP4, which will take place on 23 – 26 September 2014 in Mikulov, the Czech Republic. Read more >>

On June 16-18 CEEweb Sustainable Tourism Working Group will meet to discuss how to support the adoption and implementation of the strategy. Possibilities to transfer the experiences with Carpathian tourism strategy development to other countries will be discussed, therefore the meeting will also be interesting to NGOs from outside of the Carpathians. Read more >>

In addition, Ecological Tourism in Europe, ETE, who is managing the development of the strategy, is planning to organize meetings in all Carpathian Countries for national stakeholders, especially businesses. The meetings will be devoted to discussion on implementation of the strategy and will happen in June, July or September 2014.

Upcoming events

Resource Efficiency – Worth investing in?

On June 3, 2014 CEEweb organised a side event on resource efficiency in the framework of the 2014 edition of Green Week, the biggest annual conference on European environment policy. The event, held at Európa Pont in Budapest, brought together experts from different sectors (European Union, businesses, NGOs) to address the resource challenges we face and share and showcase good practices. The workshop was opened by Tamás Szűcs, Head of the European Commission Representation in Hungary, and Veronika Kiss, CEEweb for Biodiversity, and was attended by over 5o people.

Such topics were covered as the current state and trends in European resource use, the Natural Capital Declaration and The Natural Capital Financial Facility, resource efficiency from business and consumer’s perspectives, multi-actor engagement into nature conservation, and compensation of company’s impact on nature.

Read more>>

Rural Development Plans steal the limelight

The reformed CAP is in force for the years to come. Despite its very unsatisfactory content, NGOs should focus on the implementation and try to achieve that it turns green at the national level. Indeed, one of the new characteristics of the reformed CAP is the flexibility left to the Member States for implementation. A great room for maneuver is available in the greening. Thus, NGOs still have various means to influence Pillar 1 implementation as well as to channel greener practices into the Rural Development Programs. (RDPs) To achieve this and to unite NGOs in Central and Eastern European region towards the common goal, we organize a meeting on remaining options and tools on greening the RDPs on June 11-12, 2014 in Budapest.


There is a huge concern about the extent to which the ‘greening’ of Pillar 1 will contribute to the conservation of natural environment. Because of this, it is crucial that RDPs deliver efficiently and effectively on environmental objectives. Member States have strategic choices to make in their RDPs, and, if the right choices are made, these can achieve significant outcomes for biodiversity, soil, water and climate. Therefore CEEweb jointly with Fundatia Adept, EEB and Birdlife Europe organize a conference on 15th September in Brussels to discuss with a wide range of people the content of the proposed national/regional Rural Development Programmes, and to check whether they address environmental needs and challenges in an appropriate and tailored way.


Awards and occasions to celebrate 20 years of CEEweb

CEEweb Award

Do you think your project is one of the best examples of protecting the biodiversity in Central and Eastern Europe? Would you like to promote the results of your work to decision makers, other NGOs and the scientific community? Then check the CEEweb Award!

We are launching the CEEweb Award to celebrate and promote the best practices of nature conservation in Central and Eastern Europe. The Award aims to demonstrate how civil society and other stakeholders have contributed to conservation of European biodiversity. The call will be open to CEEweb members and other organisations as well as to site managers and landowners. The initiative will award excellence in Natura 2000 management, restoration and connectivity of habitats and joint conservation efforts of various sectors. The details of the call will be soon announced at the CEEweb’s Facebook page and webpage.

Go-Wild! Photo Contest

Are you proud of making a photo shot that captures the beauty and wisdom of nature? Do you know somebody who is good at that? Then check out our Go-Wild! International Photo Contest.

CEEweb will announce The Go-Wild! International Photo Contest for the third time in cooperation with Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation and other partners. This year, besides the eternal focus on Natura 2000 and protected areas, Green Infrastructure and family farming also receive the spotlight. The categories will entail Landscapes with a wild touch, where contestants should focus ona landscape photo of natural habitats and areas, a sustainably run family farm or a nice urban garden, and Wild Species. The Go-Wild! is part of an overall CEEweb’s awareness raising campaign on European efforts in protecting our natural heritage through the Natura 2000 network and Green Infrastructure.

To get updates about the contests follow the CEEweb’s Facebook page and webpage.

Celebrating 20 years of contribution to conserving biodiversity

Fancy some cake? Join the celebration at the CEEweb Annual Meeting in autumn

Our 20th birthday will be officially celebrated within the frame of CEEweb Academy and Annual Meeting in Budapest on 7th October. On that day we will commemorate the two decades of common conservation efforts with our members and prominent guests, and hand over the prizes of the CEEweb Award. If you are not yet a member of CEEweb, but would like to join the events, apply for the membership. The network is open to active NGOs devoted to conservation of biodiversity in Central and Eastern Europe.

Reading corner

Enriching our society through natural solutions

Could you have imagined that investment in natural solutions can yield 740 million euros, provide 47% increase in tax revenues or provide around 6 million jobs? If absolutely not, this is the brochure you should definitely read.

CEEweb, in partnership with ECNC, recently published Enriching our society through natural solutions: Why and how to make Green Infrastructure projects a sustainable answer for ecological, social and economic problems? The authors discuss the use of Green Infrastructure as a spatial planning tool that provides multiple environmental, social and economic benefits. The Green Infrastructure can be realized at all scales by various stakeholders: governments, spatial planners, local communities, NGOs and businesses.

Such questions are answered in the brochure: What is Green Infrastructure good for, how has Green Infrastructure been applied in Europe, and how to initiate a Green Infrastructure project. Context, a definition, and examples are included to help in thinking of the “natural solutions”.


Gaining Profit while Conserving Nature

Holcim Slovakia Ltd., the biggest producer and distributor of building materials and relevant services in Slovakia binds itself to create nesting habitats on the Danube River floodplains  by using its own financial resources. MAVIR Ltd., the operator of the Hungarian national electricity system has been running its bird protection program since 2009 in close cooperation with Birdlife Hungary. Thanks to the man-made nest program, today more than 250 saker falcons, i.e. 80% of the Hungary’s population, nest on MAVIR’s pylons. The offspring hatched and grown in these nests have saved the population from its “on the verge of extinction” status.

Above are just two examples from Visegrad region where businesses and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) cooperate to increase corporate profits and preserve nature at the same. In Gaining Profit while Conserving Nature: Guidelines for cooperation of businesses and NGOs in the Visegrad countries the authors analyze the elements of inter-sectoral partnerships, showcase successful cases of cooperation, provide practical tips for implementation. The guidelines specifically focus on enhancing partnerships between businesses and NGOs in biodiversity conservation field. The publication was issued in five languages: English, Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovakian.

Four Highlights from Natura 2000 Forests

Forests and wooded land cover more than 40% of the EU’s land and out of this 20.4 million hectares of forests are on protected area. Their adequate management helps conserving plenty of the valuable services forests provide.

In Four Highlights from Natura 2000 Forests: NGO recommendations on management these four issues are covered: wilderness and non-intervention management, management for deadwood retention, light forests, and ecological coherence. Through this brochure NGOs share their experience and knowledge on different forest management options, several on the ground examples of their implementation are included. The issues covered are relevant across most biogeographical regions and forest habitat types and are important for achieving favourable conservation status of Natura 2000 forest habitats and the target species they host.


NGOs can raise the uptake of CAP measures sevenfold

Common Agricultural Policy provided and provides approximately 40% of the EU budget. Its spending has to ensure efficient investment of public money as well as no harm on environment.

CEEweb prepared a study on the performance of National Rural Development Programmes in terms of biodiversity in five countries from Central and Eastern Europe: Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania. The authors of the study assessed that CAP measures with focus or impact on biodiversity conservation have recorded moderate to high uptake levels in CEE. Most popular measures in terms of farmer uptake and land area covered were Less Favoured Areas, Natura 2000 payments and Agri-environment Schemes. The role of advisory services was seen to be significant in uptake; it was observed that uptake rates can be seven times higher (as per number of farmers) and five times higher (as per amount of land) where highly-motivated NGOs have helped to promote the measure with farmers.

Concerns were raised in the study that quantitative success of the measures can be attributed to a limited set of requirements farmers had to comply with. Therefore the actual impact of the measures on reversing biodiversity loss and improving soil and water quality is unclear. A need for qualitative monitoring was stressed by the study.


Don’t miss this – get to know some CEEweb members

National Society of Conservationists – Friends of the Earth Hungary

The mission of the National Society of Conservationists (NSC) is the comprehensive protection of nature, as well as the promotion of sustainable development. NSC is an alliance of over 100 Hungarian member organizations. The Society plays an important role in civil environmental movements within the country, across Europe and on a global scale – in cooperation with international organizations, especially the FOE International network.

Friends of the Earth Hungary is radical in their principles: they wish to draw the attention of decision makers and citizens to the drivers of environmental problems by organizing campaigns, professional events, preparing in-depth studies and publications and targeted lobbying.

In the field of biodiversity during the recent years they concentrated on a) strengthening cooperation and building civil capacity, b) increasing the resources available for nature conservation activities, c) raising awareness amongst the public and decision makers.

They focused on capacity building and cooperation in the following areas: design and implementation of programmes and social campaigns on preserving biodiversity along with enhancing the implementation of the Nagoya objectives, lobbying, developing membership base and fundraising. We organized study tours, conferences, trainings, roundtable meetings, published studies and online materials. As a result, our local groups organized action days and revised their volunteer management strategies.

They contributed to increasing the resources available for nature conservation activities through enhanced public participation and volunteering. They also lobbied for raising the amount of domestic financial resources dedicated to biodiversity protection and their cost-effective utilization.

Their awareness raising activities focused on the importance of biodiversity and of ecosystem services. They revealed some correlations between economic structures and environmental problems and came up with proposals what to do in everyday life.

Another highlight of their work in the domain of biodiversity is our contribution to renewing the Hungarian Biodiversity Strategy, where NSC coordinated NGO input and assured public participation. NSC was able to assume this role because of its previous involvement in raising the capacity of NGOs, other experts and decision makers about good practices, EU and national biodiversity protection strategies and programs.