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12 February 2018

Panel debate on sustainability proofing the EU budget

It is high time for the EU to seriously discuss introducing sustainability proofing for the EU budget, and the Sustainable Development Observatory of the European Economic and Social Committee (a consultative body in the EU) has also contributed to that. On 7  February they organised a panel debate about sustainability proofing of the EU budget, where Klara Hajdu on behalf of the People’s Budget campaign presented the NGO position in the panel debate.

26 January 2018

Urging Bulgarian PM to stop Pirin destruction

Pirin National Park is a World Heritage Site located in South-West Bulgaria, and is home to old growth pine forests, wolves and bears. In a surprise move last December, the management plan of the park was changed to allow construction on an additional 47% of the park. This decision came days before Bulgaria took over as President of the European Council, and while the new management plan is being reviewed by the Administrative Court in Bulgaria for fears of allowing too much unsubstantiated environmental damage.

WWF together with the For the Nature coalition started a campaign over a year ago urging the prime minister of Bulgaria, Boyko Borisov, to take steps to protect the park, which is also a part of the Natura 2000 protection sites in the EU. Over 120 000 individuals from Bulgaria and the EU have signed an online petition urging Mr. Borisov to stop this and prevent the large-scale building of ski resorts in the park.

What can you do? 

Sign the petition, and spread the word on social media using the hashtag #SavePirin.

Want to find out more? 

Read WWF’s press release.

24 January 2018

Transgreen – experts from 7 countries congregate to take important steps toward the guidelines on integrated transport development

Bratislava, Slovakia. 22nd-23rd of January, 2018. CEEweb together with the National Infrastructure Developing Ltd. (NIF Zrt.) and new field-expert in the project represented Hungary on a working meeting that sets an important milestone in developing one key TRANSGREEN output: the Guidelines on Integrated Transport Development. Seven countries were represented in the meeting, showing the high interest in bringing input in a document that would influence the way transport planning is done in the CEE region.

The year begins with intense work and a meeting which perfectly showcases the multisector approach promoted by TRANSGREEN. The final project output – the Guidelines on Integrated Transport Development – cannot exist without the collaborative work of expert-authors from across the region and across fields of expertise. In the Bratislava meeting, there were represented field experts for fauna and flora, NGOs, transport infrastructure companies, spatial planners, lawyer, GIS experts, and IENE members (Infra Eco Network in Europe, IENE is a network of experts working with various aspects of transportation, infrastructure and ecology) from Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine.

The meeting agenda covered editing and organizing the Guidelines and distribution of work, and a session lead by CEEweb on the HU-SK-UA pilot site. The session aimed brought updates on findings of the field work dedicated to verify ecological corridors and areas of conflicts along the planned/existing roads.

The main results of the meeting are important for the Guidelines structure and contents: an updated structure of the Guidelines, new authors being assigned specific topics, and an overall refreshed connection to the common vision.

Photos (c) Ivo Dostal

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18 January 2018

Fertő-Hanság Biogeographical process event

CEEweb for Biodiversity organized the Thematic Networking Event: Towards a shared ecological rationale for more integrated implementation of the Nature and Water Directives for all Biogeographical Region.

The event was held at Fertő-Hanság National Park, Sarród, Hungary in 15-17th of November.

The main objective of the event was to provide a platform for a technical specialist discussion about better integration of decision-making processes and actions under the Birds and Habitats Directives (BD & HD) and Water Framework Directive (WFD) in the European Member states. A secondary objective was to initiate a technical specialist network on freshwater Natura habitats, which could be used to share knowledge and experience and improve decision-making. Twenty participants attended the event, representing non-/governmental institutions from 12 countries (Romania, Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, England, Malta, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Finland).

A discussion paper was developed in advance of the meeting, which was used to help structure workshop discussions. The approach advocated by the paper is a greater focus on natural ecosystem function where this is possible and desirable, to help integrate the needs of individual Natura 2000 habitats and species in landscapes and generate biodiversity objectives that are most likely to align with water objectives. This type of approach is controversial in the context of the Nature Directives because much of our wildlife is now dependent on human modifications to the landscape of one sort or another (hydrological, chemical, physical, vegetation controls, population management).

You can find the executive summary here: Executive Summary

You can find the full event report here: Event Report

You can check the event details here.

 

 

16 January 2018

Save Kresna Gorge in Bulgaria!

A spectacular nature haven in southwestern Bulgaria, home to twice as many butterfly species as the whole of the UK and protected by EU nature laws, is under threat from an EU-funded motorway from Sofia to Greece. The detailed briefing is here.

 

kresna1

CEEweb together with 7 other NGOs has warned the Bulgarian government of the large-scale damage to biodiversity that cannot be mitigated by measures such as animal-crossings, and similar negative effects on local people as well.

The EC will soon face a decision on whether to approve the release of funds for this, and will also have to give its opinion on whether a derogation to EU nature protections be allowed.

We are calling upon the European Commission to intervene to protect European nature and the rule of law, and to ensure European taxpayers’ money is not misspent on a damaging, unlawful project. In particular we urge the EC to:

  •   launch an infringement procedure against Bulgaria for significant breaches of EU law, to protect Kresna Gorge Natura 2000 site;
  •   work with Bulgaria and condition use of EU funds to ensure successful completion of the project by 2023 in full compliance with the Birds and Habitats Directives, by removing transit motorway traffic from Kresna Gorge via a route outside the Gorge.

Please help the cause by sharing our briefing and call!

If you are interested, you can also listen to the Friends of the Earth podcast, in which several activists from the field talk about the situation.

8 January 2018

Tender call: cutting emissions from farming

The European Environmental Bureau and BirdLife Europe call for tender is now out. “An unavoidable step after Paris: cutting emissions from farming” will be a study on cost effective climate mitigation measures in France, Germany, Spain, Ireland and Hungary (with a focus on the socio-economic parameters/barriers including the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)). A number of studies analysing the mitigation potential within the agricultural sector already exist, but these are EU-wide and largely theoretical. This study should focus on uptake in the five countries, and real barriers and trends.

The full call can be found here.

The deadline for the proposals to be submitted is 30 January 2018. The proposals should be sent to Faustine Bas Defossez (EEB) and Harriet Bradley (BirdLife Europe).

faustine.bas-defossez@nulleeb.org

harriet.bradley@nullbirdlife.org

5 January 2018

NGO position for a sustainable EU budget

Representing 71 civil society organisations in the European People’s Budget campaign advanced by SDG Watch Europe, an EU-level, cross-sectoral CSO alliance, we call for ambitious reform of the future Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) to advance a Future of Europe that Europeans can believe in. A transformational, people centered, and fully sustainable EU budget holds the key to many of the challenges facing Europe. The overarching solution we call for, is to introduce specific reforms to bring the MFF in line with sustainable development, including ambitious implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Unfortunately there is ample evidence and examples which prove that the current MFF is not sustainable, and fails to meet social, environmental, as well as economic objectives. As the work of the High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (HLEG) makes clear, reforms are needed to unlock the potential of the MFF to help catalyse sustainable finance.

We call on the European Commission and Member States to meet the challenge of a transformational and more coherent MFF by introducing sustainability proofing  for the next MFF for both internal and external funding. This is also in line with the recommendations of the HLEG, which provide several possibilities, including to ‘sustainability test’ all future EU financial regulations and policies. If done right, sustainability proofing in the MFF will result in improved policy coherence, transformational spending, and fairer access to finance for citizens, including the vulnerable. It can help the MFF deliver on the following ambitions necessary to revive the European project:

• The EU budget should serve the Sustainable Development Goals both inside and outside Europe and be fully in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Charter of Fundamental Rights as well as international human rights standards,
• The European Semester should be transformed to deliver “Annual Sustainable Development Surveys” and help to channel EU funding to the identified priority areas,
• EU funding decisions made upon the EU value added and the measurement of results should be coherent and balanced among all three dimensions of sustainable development at the same time as enshrined in the Treaty,
• The EU budget should strengthen common European values in Europe and globally,
• The EU budget should work for the people and with the people, with greater transparency and meaningful participation of the citizens,
• The EU budget should increase social inclusion and provide financial means to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights,
• EU funding should be catalytic in the transition to circular economy, and prevent any wasteful spending for unsustainable infrastructures like investment in fossil fuels and environmentally harmful practices,
• The EU budget should support the transition to sustainable food, farming and land policy, to restore and maintain ecosystem services and protect our natural resources such as biodiversity and water.

Please read the full position and the Annex with a set of policy recommendations.

5 December 2017

EUGIC 2017 successes

Last week, 29-30 November, the Second European Urban Green Infrastructure Conference took place in Budapest.

The conference brought together professionals from different backgrounds in landscape architecture, nature-based solutions in cities, urban planning and human interactions with nature. Speakers included Laura Gatti, creator of Bosco Verticale in Milan, Marco Fritz from DG Research and Innovation, Rita Mayrhofer from Biotope City, Dominic Regester from Salzburg Global, and Monika Kotulak, our Natura 2000 and Water Policy Officer, as well as many more. Topics discussed included green infrastructure, urban farming, green roofs and nature based solutions in cities!

The two-day program included Horizon 2020 sessions on nature-based solutions in cities, what we have learned from current practices and hopes for the future. More information here.

Our side event with the International Visegrad Fund explored the green and smart futures of cities in Central Europe. This is part of an ongoing collaboration between the four countries; more information here.

More details about the conference can be found here.

Please also check out our press release and conference Declaration on the topic.

4 December 2017

How would your dream city look like?

Participants of the International Visegrad Seminar at the 2nd European Urban Green Infrastructure Conference let their imaginations fly on the event organized by CEEweb.

On 29 November 2017 four partners from the V4 countries gave an introduction into smart and green cities presenting the activities and some good examples collected during the one-year long project that have been carried out in the frame of the “Smart and Green – the Future of Visegrad cities” project. After getting some inspiration and insights on smart and green Visegrad cities from the presentations, participants were invited to be a part of an exciting workshop session with the task to develop a “dream city” which involved brainstorming on urban problems, smart solutions and especially combining those with green solutions. The exciting and creative results were presented by the participants themselves. Like the free and electric bus with solar panel bus stops; access to the riverside in the city by putting the roads in an underground tunnel thus citizens can have direct access to the riverside (e.g. Danube) in the heart of the city; and the common demand of solving the problem of sealed surfaces and creating more greenery in the city…

The workshop was facilitated by Erzsébet Óhegyi (CEEweb for Biodiversity) and the project partners Maria Bihunova (Association for Garden Design and Landscaping), Pavel Dostal (The Czech Landscape Gardening Association) and Marta Weber-Siwirska (Polish Green Roof Association).

The presentations and more information about the project can be acquired here.

The event was supported by the International Visegrad Fund and the European Union.

14 November 2017

Green-GO winners announcement

The 7th Green-GO International Short Film Contest winners have been announced!

The winners of our 500 EUR worth awards are:

– Build Green Live Green (green infrastructure)

Loud Statement by Pavlo Nesterov from the Czech Republic.

Have you ever thought that we replace calm nature parks with loud roads and massive buildings? Just listen. What do you hear now?
Is it a car engine sound, ambulance sirene, street repair works… And what would you like the sound of your future to be?

– Last Day on Earth? (earth overshoot day)

Nature Calls by Harry Vincent from Australia.

Nature Calls is essentially a film on how I imagine the world would treat “Mother Nature” if she was a real person. Day after day we get closer and closer to extinction of thousands of species of animals, we destroy countless acres of beautiful forests and for what? Profit. Mother Nature has been sending us messages for years and years but thanks to peoples complete ignorance and obliviousness, we have done virtually nothing.

– Your Europe in 2050 (EU Budget)

State of Emergency by Victoria Bilash from Germany.

Europe in the past. Europe now. And Europe in the future. The film shows what happens with the Europe if we will keep to be skeptical about environmental issues.

They were carefully selected by our three judges, Dusty Gedge, Klara Hajdu and Monika Kotulak from more than 160 submissions from this year.

We are very happy to announce that the winner of the popular vote with a 200 EUR prize is:

The Future, by Adegoke Todimu, from Nigeria.

Water is Life. 844 Million people globally lacks a basic drinking water service. Water is a natural resource which people see as unlimited thereby leading to the mismanagement and wastage in its use. This short film dwells on the necessity in water management.

You can read more about Green-GO in our press release here.

We hope for similar successes next year!