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1 July 2017

PROMOTING HEALTHY TOURISM

Promotion of a healthy lifestyle and eco-consciousness in tourism was the focus of the 1st Multilateral Walkshop and 3rd internal thematic meeting within the INSiGHTS project – “Integrated Slow, Green and Healthy Tourism Strategies”.

Partners visited several sites of the region where they received historical and cultural background information during guided tours, and also had the chance to go to a local horse club in Aranđelovac and discuss the experience of hiking-nature sightseeing with the facilitators.

During the official meetings partners discussed the progress of the work packages on Local Strategies, of the Status Quo reports and the next steps within the project. The methodology on organizing walkshops was also presented, followed by a presentation on state-of-the-art good practices from the pilot areas and the wider Danube region. There was also a session for the local stakeholders within the walkshop organized by Regional Economic Development Agency for Šumadija and Pomoravlje from Kragujevac, Serbia.

Within the “Critical Classroom”, partners analysed strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of Plovdiv area and the region of Šumadija and Pomoravlje.

The meeting took place in Aranđelovac, Serbia on the 28th – 30th June 2017 and was hosted by Regional Economic Development Agency for Šumadija and Pomoravlje from Kragujevac, Serbia.

The next bilateral study visit will take place in Slovenia in September 2017 and LAG Central Istria will host the next multilateral meeting in Pazin in October.

More information on the meeting can be found here.

26 June 2017

INSiGHTS Bilateral meeting and study visit

The study visit was hosted by the Bulgarian partner Regional Development Agency with Business Support Centre for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (RDA with BSC for SMEs) to jointly prepare with the Serbian partner, Regional Economic Development Agency for Sumadija and Pomoravlje (REDASP) for the walkshop held on 28-30 June in Serbia. CEEweb attended the meeting as a mentor to guide the preparation for the upcoming Critical Classroom sessions that will address how the framework for the sub-model of sensitization of visitors towards healthy and eco-conscious lifestyle via sustainable tourism should be set up. A short training was held on tourism product development and good practices from the Plovdiv pilot area were showcased during the site visit.

23 June 2017

For stronger implementation of Natura 2000

We participated in the Second Alpine Natura 2000 Seminar that provided an important opportunity to improve and strengthen the implementation of Natura 2000 in the region and ensure progress towards the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy targets. Over three days, the Alpine Seminar  outputs were identified by participants and further developed, the possible new conservation issues/priorities were identified, the sources of information and experiences that capitalise on completed projects were compiled and the possibilities and practicalities of identifying restoration priorities, including the so-called ‘low hanging fruits’ were discussed.

The seminar was hosted by the University of Padova, Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry (TESAF).  The input documents, programme and final report can be found here.

21 June 2017

We demand the 6th scenario for the EU

Together with more than 250 non-governmental organizations from various sectors under the umbrella of SDG Watch Europe, we ask for the alternative vision of Europe that is sustainable, fair and social.

Why the 6th scenario? Because we believe that five scenarios for the future of Europe presented by the President of the European Commission are not adequately addressing the social, environmental and financial challenges the EU faces today.

We are asking for the way forward that would ensure that sustainability sits firmly at the heart of the European project. The EU27 has to prioritize the interests of citizens, both in the EU and beyond, while having a strong focus on Europe’s core social values – democracy and participation, social justice, solidarity and sustainability, respect for the rule of law and human rights, both within Europe and around the globe.

As it is our opinion that the EU budget should reflect European values and priorities, we strongly believe that debates on future of Europe and especially on the shape of the next EU budget cannot happen without European citizens being a part of it and having their voice heard. The EU is committed to achieving sustainability and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and the next EU budget has to reflect those objectives. We demand policy coherence that would prevent trade-offs and wasting money of European taxpayers on contradictory objectives and together with SDG Watch Europe.

Next week the European Commission will release a proposal about the future of the EU’s finances beyond 2020, so now it is time to act. In order to ensure coherence in the future internal and external EU spending, together with SDG Watch Europe we are proposing 8 sustainability principles for forming the EU budget.

“Europeans need a positive vision for the future of Europe, one which is able to mobilise for saving the European project. People need to unite behind the 6th scenario and also push for a reformed EU budget, to support this.” – says Klára Hajdu, Senior Policy Officer at CEEweb.

Follow us on Twitter @CEEwebEurope – together with our partner organizations, next week we are launching a online platform where you can express your opinions, share your stories and visions for your Europe.

9 June 2017

NATURE-INFRASTRUCTURE COEXISTENCE

How can nature and infrastructure exist at the same time? What is the future of infrastructure developments in Hungary? – these were the main topics of the local kick off meeting of the TRANSGREEN – Integrated Transport and Green Infrastructure Planning for the Benefit of People and Nature project in Vásárosnamény. The meeting gathered representatives of the local government, development associations, Hortobágy National Park and local media.

“After talking to the inhabitants of Vásárosnamény, we came to a conclusion that that it’s an area where people value the nature surrounding them. Our task now is to emphasize these natural values during our project, to work closely with the locals and our our international TRANSGREEN partners on finding and suggesting measures on how can a fruitful nature-infrastructure coexistence be achieved, as both transport and nature are important to us” – says Erzsébet Óhegyi from CEEweb for Biodiversity.

The Vice Mayor Dr. Erzsébet Balázsy highlighted that every new project represents a new opportunity for a success in a community and a discussion among the participants focused on the benefits of the project to the local people and vice versa, providing useful food for thought to the project managers.

The kick-off meeting also included presentations about ecosystem services, protected areas at the pilot site and the aspects and effects of a linear infrastructure on nature.

For more information about the project, click here.

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 and Eurosite and supported by 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.

 

 

30 May 2017

Demand for people’s budget

European citizens have to be a part of a debate on a future of Europe and on the next EU budget that has to work both for citizens and the planet. It should show Europe’s willingness to achieve sustainability and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which the EU is committed to. Representatives of non-governmental organizations, as well as of DG Climate Action, DG Regio, DG Environment and European Parliament came together in Brussels to discuss the ways to achieve these objectives.

The results of a stakeholder survey on the next EU budget was presented at the meeting. The survey was designed by the SDG Watch Europe alliance with CEEweb taking the lead and collected more than 300 responses from all over Europe. The EU becoming a key driver to sustainability, Sustainable Development Goals mainstreamed and more citizens’ participation and higher transparency in decision-making processes are the demands that reached a broad agreement among survey respondents.

However, it is not simply about more money. We need to see policy coherence and reducing trade-offs that lead to EU money being wasted on contradictory objectives. That is why SDG Watch Europe is introducing 8 sustainability principles to ensure coherence in the future internal and external EU spending and to put sustainability at the heart of the European project. Klara Hajdu, Senior Policy Officer at CEEweb for Biodiversity stressed the need for sustainability proofing.  “We need a structured process with the effective application of tools in order to prevent and mitigate the problems as well as to minimize negative effects.” – says Klara Hajdu.

NGO representatives agreed on the future steps to be taken in order to call on the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council to integrate these principles from the very beginning of the financial policy planning, and prioritise the interest of the citizens and the implementation of the SDGs.

 

22 May 2017

The winners: air, water, nutrition

We have the results of our “What is your favorite gift from nature?” contest! It seems that nothing can beat clean air, clean water and nutrition because those are the most popular ecosystem services chosen by the Members of the European Parliament who voted in our online contest.

We selected 12 ecosystem services: 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) for the contest. We are sure it was a tough choice – each ecosystem service is valuable, if not existential.

Next, we will present ecosystem services at the “How can People and the Economy benefit from Nature? Stories from Citizens”conference in Brussels on 7 June. The conference will gather members of the European Parliament, representatives of the European Commission, the European Council, scientific community, civil society, private sector and other relevant stakeholders.

This event will present examples on how nature can provide answers to many societal and environmental challenges the European Union faces today.  Citizens coming from different sectors will share their personal experiences about living and working in Natura 2000 sites, and we will showcase successful products from this area accompanied by inspiring background stories about the collaborations and the related socio-economic benefits.

We are inviting you to register now http://bit.ly/StoriesFromCitizens and also to join us for the concert by our Friend of Natura 2000 Katy Carr and to taste the nature with us – we will offer delicious, organic Italian products and a Belgian beer! Registration is free.

17 May 2017

Green tourism strategies

On 10 May, partners of the INSiGHTS  project of Interreg Danube Transnational Program met at the 2nd internal thematic meeting in Vienna hosted by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU) to discuss the progress of work packages on Local Strategies and analyze the answers of their pilot destinations based on the Self-Assessment manual. The workshop was dedicated to the evaluation of the Status Quo analysis and the exchange of information between the various partners. Each destination explained the outcomes of their stakeholder involvement highlighting the need to improve their destinations’ strategy, the socio-economic benefits for their region and the quality of visitors’ experiences through product development.

After a detailed discussion on the local assessment of each pilot region, we presented the state-of-the-art good practices approach and outlined forthcoming steps in filtering and synthesizing the collected case studies so that piloting partners can adopt specific aspects of these good practices to refine their tourism strategies along the three thematic pillars.

You may find more information about the event in press releases in English and in Hungarian.

For more information about the project, click here.

8 May 2017

Nature works for people, the economy

Nature can provide answers to many societal and environmental challenges the European Union faces today and we will show real-life examples to prove that! We are pleased to announce the How can People and the Economy benefit from Nature? Stories from Citizensconference in Brussels on June 7th 2017.

This event will present examples on how nature can provide answers to many societal and environmental challenges the European Union faces today.  Citizens coming from different sectors will share their personal experiences about living and working in Natura 2000 sites, and we will showcase successful products from this area accompanied by inspiring background stories about the collaborations and the related socio-economic benefits.

“How can People and the Economy benefit from Nature? Stories from Citizens” conference will bring together around 150 participants: members of the European Parliament, representatives of the European Commission, the European Council, scientific community, civil society, private sector and other relevant stakeholders.

The conference is organised by CEEweb for Biodiversity, Eurosite and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and hosted by the Members of the European Parliament Ms. Sirpa Pietikäinen, Mr. Benedek Javor and Mr. Pavel Poc.

You may now register for the conference: http://bit.ly/StoriesFromCitizens

Agenda Stories from Citizens conference