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Newsletter 2017/2

2017-2 Dear Reader, This year was particularly eventful. All over the world several affairs have happened which could spin off us and our activities. Due to the signals of failing state of global environment, the devastation of our common natural heritage should be obvious that environment issues became factors of strategic importance and key questions of global security. But despite warning indications, the overall general political commitment and willingness is still not strong enough to get a real breakthrough. Sustainability requirements are overshadowed by short term political and economic interests. In short, proportionate and shared responsibility of decision makers is badly needed, peculiarly if we listen to world scientists (“World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice”). Just 25 years ago, a group of reputable scientists made a call saying that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.” They set out the most important threats including ozone depletion, freshwater availability, marine life depletion, ocean dead zones, forest loss, biodiversity destruction, climate change, and continued human population growth. The evaluation of the trends after 25 years shows that scientists could identify only one “success story” related to the common effort to stabilize the stratospheric ozone layer. For all the rest, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress, and what is more, most of the problems are getting far worse. It begs the question, at least for us: what CEEweb could do, what contribution should we provide to tackle with these challenges? Due to our common efforts, in 2017 we worked hard on each possible level and sphere of activity corresponding to our mission of conservation of biodiversity through the promotion of sustainable development, including advocacy, influencing decision making, enhancing science–policy–society interface, capacity building, networking and awareness raising.  As lessons learnt, if we would like to work efficiently for biodiversity issues, we must deal comprehensively with the driving forces of our days. Therefore, you can find in our current newsletter articles providing an overview of our wide range interest and activities including the need for UN binding treaties, sustainability proofing of the EU budget, what can we do to make Natura 2000 work better, green and blue infrastructure, smart and green cities, deep mulching for enhancing soil fertility and planting native fruit trees for offsetting carbon footprint. Thank for all working with us to achieve our mission. On behalf of CEEweb for Biodiversity, I wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Erzsébet Gergely General Secretary of CEEweb for Biodiversity  

NEWS:

01_water_m HOW NATURE CAN HELP YOU – SOLUTIONS FOR WATER MANAGEMENT Our life depends on water – the blood of the earth. However, by relying on ‘concrete-based’ rather than ‘nature-based’ solutions we are not doing our best to protect our precious water resources and eventually ourselves. For this reason, one of the focus areas of CEEweb is Green-Blue Infrastructure (GBI), i.e. natural and semi-natural landscape elements such as, for example, woodlands, grasslands or pond systems, which can also act as natural water filtration plants for instance. While the cost-effectiveness of GBI remains uncertain over the short  period of time, the long-term benefits such as reduced public health expenditures are unquestionable. More information regarding GBI and its financing mechanisms can be found in brochures, which are available in various languages on our website. For more information you can also contact our Policy Officer: Monika Kotulak: kotulak@nullceeweb.org.   02_eu budget_ REFORMING THE EU BUDGET TO WORK FOR THE PEOPLE AND SERVE SUSTAINABILITY Even though the objectives of the EU include sustainable development in a three dimensional approach (social, environmental and economic), the current EU budgetary framework puts the greatest emphasis on generating economic growth very often on the clear expense of social inclusion and environment protection. This narrow and flawed approach needs to be challenged and substantially improved in the next multiannual financial framework, so that it becomes a catalytic and people centered budget, which helps to revive the European project. Thus the European People’s Budget campaign, which is advanced by the SDG Watch Europe cross-sectoral NGO alliance and co-facilitated by CEEweb, calls for sustainability proofing the future EU budget. Among others we call for reforming the Common Agricultural Policy to serve only the public good, strengthening the ex ante conditionality framework through better monitoring, improving the transparency and the involvement of the civil society in the whole process, and also creating a targeted funding instrument to establish the European green infrastructure network.  We expect the European Commission and Member States to embark on a substantial EU budget reform, which enables the European transition to sustainability, and builds a European future in which the citizens can believe in. Read more about our key demands on our campaign website.   03_old growth NEW PARTNERSHIP FOR THE PROTECTION OF OLD GROWTH FORESTS The existence of remaining European old growth forests, such as Białowieża forest, is threatened. This is the result of illegal logging, rising timber prices and usage, fragmentation from new transport routes or pressure for measures against bark beetle infestations. In order to draw attention to these challenges, the Wild Europe Initaitve organized a ‘Conference for the protection of the old growth forests in Europe’, which took place in Brussels on the 13th and 14th of September 2017. As a main outcome of the conference, a ‘Protection Strategy’ to address the growing threats to old growth forests was drafted. One of the key proposed measures is to create a common ground (‘The Old Growth Forest Protection Forum’) among stakeholders from the field of conservation, landholding, forestry, local community and broader public in order to facilitate the dialogue and undertake joint actions. If you would like to have more information, please contact Monika at kotulak@nullceeweb.org   04_text  ONE STEP CLOSER TO END CORPORATE IMPUNITY Róbert Fidrich, National Society of Conservationist – Friends of the Earth Hungary When multinationals have immense power and vast amounts of money available to suppress the resistance of local people in disputes around corporate investments, the people should also have the legal means and opportunities to stand up for their rights. This is the reason why Ecuador, supported by a bunch of other countries suggested to adopt a treaty that can hold corporations accountable, end their impunity for human rights and environmental crimes, and give people access to justice. Within this negotiation process government representatives of 101 countries and more than 200 representatives of global civil society, joined the third session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group at the United Nations in Geneva between 23 -27 October to discuss the elements a legally binding treaty. It is about time to tip the scales: there are currently thousands of legally binding investment agreements to protect the interests of transnational corporations abroad, but no treaty to hold them to account. Despite the fact that the EU tried to block the process, the session approved the closing Recommendations of the Chair-Rapporteur of the working group and next year the negotiations  will hopefully continue with preparing the Draft Text of the Binding Treaty.

Press release of the Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity

  05_text MOVING TOWARDS MORE SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL POLICY Mariliis Haljasorg, Estonian Fund for Nature
The CAP needs a radical change: abolishing the environmentally harmful subsidies and paying public money for public goods only. We need a policy that is fair to farmers and all rural dwellers, environmentally sustainable, promote production of healthy food and which is globally responsible. The future of the CAP was the topic of the conference on 1-2 September in Tallinn and Matsalu, where environmental and agricultural organisations, farmers, scientists, officials and other participants gathered. Despite their versatile background, most speakers found that the CAP requires significant changes. Multiple participants signed an open letter addressed to the Agriculture and Fisheries Council of the European Union and other relevant EU decision-makers with their proposals how to repair the policy. Find the open letter here: http://elfond.ee/cap-conference/open-letter Read more about the conference and the CAP from the blog of Estonian Fund for Nature:  http://estcap.blogspot.com Please find the illustrative picture you like from the album: http://elfond.ee/cap-conference/gallery   06_text NEW PROTOCOLS TO THE CARPATHIAN CONVENTION ADOPTED! Two new protocols have been adopted to the Carpathian Convention, which give some teeth for the effective implementation:  the new Protocol on Climate Change and the Protocol on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development. They provide specific guidance towards the Hungarian, Polish, Czech, Romanian, Slovak and Ukrainian governments and other stakeholders for the sustainable development of the Carpathians in these fields. This is a big step forward for the protection of our Carpathian Region. CEEweb also contributes to this goal through its ongoing project titled “Transgreen” which helps to improve the ecological connections in the region, which is threatened by the expanding linear infrastructures. Thus CEEweb was also present with its TRANSGREEN exhibition at the COP5 to the Carpathian Convention, which took place in October 2017 in Lillafüred, Hungary.   07_text2 SMART AND GREEN CITIES IN THE VISEGRAD COUNTRIES

CEEweb together with its partners from the four Visegrad countries, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland collected  many good examples on how smart and green innovations can make cities more liveable. Our publication summarises them and also contains exciting interview extracts with national local experts active in the urban environment as mayors or innovators, practitioners themselves. The four countries have numerous implemented smart innovations to be proud of, but there are also barriers and challenges identified, which need to be tackled for more improvement.

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WHAT CAN YOU DO IN YOUR COUNTRY TO MAKE NATURA2000 WORK BETTER? – COUNTRY SPECIFIC FACTSHEETS IN SIX LANGUAGES

There is a large room for improvement in the implementation of Natura 2000 – the largest network of protected areas in the world, where different types if stakeholders all have a role to play. For example, Natura 2000 faces issues such as inadequate reporting or monitoring of activities in Natura 2000 sites, or lack of reliable information on the costs of the network and its financing needs from the EU budget. As a response CEEweb compiled five country-specific and one regional fact sheet outlining not only the challenges, but also the relevant measures that should be taken as a priority by CEE countries to improve the effectiveness of Natura 2000. The fact sheets are available in six languages and can be found on our website (EnglishHungarianPolishCzechBulgarian and Slovakian). The fact sheets correspond with the Action Plan for nature, people and the economy, which has been adopted by the European Commission with the aim to improve the overall contribution of Natura 2000 towards reaching the EU’s biodiversity targets for 2020.  

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FROM AN AMERICAN GOLD MINE TO YOUR CAR – EDUCATIONAL TOOLKIT ON SUSTAINABLE RESOURCE USE

“Imagine that you work in a gold mine in South America under harsh conditions, and try to convince your boss to introduce fair trade certification for the mine” – this is one role play from our recent educational toolkit, which can help students understand how people live in the global South and how they are impacted by our lifestyle as European consumers. Within an International Visegrad Fund project in our European campaign on sustainable resource use, we developed an educational toolkit with our partners targeting 11-16 year old students. The 17 exercises in the toolkit are based on a car manufacturing case study from the Visegrad countries, which outlines the diversity of raw materials and the economic relationships involvd in car manufacturing. The exercises can be used inside and outside the classrooms to help understand the complex social, economic and environmental impacts of car manufacturing from local to global level. You can download the toolkit in EnglishHungarian, Slovak and Polish.  

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OVERSHOOT DAY CAMPAIGN IN HUNGARY

By August 2, 2017, we have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the whole year. We used more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate through overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than forests can sequester. Higher awareness and radical changes are needed in our behaviours, policies and business practices, thus in 2017 CEEweb and CEEweb-member GreenDependent Association joined the international Earth Overshoot Day Pledge Campaign coordinated by the Global Footprint Network. As part of the campaign GreenDependent translated some of the campaign infographics into Hungarian. This is noteworthy as some of these infographics, after they were posted on social media, attracted a rather high number of responses, comments and shares. Motivated by this positive response and interest, we also decided to continue with the campaign until the National Ecological Deficit Day in Hungary, and invited and, through offering prizes, motivated people to make pledges to help push this day later. To provide ideas for people for their pledges, GreenDependent prepared a collection of pledge ideas – which can be used any time of the year. So, why not use them during the festive period or to make your resolutions for the New Year?

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GREEN-GO: 4 MINUTES, 3 BIG THEMES, OVER 160 FILMS FROM OVER THE WORLD

This year, we organised the 7th Green-Go International Short Film Contest, and with great response. We gave our contestants three environmentally pressing themes to choose from, loosely tied to the agenda of CEEweb as a whole this year: “Build Green, Live Green,” on green infrastructure; “Last Day On Earth?” addressing Earth Overshoot Day; and “Your Europe in 2050,” inviting people to imagine what they would spend the EU budget on to improve Europe. With received a wide variety of videos from around the world, from Hungary and Estonia to Singapore and Brazil. The winner of the first category was “Loud Statement” by Pavlo Nesterov from the Czech Republic. The second category winning film was “Nature Calls” by Harry Vincent from Australia, and the winner of the third category was “The State Of Emergency” by Victoria Bilash from Germany. The popular vote category winner received almost twice as many votes as any other video and is the Nigerian film “The Future” by Adegoke Todimu. We are looking forward to next year’s contest! For more information, check out our news section on the topic.   e4c3103f-ffad-42fd-87e0-2080cfc92ed7 EUGIC  FEAST OF NATUREBASED SOLUTIONS

Is there anybody who has never thought about combining benefits of city life with preserving and enjoying natural values, beautiful landscapes and tranquillity? Really, should we toggle between them or is it only a dream? The Second European Urban Green Infrastructure Conference held in Budapest on 29-30 November was organised to line up with those who bespoke that it could be reality. The conference was delivered by CEEweb for Biodiversity and Livingroofs.org, in close cooperation with donors and exhibitors. It was a forum for global and local experts, practitioners from Europe and around the world to be inspired, providing best practices, sharing experience, initiating cooperation and raising awareness for the necessary shift towards sustainability. Several reputed experts provided a comprehensive overview of progress achieved in urban green infrastructure projects. Attendees submitted their innovations as posters and presented them as part of our Story Corners. The most outstanding projects were granted the Award for the Best Urban Infrastructure Project. (See the winners here). The programme included a Horizon 2020 Session and an Industry Speed Dating Event. The Evening Ceremony was closed by presenting the winning films of the GREEN-GO Short Film Contest 2017. If you are interested in urban green infrastructure, please see the Budapest Statement as well (The Budapest Statement A Call for a Greener Vision for Cities in Europe).

DEEP MULCHING, A NATURE-FRIENDLY METHOD FOR GARDENING AND FARMING Iván Gyulai, Ecological Institute for Sustainable Development 

Improving nutrient levels, helping retain water, creating an ideal environment for germination and preventing soil degradation – deep mulching achieves all of these to reduce soil degradation, a problem many people solve by using large amounts of artificial fertiliser. For the past 15 years, Iván Gyulai of the Ecological Institute for Sustainable Development has worked on his farm using an innovative method of soil nourishment, deep mulching, to improve the soil characteristics on his land. The secret of this procedure is in achieving the correct balance of nitrogen and carbon-based nutrients by using layers of low-nitrogen straw and high-nitrogen organic litter to cover the ground for the winter period. The 60cm thick layer of organic material starts to decompose during spring time, and the process generates enough heat to help crops germinate, as well as providing them with vital nutrients for healthy growth. Repeating this process annually creates a topsoil layer that absorbs and retains water for longer, and sustains important provisioning ecosystem services. More details about this method of natural fertilisation can be found here.  

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SAVING ENERGY, CUTTING CARBON: HOW TO CHANGE ENERGY USE BEHAVIOuR IN PUBLIC BUILDINGS? Edina Vadovics, GreenDependent Sustainable Solutions Association
GreenDependent Association’s sister organization, GreenDependent Institute (also partner to the Resource Cap Coalition) concluded its save@work project that was conceived to help realize the energy saving potential in public buildings and support public employees to change their everyday energy consuming behaviour and practices. Across 9 countries, save@work engaged with more than 17,000 public employees in 176 buildings in a 1-year behaviour change programme. With support from the expert partners in each country, local Energy Teams were formed from the employees in each public building. These teams were then responsible for the planning, implementation and, partly, the evaluation of the energy saving campaign in their building. The majority (73%) of the participating buildings did save energy during the project: on average 8% energy was saved, but the best-performing buildings saved as much as 20-25% as compared to their consumption prior to the project. Another great achievement of the project was the creation of more cohesive and cooperative employee communities. Also, a comprehensive evaluation process was conducted by GreenDependent, and the lessons learnt along with useful tips for conducting behaviour change programmes are now published and available (full report / ppt summary). Also, if you are interested in some inspiring local stories, you can read the blog with stories from all participating countries.
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CALCULATING  THE CARBON FOOTPRINT OF EVENTS AND OFFSETTING IT THROUGH PLANTING NATIVE FRUIT TREES Edina Vadovics, GreenDependent Sustainable Solutions Association Events often leave quite substantial carbon footprints. For this reason CEEweb-member GreenDependent Association collaborates with event organizers to calculate the carbon footprint of their events as well as involve organizers and at times even event participants to voluntarily offset the event footprint through the planting of native fruit trees. Thereby in addition to offsetting, responsible event organizers also contribute to the safeguarding of biodiversity and creating local food growing opportunities. The trees that GreenDependent plants are from a gene bank. Earlier in the year, GreenDependent calculated the carbon footprint of CEEweb’s Circular Hungary 2017 conference, which amounted to 3.99 tons of CO2 emissions (as a comparison, the average annual carbon footprint of a Hungarian person is 4.75 tons CO2). Participants at the conference had the opportunity to donate money towards offsetting and thus planting trees. GreenDependent also calculated the carbon footprint of the Jubilee Business Lunch of the Business Council for Sustainable Development in Hungary, and in order to offset the footprint, native trees are being planted in school gardens. GreenDependent also provides ideas for event organizers on how to reduce the footprint and environmental impact of their events. Some of these tips can be read here.    

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The newsletter is financed by the European Commission support but doesn’t necessary reflect its views and positions.