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Biodiversity working group day in Brussels

On 12th December, representatives of the ENEP Biodiversity working group (BioWG), Mike Barker (chair/CIEEM) and Angels Moragues (Vice-Chair/AFIE) held a series of information meetings in Brussels.  The programme was organised and supported by ENEP Brussels representatives Simon Pascoe and Frederick van Mierlo. The group met with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as well as DG Environment and DG Development Cooperation at the European Commission. The working group representatives communicated ENEP’s recent work to the Commission and discussed future areas of cooperation and its priorities for 2014. The outcomes of each meeting are detailed below.

Meeting with IUCN

ENEP representatives met with Chris Carroll (IUCN Project Officer EU Outermost Regions and Territories) and Carole Martinez (IUCN Programme Coordinator). The BioWG introduced IUCN to ENEP's value as a large network of professionals, particularly useful for dissemination and the spread of information, as well as technical support for policy makers and stakeholders. Dissemination is an obligatory requirement of many EU funded projects, and is a role ENEP could fit into well.

Mike Barker’s expertise in European overseas territories, which have nearly 70% of the European Union’s biodiversity, led to a discussion on areas of cooperation between ENEP and IUCN in the South Atlantic. Participants agreed to look for areas to collaborate around Mike's CIEEM/Kew Biodiversity proposed project for the “protection of plant species in areas with limited statutory control” in the Falkland’s that is currently in the early stages of consolidating a project partnership before then seeking funding from the Darwin Institute in the UK. Mike was keen to explore ways in which this initiative could be expanded across the South Atlantic by making use of both IUCN and ENEP networks to share knowledge access EU funding. In this vein, Chris Carroll has invited ENEP members to join IUCN’s forum on Europe Overseas. Angels underlined the importance of ENEP with its links into other member states with overseas territories including France and the Netherlands. A number of AFIE members are based in the overseas French departments in La Reunion and Guadeloupe.

The group also held an exchange of views on BEST initiative and the future of the programme. To date BEST has been a funded through a three-year budget line accorded by the European Parliament. This will expire at the end of the year and IUCN is involved in discussions with DG Development Cooperation to secure funding under the Global Public Goods and Challenges Fund (GPGC). It remains to be seen if with be possible to use LIFE+ funding outside the EU in the 2014-2020 period. Mike agreed to share information on the work of CIEEM with Chris Carroll and IUCN.

The participants agreed to keep in close contact in case of other opportunities for collaboration and funding. Further opportunities for funding include Horizon 2020 and if ENEP could act as a dissemination partner in LIFE+ programmes.


Meeting with Strahil Christov, DG Environment - Biodiversity Unit B2 – European Commission

As an introduction to the meeting, Mike Barker, presented the work of the ENEP Biodiversity working group and updated Strahil on the latest developments from the ENEP network.

Strahil outlined the work and current priorities of DG Environment’s biodiversity unit, and emphasised that following the publication of the Green Infrastructure strategy in March 2013, the focus was now on implementation. He advised ENEP to use the European Biodiversity Strategy to guide our work.

In relation to mainstreaming and implementing biodiversity and green infrastructure, Strahil emphasised the link between Biodiversity and Cohesion Policy 2014-2020. With the agreement of the next Multi Annual Financial Framework and Cohesion Policy in place, member states are now working with regions and localities to write their partnership agreements and operational programmes which will have to be negotiated with the Commission services in the Spring of 2014. Strahil recommended speaking to  Agatha Payne (DG Environment Unit D1) for further guidance on this matter for ENEP working group members who are interested in the Structural Funds roll out in their regions.

Strahil informed ENEP that DG Environment will hold stakeholder consultation on No Net Loss in January and February 2014 and invited the WG to contribute. Action 7 under target 2 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 seeks to ’ensure no net loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services’. ENEP could also participate in drawing together experience of implementation on the ground on Green Infrastructure.

Angels introduced idea of DG Environment involvement in future ENEP event on green infrastructure, such as workshops and conferences.

The group discussed how ENEP professionals can be better connected to DG Environment in the field of biodiversity and green infrastructure.

ENEP representatives were introduced to the European Business and Biodiversity Platform (to be launched in Jan) as tool for members to become more closely involved. The deadline for applications to join the platform is 17th January 2014

Strahil mentioned a potential Biodiversity unit initiative at Green Week 2014 on Natural Capital Counting.  ENEP was invited to suggested experts who might be interested in this topic.  Members should contact the ENEP Brussels representatives if they have expertise in this area or know members in their associations who might be interested.


Meeting with DG Development and Cooperation representatives Philippe Mayaux, - Biodiversity sector and Joint Research Centre and Arnold Jacques de Dixmude, DG Development and Cooperation - Biodiversity policy officer

Phillippe Mayaux was introduced to ENEP and the work of the biodiversity working group. The Commission representatives then explained the work of DG Development and Cooperation (DEVCO) underlining that the majority of their work is focused on 3rd African Carribean Pacific (ACP) countries outside the EU. In general DEVCO has both geographic and thematic units. From a biodiversity perspective there is currently a specific focus on Africa where a rise in poaching and hunting in recent years has increased the threat of extinction to a number of key species.

Specifically, Arnold talked about the programme for Global Public Goods and Challenges, 2014-2020 (GPGC).  The new budget GPGC envisages a budget between €5 and 6 billion. The GPGC will not be enough to fund all of the priorities and funding from other programmes will be sought.  The overarching priority for this new programme is inclusive sustainable development.

As part of GPGC, DG DEVCO approved last week the B4Life programme that will link biodiversity and development. In particular, the new programme will underpin target 6 of the EU's Biodiversity Strategy on global biodiversity loss. B4Life was previously proposed as EU Biodiversity for Livelihoods Initiative (EUBLI) but a name change has recently been approved to avoid it being forgotten! (EUBLI – OUBLIER!!)

The work of DG DEVCO will be on mainstreaming biodiversity agenda in all geographic regions despite the emphasis being on Africa.

A discussion took place on how ENEP experts might make themselves available through lists of experts being used by DG DEVCO.  Philippe advised that they do not directly hold lists of individuals but rather select individuals from company/consortia who hold current framework contracts. Simon has been in contact with a number of Brussels based consultancies to raise the profile of ENEP in this domain – for example, agriconsultingeurope.be.


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