Information Sharing Event: Outdoor Sports in Protected Areas

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On the 3rd of March, EUROPARC and ENOS organised an Information Sharing Event in Brussels, focused on the connection between nature conservation and outdoor sports. After the launch of the 10 Good Principles for Outdoor Sports in Protected Areas in 2019, this event was an opportunity to reinforce the connection between the sports and the nature sector, and to bring in the European Commission´s perspective.

Outdoor sports and nature conservation, drivers of a healthy, inclusive and sustainable society

The ”Outdoor sports and nature conservation, drivers of a healthy, inclusive and sustainable society” event was a fruitful discussion with multiple perspectives. Among the 40 participants from more than 10 countries, we could count on a wide range of stakeholders from different countries and nationalities. The lively debate was sustained by actors from different sectors, all connected to each other through Outdoor Sports in Protected Areas:

  • Representatives from sports ministries and national governments
  • Representatives of the European Institutions
  • NGOs and representatives of sports organisations / federations
  • Representatives of health organisations
  • Private consultants and other professionals

The invited guests from the European Commission were Mr Nicola Notaro, Head of Nature Unit, DG ENV, Mr Yves Le Lostecque, Head of Sport Unit, DG EAC, and political assistants from Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who will take the conclusions and recommendations to the European Parliament. They provided an interesting perspective on how the Green Deal could influence the real policies for outdoor recreation in protected areas.

Audience. Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels, 2020. Photo: Stefania Petrosillo.

Some conclusions: Why is it important?

It is important to carry out transversal management plans that take into consideration the vision, objectives and solutions of all the actors involved in the life of the protected areas. In addition, an effective communication of the message will allow us to reduce the impact of our activities on biodiversity and the landscape in general. EUROPARC is developing a Toolkit to help you in implementing and achieving the mentioned objectives.

The event also led to draw some conclusions on the important points to be addressed in the coming years, both at the institutional-political level and at the local level by protected area managers and sports federations or clubs:

EUROPARC Federation:

  • A holistic approach is needed, through networking and partnerships.
  • Importance of having an influence in the policy makers and other sectors as the Sustainable Tourism Industry.
  • Objective: innovative communication and management of Protected Areas.
  • Connection with the programme ‘‘Healthy Parks, healthy people’’.

We all need nature. We want to have a positive impact and we want to make a change, but the hardest thing to change is people’s mind (Carol Ritchie)

ENOS:

  • For outdoors sports as we use other peoples’ land, we want to make sure we do so in a responsible way.
  • The Green Deal is a good starting point but no a static stone, it’s fluid, it can change.

Outdoor Sports cannot only be part of the problem, we need to be part of the solution (Michael McClure)

DG EAC, Yves Le Lostecque, Head of Sport Unit:

  • The vision of sport has changed since 10 years ago: now at EU level, sport is also about social inclusion, education, physical activity, health, jobs creation, environment… some recommendations were already adopted in 2016 on sustainability.
  • In the future, much more will be done on the field of green sports, because of the Green Deal. The Commissioner Mariya Gabriel is very interested in this topic and the discussion has already started: environmental concerns will be more and more taken into account.
  • The new EU plan for sport is a golden opportunity for the environment to be integrated into the sport plan.
  • ERASMUS+ is the main tool for projects related to the topic, which will have more budget in order to keep with the good work among the Member States.

We need to make sports, as other –human activitiy to be as green as possible (Yves Le Lostecque)

DG ENV, Nicola Notaro, Head of Nature Protection:

  • The European Commission has already produced a Guidance document on the impact of tourism in PAs, but now can be a good moment to update and complete it.
  • Important to take into account all types of protected areas, as periurban parks and green spaces for people living in urban areas, where is good to practise outdoor sports.
  • Protecting nature and enabling activities such as Outdoor Sports will result in a benefit for the whole society, but tourism is both an opportunity and a pressure, so need to understand the elements of quantity and infrastructure pressure.
  • There is also an opportunity on Outdoor Sports to reduce social inequality and fight for social inclusion.
  • Important to align actions and initiatives with the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy.
  • LIFE will remain the tool to develop projects in the field of nature conservation.

This is just the beginning of a dialogue between our two communities, so that we can identify a set of concrete actions (Nicola Notaro)

Yves Le Lostecque and Nicola Notaro. Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels, 2020. Photo: Stefania Petrosillo.

Did you miss it?

Do not worry, if for some reason you could not attend the event, in addition to the previous conclusions, you will find here the presentations made by EUROPARC and ENOS:

More information at the Outdoor Sports Knowledge Hub.

During the next months, we will discuss possible initiatives and/or future projects together with our colleagues at ENOS in order to bring together the fields of environmental and sports education.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or would like to discuss a particular recommendation, do not forget that this is an open and multidisciplinary initiative, so we will be happy to hear about your vision; please contact us at: [email protected]

We would like to say a big thank you to Sport Northern Ireland Executive Office for allowing us to host the event at their venue, as well as our colleagues at ENOS and all the participants of the event. Stay tuned for more information!

Yves Le Lostecque, Michael McClure, Nicola Notaro, Alberto Robles and Carol Ritchie. Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels, 2020. Photo: Stefania Petrosillo.

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Final Programme_Information Sharing Event

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