Looking back: EUROPARC Annual Report 2020 is out!

Montaña Palentina, NP Junta de Castilla y Leon © Juan Garcia Lucas

Published on:

Every year, the EUROPARC Federation publishes its Annual Report in English, French and German to showcase the work we have been doing in accordance to our strategy.

We don’t need to tell you, that 2020 was a year full of surprises – to say the least! However, EUROPARC is proud to say that even under these extraordinary circumstances, we still managed to support our members and work towards our strategy. Milestones were reached as well, like our first ever online conference, the meeting with Commissioner Sinkevičius and a completely digital European Day of Parks. Curious to see what else we managed to do? Then have a look at our Annual Report, available in 3 languages:

English                  French                    German

Hear from EUROPARC’s president Ignace Schops on all that happened in 2020:

“As the biggest network organization of Europe, EUROPARC Federation grew to 385 members from 37 countries in 2020, covering 40 million hectares and 40% of Natura 2000, we have an important role to play: to be the voice of nature. With evidence-based solutions we help to achieve the EU Green Deal objectives and give proof that protecting and restoring wildlife positively affects the socio-economic benefits.

Yet, the year 2020 certainly has been one of the most unusual in EUROPARC’s 47-year history. In the space of 6 months, with the arrival of Covid 19 in Europe, things which had previously been ‘taken for granted’ changed: people’s daily lives and our work in protected areas was turned upside down.

We adapted our work to the new, fully online situation. After a period of adjustment, this “virtual” world has become our new reality and as a network we have, I hope, retained our “humanity”, our care and support for our members albeit within the squares of a zoom room.  We wanted to ensure that members found solace in the unity of our network, as we all navigated the uncertainties and how to operate under new conditions.  Especially when change seemed to overwhelm, we found resilience, innovation and new solutions.

The 2020 European Day of Parks went online with #ParksForHealth. Beautiful video and audio material came flooding in from our members as people were keen to show all that Protected Areas provide for society. Watch the inspirational final video.

Another highlight was EUROPARC’s online conference. Created in very short notice, EUROPARC utilised skills and creative energies across the team to stage an extremely successful conference, with 210 attending over 2 days. The event ensured a positive networking and learning environment and was retained by EUROPARC members and colleagues across the sector.

2020 was also the year of member’s consultation where we sought input for the new strategic direction of EUROPARC. The entire process had to be modified as an online event. Despite the challenges this allowed many members to engage with the consultation process that perhaps may otherwise have not.

EUROPARC’s webinar programme, with 13 webinars being held and an average of 250 participants each continued to attract very positive feedback. Drawing from across the network to bring examples of good practise, has ensured that these webinars have become a highly valued and appreciated service we provide. Watch out for new developments in 2021!

Over all in 2020, EUROPARC has embraced the change in how we now work with new digital tools, realising that international-cooperation and connection as well as ensuring a place for our youth to be involved, are more important than ever.

The extent of what we have achieved in such a tumultuous year is described here in this annual report and is a testament to my colleagues in the EUROPARC Council, Directorate, Sections, Commissions and indeed across the membership.

Change has certainly been the overriding theme of 2020. From the response to COVID-19, to the new EU Strategies, it is clear that Parks and Protected Areas need to be involved in discussions about the future of society and be prepared with solutions to ensure they are part of a safer and more sustainable Europe.

The global response to COVID-19 taught us that we were able to develop a vaccine 4 times faster than predicted, changed our behaviour at high speed which was never expected to be possible before, based our decisions on science and never discussed the cost. With COVID-19 we didn’t discuss the feasibility but necessity and invested in a new kind of solidarity.

The only way to predict and ‘be ready’ for the future is to be a part of creating it. Let’s take the COVID-19 lessons as an example for change where we, the Parks of Europe, can and should be the Changemakers of the Future- for the future of our climate, our biodiversity and the health of our Parks and our People.”