Connecting Human Rights and Nature inside the Council of Europe

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The new Environment, Climate Change, Heritage and Health Committee inside the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe, chaired by EUROPARC Federation, aims to develop an integrated approach between human rights, environment, heritage and health in the Bern, Florence, Aarhus and Faro Conventions.

The climate change emergency, the perilous state of biodiversity, the ongoing land consumption and even more recent, the COVID-19 pandemic, have highlighted the intrinsic need of and link between human health, heritage and nature.

All of these critical topics – environment, climate change, heritage, and health -, have inequalities in terms of access and effects embedded in them, and moreover, their governance needs to be founded in sound participatory democratic principles. Democracy, human rights and the rule of law are deeply applicable and need to be ensured across these important themes in our societies.

Council of Europe

presentation of the new Committee by Carol Ritchie at the Assembly of INGOs, April 2021

Thus, a new Thematic Committee inside the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe, dedicated to bridge the perceived nature-culture divide, improve mutual understanding, gather, and disseminate good practice, ensure a check and balance for public institutions, and provide a cross sectoral platform, was definitely urgent from EUROPARC’s perspective.

Therefore, thanks to the initiative of the EUROPARC Federation, the new Environment, Climate Change, Heritage and Health Committee (ECCH&CH) has been officially approved on 28th of April 2021 by the INGOs General Assembly.

By bringing together INGO’s from a range of different sectors, the ECCH&H Committee seeks an integrated approach. It addresses the human rights aspect of environment and heritage in the framework of the Bern, Florence, Aarhus and Faro Conventions and, references the Sustainable Development Goals, climate change commitments and the need for greater connectivity between people and nature.

The Committee aims to overcome the nature/culture divide that hinders collaboration and progress towards a shared vision that protects human rights, upholds democracy and the rule of law. It wants to raise awareness and encourage the development of Europe’s cultural identity and shared values.

The Committee has started working on the analysis of the gaps and potentialities of the Council of Europe (CoE) Conventions. It has already identified some crucial needs that will be at the core of the Committee’s actions:

  • to re-launch the importance of the Conventions among public authorities and civil society, in particular the Bern Convention;
  • to update and connect key concepts of the Conventions, i.e. “equality” with climate change impacts;
  • to enable different experts to work together to develop the synergies and create a toolbox composed by the different CoE Conventions.

The members of the Committee will also act to generate synergies between the ECCH&H Committee and different European Union NGOs Platforms.

Members of the ECCH&H Committee are:

EUROPARC Federation

CivilScape

EAA

ECYC

EEB

EURODOC

Friends of the Earth/Pro Natura

IDF

The Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) of the Council of Europe is the representative body of the INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe. EUROPARC is a member since 2013.

The substantive work on particular issues is undertaken in Committees. They provide a focus for discussion and research on issues relevant to the work of the Council of Europe. They prepare reports and where appropriate, draft declarations, recommendations and resolutions for consideration by the General Assembly.

Nature-based Solutions at the forefront- IUCN World Conservation Congress

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The world changes one discussion at a time, one meeting at a time, one congress at a time. In this article, you can find a recap of the IUCN World Conservation Congress.

This year’s IUCN World Conservation Congress postponed from 2020 to 2021 due to Corona, took place in the form of a hybrid event in Marseille (FR) and online. It was the first such type of big event in the nature conservation sector.

5900 participants came in person, and thousands of others joined the event online, actively engage to define actions that need to be taken for the conservation of nature in the next decade, underlining the link between the environment and humanity.

This major event focused on three themes, biodiversity conservation plan, nature-based solutions for a global post-Covid19 recovery, and the need for financial investment in nature. Paving the way for further discussions at the UN Climate Change (COP 26) in the UK in November 2021, and shaping negotiations for the global biodiversity framework to be adopted at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) in China in April 2022. It had a number of high-profile speakers, like Emmanuel Macron, Harrison Ford, and Frans Timmermans.

Nature-based Solutions at the forefront

A fast array of issues were discussed, and during the Congress a total of 148 resolutions and commitments were adopted and published in the Marseille Manifesto.

An update of the IUCN Red List for threatened species was also announced, which saw a slight recovery of some tuna fish species, but also an increasing danger for other marine animals like shark and rays species. The situation for the Komodo dragon also continues to worsen as a result of climate change.

Indeed, the decline in biodiversity, the climate crisis, and human health are inextricably interconnected. This is why it is so important to invest in Nature-based Solutions (NBS) and include everyone in the process: indigenous people, young people, governments, civil society, businesses, and experts, a notion that was underlined during the entirety of the Congress:

Biodiversity is a multidimensional problem.

said Razan Al Mubarak. Razan is the first Arab woman to be elected President of IUCN during the Members Assembly. Some other “personnel changes” include the appointment of Dr. Madhu Rao as new Chair of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), with a European representative for the Commission appointed in due course.

EUROPARC would like to take this opportunity to thank the past IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Regional Vice-Chair Europe Andrej Sovinc, for his sterling work, and immense efforts to promote and strengthen Protected Areas both within and outside of the IUCN.

Participation of EUROPARC’s Council

EUROPARC Vice President Michael Hošek

From EUROPARC, our Council Member Pete Rawcliffe was involved as a panellist in the session “Nature is Good Medicine” highlighting the importance of NBS to care for both people and the environment. EUROPARC vice-president Michael Hošek was also present at the event, he reported on the main highlights concerning European Protected Areas.

These included:

  • The approval of the IUCN 4-year plan for Europe, which reflects the activities foreseen in the European region and its influence on the rest of the world. The program highlights the need for strong partnerships, covering and consensus building among stakeholders and working across sectors to pursue the sustainable use of land and its restoration, the integration of nature in cities, a reshaping of our economy and future healthy oceans, and tackling climate change.

EUROPARC will look closely at how this may intersect with our own strategy.

  • The approval of  Motion 130 “Strengthening sustainable tourism’s role in biodiversity conservation and community resilience”, which was co-sponsored by EUROPARC (find out more from Anna Spenceley’s Chair of the IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group post here).
  • The approval of Motion A “Including subnational and local governments to IUCN’s membership”. This opens more workspace with periurban areas and regional or local nature parks, which have become increasingly essential tools for local communities’ involvement, greening urban areas, and climate change adaptation.
  • The voting for a temporary suspension of deep seabed mining. Specifically, the Netherlands government was requested to better protect the Wadden Sea area from fossil fuel mining practices. The area is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can find more info here.

Our vice-president noted that: “Despite the technological challenges, the congress showed a way forward, i.e., how to be more environmentally friendly while still participating, travelling is not always needed. Let’s use it as an inspiration for the future when making our travel strategies greener while not limiting our ability to be visible, active, and influential.”

The event closed with a clear plea to governments for a post-Covid recovery focused on Nature-based Solutions.

The outcomes of this global event are a good start for the run for the change that our planet desperately needs.

More information about the IUCN World Conservation Congress

EUROPARC Conference 2021

Protected Areas are at the forefront of NBS, if you want to learn how to make the most of them join the EUROPARC Conference 2021. You can register REGISTER HERE.

Next Webinar: Comment dépasser les frontières et développer la coopération entre les aires protégées frontalières ?

Scarpe - Escaut Plains European nature Park - Bruno Bosilo

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EUROPARC’s webinars are back after a summer break! Our first webinar will focus on Transboundary Cooperation and will be held entirely in French.

Dans le cadre de l’Année internationale de la paix et de la confiance 2021, il est important de parler du rôle des aires protégées transfrontalières pour le dialogue international et la protection de la nature, ainsi que de la manière dont nous pouvons améliorer la coopération transfrontalière.

Dans ce webinaire organisé par la Fédération EUROPARC et la section francophone d’EUROPARC, nous allons réfléchir sur ces questions, présenter le programme transfrontalier EUROPARC et ce que l’expérience et l’engagement du réseau des aires protégées transfrontalières (TransParcNet) peuvent apporter aux zones transfrontalières de la France avec Andorre, l’Espagne, l’Italie, l’Allemagne, la Suisse, la Belgique, mais aussi avec le Royaume-Uni, ainsi que le Brésil et le Surinam.

Le webinaire contiendra des éléments participatifs, nous avons hâte de vous entendre !

Programme

Welcome
Par Stefania Petrosillo – Fédération EUROPARC et par Matthieu Creuge – PNR Pyrénées Ariégeoises / Fédération des parcs naturels régionaux de France

Présentation du Programme de EUROPARC « Parcs Transfrontaliers – Suivant la conception de la nature »
Par Stefania Petrosillo – Fédération EUROPARC

L’Europe est un continent complexe avec des milliers d’années d’interaction humaine qui a créé de nombreuses frontières politiques. Cependant, la nature ne reconnaît jamais ces artefacts et les frontières créent des barrières artificielles à la gestion de ces précieuses ressources naturelles. Le programme et certificat transfrontalier EUROPARC «Parcs Transfrontaliers – Suivant la conception de la nature» est une méthodologie et une certification qui soutiennent les aires protégées transfrontalières dans un processus de compréhension mutuelle, de coopération et de gestion collaborative. Les parcs certifiées donnent lieu au réseau TransParcNet.

Etude de cas 1: Le Parc Naturel Transfrontalier Binntal Veglia Devero (IT/CH) : Préserver ensemble le patrimoine géologique, naturel et culturel des Alpes et participer au réseau TransParcNet de EUROPARC
Par Andreas Weissen et Daniele Piazza – Parc Naturel Transfrontalier Binntal Veglia Devero

Le Parc Naturel Transfrontalier Binntal Veglia Devero englobe le Parco Naturale Veglia Devero / Aires protégées d’Ossola, région du Piémont, Italie et le Landschaftspark Binntal, canton du Valais, Suisse. Cet environnement naturel est dominé par des rochers, des glaciers et des montagnes atteignant quelque 3.500 mètres d’altitude, des terres alpines, des pâturages, des tourbières et des prairies de fauche.

Un premier accord officiel de coopération transfrontalière entre les deux parcs date de 2013, mais les contacts et échanges de personnes des deux côtés de la chaîne alpine à travers le col d’Arbola/Albrun remontent à plus de 3000 ans. Depuis 2019 est membre très actif du réseau EUROPARC TransParcNet.

Etude de cas 2: 30 ans de coopération transfrontalière« à petits pas » jusqu’à la création d’un GECT (Groupes européen de coopération territoriale) franco-belge
Par Isabelle Zarlenga et Elise Caron – PNR Scarpe Escaut

Un même bassin de vie de près de 300 000 habitants, un continuum paysager et écologique autour des plaines de la Scarpe et de l’Escaut sont à l’origine d’une ambition partagée et d’une coopération spontanée entre les deux Parcs Scarpe-Escaut et Plaines de l’Escaut.

Ce sont 35 ans d’une politique ancrée dans les documents stratégiques des Parcs, 35 ans d’actions dont 18 projets INTERREG et une volonté aujourd’hui au travers du GECT, d’une gouvernance territoriale plus efficiente, facilitant le rapprochement des acteurs transfrontaliers pour des actions concrètes au service du cadre de vie au bénéfice des habitants.

Questions / Réponses, Partage d’expériences des participants, Débat.

Le webinaire durera environ 2h et sera organisé en français.

Intervenants

Stefania Petrosillo est chargée de mission du programme des parcs transfrontaliers pour EUROPARC. Elle coordonne le réseau TransParcNet et le représente au sein du Groupe de spécialistes de la conservation transfrontalière de l’UICN WCPA.

Matthieu Creuge est le directeur du Parc naturel régional Pyrénées Ariégeoises (FR). Il est co-animateur du  Groupe de travail transfrontalier de la Fédération des parcs naturels régionaux.

Andreas Weissen est chargé de mission coopération transfrontalière pour le Landschaftspark Binntal (CH)

Daniele Piazza est le directeur de Ente di Gestione delle Aree Protette dell’Ossola (Parcs Veglia Devero, Alta Valle Antrona) (IT)

Isabelle Zarlenga est la directrice du Parc naturel régional de Scarpe-Escaut (FR). Elle est co-animatrice du  Groupe de travail transfrontalier de la Fédération des parcs naturels régionaux.

Elise Caron est chargée de mission coopération transfrontalière pour le Scarpe-Escaut Plains European Nature Park (FR-BE)

Ce webinaire est organisé par :

LIFE e-Natura2000.edu: Layman’s report

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The LIFE e-Natura2000.edu project’s overall goal was to demonstrate the need for and value of creating competence-based continuous professional development programmes directly linked to EU priorities for nature. Layman’s report presents the project’s experiences, main conclusions and a set of recommendations important for future competence-based learning initiative.

The main aim of the project was to produce and test a flexible mix of blended learning tools and methods, designed to build and develop the specific competencies required for effective Natura 2000 management practices.

The competence-based approach was central to the project’s capacity building objectives and applied to benefit more effective (stronger and improved) practical implementation of the Nature Directives.

How LIFEedu worked

Project participants

A small group of 75 managers in both private and public sites were selected to join the project. Demand for places was high, but the project objectives were to work with a limited intake so that the tools and approaches could be thoroughly tested and evaluated.

As evidenced by the project evaluation results, all learning components and tools presented achieved very high levels of recommendation: participants’ feedback was extremely positive with 96% saying that they either are or were shortly planning to apply their learning in their work.

All the digital documents, presentations, references, videos have been very useful. I am already sharing and using them as working materials for other projects.

New tools

As a LIFE Preparatory project, a key goal for LIFEedu was to pilot its methods and tools and make results available to all interested in ways to improve the effectiveness of Natura 2000 management. Also, the project partners encouraged the core

eNatura2000 App

group of participants to share their learning with their colleagues.

In addition, two specific actions were implemented to explore various means of broadening the circle of nature managers, professionals, stakeholders, and landowners potentially involved in the project: a specific Smartphone App and a university-based ‘Summer School’.

The ‘top three’ purposes for using the app are to:

> Find useful contents and inspiration;

> Improve knowledge about Natura 2000 and,

> Connect with peers

Training Needs Analysis tool

Another project action involved the development and testing of an online Natura 2000 Training Needs Analysis tool (the TNA). By using the purpose-built TNA, all individuals that have Natura 2000 management responsibilities can self-assess their training needs, generate a personal report and use the results to plan better their future professional development actions.

The online tool for Training Needs Assessment (TNA) is free for use and available here!

Project courses

The project designed three innovative capacity building courses in English, Spanish and Romanian using both online and face-to-face methodologies.

Participants’ feedback reveals the main project benefits as being:

  • Refreshed knowledge and helped better understanding about Natura 2000’s role.
  • Focus on personal competencies, in particular practical communication tools, techniques and approaches, helped to improve conversations with partners.
  • Increased confidence to look for ‘next steps’ and management solutions, without getting stuck in the past.
  • Was a great resource for future personal, professional actions and a strong base to build on further.

The plan is to share my learning and this whole experience with the rest of my colleagues (19 in total) during a presentation followed by a workshop.

Project Conclusions

Click on the image to download the full version of the document

To a large extent, the future of Europe’s most precious habitats and species depends upon competent and confident nature managers. Their work to protect, maintain or restore nature merits continuous investments now for the future.

In order to ensure the quality of future professional capacity building programmes, it is essential to provide competence-based learning so that technical expertise and knowledge can be applied effectively: technical knowledge is not in itself enough.

The premise for LIFEedu was that, in order to be truly effective, capacity building must start from an assessment of competencies specifically required for work. As a LIFE Preparatory project, LIFE e-Natura2000.edu was designed to develop new tools and test diverse innovative approaches to build capacity and improve nature management practices by means of implementing a competence-based approach.

For participants and partners, the experience gains from the project will continue to have a lasting legacy.

Recommendations for future capacity building projects

The main learning gains as a result of the project enable a set of recommendations for future new initiatives and more ambitious future capacity building programmes. Specifically, the LIFEedu project has led to the development of Guidelines for Replicability and a new, ambitious project LIFE ENABLE to deliver a capacity building programme for nature managers, implemented on a Pan-European scale.

As part of LIFEedu’s lasting legacy, direct incentives to encourage competence-based approaches for capacity building across relevant project streams, with targeted and dedicated funding, include:

  • Promote the integration of the competence-based approach and guidelines generated by LIFEedu for use within other project applications focusing on capacity building for nature conservation managers.
  • Develop national level, comprehensive approaches and strategic plans for Natura 2000 management to promote greater efficiencies, increase consistency of management practices and enable effective use of resources allocated to capacity building.
  • Integrating LIFEedu’s approach into specific University modules and other academic programmes in future as a means to contribute to the training of future Natura 2000 managers in various academic and professional contexts.

LIFEedu’s legacy

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

The integration of a competence-based approach to capacity building for application across the EU and Europe, by all actors involved, will increasingly become central to the achievement of progress towards priorities for nature. Understanding competencies and how they can be developed will help to contribute to increased recognition of the benefits and gains to be realised from cohesive, evidence-based approaches to capacity building.

Based on LIFEedu’s work to identify and assess specific competencies required for effective management of Natura 2000, concrete steps can be taken at European and national levels to develop capacity building programmes tailored to the specific context of each country. Building further on LIFEedu’s results, it is possible to envisage the creation of a dedicated capacity building initiative for the professionalisation of Natura 2000 and protected area management.

Where next?

LIFEedu’s results will be immediately put to work in LIFE ENABLE. This new project will establish the European Nature Academy as the means to develop further training projects and capacity building programmes at a Pan-European scale.

As a logical development and extension of LIFEedu’s tested experiences, the European Nature Academy will:

  • Establish a European training hub to deliver widely accessible and tailor-made learning experiences for Natura 2000 managers.
  • Develop, test and implement innovative and accessible training activities that will support the delivery of EU policy by improving nature management practices in an extended protected area network that incorporates Natura 2000 sites.
  • Be open to all nature managers, but recognising the volume of habitat and specific management challenges involved, there will be a focus on forest and marine managers.
  • Boost individual, organisational and national capacities for Natura 2000 management by providing learning opportunities for individuals to train as trainers, mentors or facilitators of the project’s learning experiences.
  • Achieve this by mobilising external expertise and utilising the best advice and recommendations provided by newly formed collaborative platforms, which bridge academia and site management experience.
  • Create a body of replicable courses and tailor-made learning activities, making use of the full range of face-to-face, blended, and online possibilities.
  • Establish continuous evaluation and innovation of the various components of the training system, both at European and national levels: this would aim to deliver a pragmatic balance between an ambitious large-scale training system and the quality and “freshness” of each course, workshop, or learning activity.

Working across individual, organisational and national levels, such an approach will provide the basis for the development of a network of European training sites, supported by a network of trained trainers.

As such, LIFE ENABLE will apply practical development and delivery mechanisms to revise and update content and learning approaches on the basis of participants’, tutors’ and external experts’ feedback as part of continuous professional development programmes purpose-built for Europe’s nature and its managers.

To get even more detailed insights into LIFEedu’s Project, the library of useful and helpful instructions and recommendations for your own future initiatives, download the full Layman’s Report here: LIFEedu Layman’s Report