“New Voices, New Visions, New Values – for People and Nature in Europe”
was the theme of our Conference and the moto of our inspiring Plenary Session. The session was moderated by the Daniel Deusdado, journalist and Information Director of RTP (national Portuguese TV and Radio).
Read below a summary of the Plenary Session and download the presentations available.
António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General
Our delegates were welcomed by a special Video-Message from Mr António Guterres, United Nations General-Secretary. In his message, Mr Guterres praised the work of ADRIMAG and EUROPARC in organising such an important event and added that the Conference is “an excellent opportunity to debate and highlight the role of Protected Areas in the context of touristic, environmental, social, cultural and economic sustainability”, especially relevant in the context of the UN International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
Monsignor Francisco Madero Frojan, Vatican
The first of our invitees, Monsignor Francisco Madero Frojan, introduced the concept of “ecological spirituality” and shared the vision of the Papal Encyclical LAUDATO SI’: On Care For Our Common Home remembering us that “Earth is our common heritage and we need to look at the human roots of this ecological crisis (…) and look for new models for progress and economy”.
Karmenu Vella, European Commission
Due to Agenda incompatibility, Mr. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, sent us an important video highlighting the need for a better connection between nature and people. Mr Vella stressed that “protected areas raise awareness of the value of nature and deliver multiple benefits, but we need a better connection to nature and for that we need good city plans, that integrate nature and green spaces”.
This is the second time Mr Vella surprises us with a welcoming video (see the welcoming video-message from EUROPARC Conference 2016), this time praising even more the work of EUROPARC “in the promotion of protected areas and development of sustainable tourism”.
Humberto Delgado Rosa, European Commission
Following the inspirational video-message of Mr Vella, Humberto Delgado Rosa, Director for Natural Capital on the Directorate-General Environment, shared with us how the EU is working towards a positive leap for the future of nature and people in Europe. The recently launched “Action Plan for people, nature and the economy” was the main topic of his presentation.
Mr Delgado Rosa briefly described the Fitness Check Process (that the basis of the Action Plan), detailed the 4 priority areas of action and highlighted the “essential role of regional and local authorities” in implementing the Action Plan, remembering EUROPARC’s key-role in delivering and broadcasting the Action Plan.
Dominique Leveque, Mayor and Park President
Dominique Leveque is the Mayor of AŸ-Champagne (France), Councillor of the Department of Marne and the President of the Nature Regional Park Montagne de Reims. He has long experience of bridging parks and politics in his role as Mayor and Park President and has been a source of inspiration for his politician colleagues within the Department of Marne. During his presentation, we showed how a Mayor can make a difference if he is tuned into sustainability and protection of natural resources…
Mr Leveque firstly introduced how a Nature Regional Park is created and shared several initiatives he has been promoting within his Municipality – from community gardens to a treatment plant powered by a solar greenhouse or a “walking BUS to go to school”!
Erika Stanciu, former State Secretary in Romania
Erika Stanciu is the Director of ProPark, an NGO that works for Protected Areas in Romania. With a scientific background as a Forester, Erika has worked in several NGOs in Romania for nature conservation, forest protection, education and capacity building for protected area professionals. She was far from thinking that she would, one day in her life, have a political position! It all happened last year, when the Romanian Government decided to have a “one-year Technocrat Government” and invited Erika to be the State Secretary for Biodiversity Conservation and Protected Areas in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests.
“Nature is the basis of everything that happens in our society but most decision makers are passive towards nature conservation”, Mrs Stanciu stressed how different (and effective) it is to have a political position, comparing decades of lobbying work as an NGO and one-year work as a State Secretary. She shared a model of passive and active environmental awareness and answered some interesting questions…What is the gap between political aspiration and real life? What can be changed? How attitude and good governance can make a leap in the system?
Marina Silva, former Minister of Environment in Brazil
Marina Silva was the Minister for Environment in 2003-2008. During her mandate, 25 million hectares of new National Parks have been created in the Brazil network and more than 12 million young people participated in environmental actions all over the country. She is an active environmental activist, especially concerned with the Amazonian deforestation, and is currently Senator in the Brazilian Parliament. As the final keynote speaker of our Plenary Session, Marina made a brilliant sum up of the previous interventions and focused her speech on how to integrate economy and ecology in the same equation.
Mrs Silva highlighted that nature is a long-term commitment that escapes from the short-term profitable model we are living in. “Politics is wrongly made of short-term measures… how can a model that disrespects culture, promotes social inequality and environmental disgrace, be the right one?”. From the urgent need for a new political agenda, Marina stressed how ecological values for the humanity are fundamental: “there is no ecology without adequate anthropology and I believe a different model based on integration rather than control is urgently needed.”