Symposium ‘Biodiversity in the Netherlands, one step beyond’
On 13 April 2016, ECNC’s Executive Director Rob Wolters delivered a ‘setting the scene’ speech at the European symposium ‘Biodiversity in the Netherlands, one step beyond’, held at Eemlandhoeve, in Bunschoten-Spakenburg, the Netherlands.
Participants came from 20 European countries; the various stakeholder groups included nature conservationists, farmers, and EC and national government officials.
Rob Wolters introduced the state of nature in Europe, while zooming in on the Netherlands. He compared the situation during the Dutch Presidency of the EU in 1991, when the EU Habitats Directive was politically adopted, with that of the current Dutch Presidency. In view of the inadequate progress made in five of the six targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, he recommended a change of paradigm in dealing with biodiversity and Natura 2000.
Mr Wolters stressed that nature and biodiversity are not threats to land use or economic development in the EU, but are vital elements. He proposed mobilizing the full potential of nature and Natura 2000 to boost circular and green economy. An important recommendation was the inclusion of all relevant local stakeholders in the functioning of Natura 2000 areas in order to strengthen Natura 2000 as a people’s network. He made a plea for market mechanisms paying for ecosystem services delivered by land users, including farmers, and said: ‘We should finally make it work.’
He said that we should work towards a Common Agricultural Policy that does not greenwash but truly greens our countryside by delivering public goods. Millions of people are passionate about ‘their’ nature, ‘their’ landscapes, ‘their’ species, and we should cherish this. He emphasized that it is important to remember that millions of farmers work hard to make a living and it was farmers who created many of the landscapes that we now value.
Mr Wolters said it is time to move Europe and EU nature and biodiversity to the field of positive energy again: ‘Time to build, time to trust, time to focus on people and nature, on “diversity in unity in the EU”, and on pride.’
He concluded his speech by stating that in order to achieve a truly circular and competitive Europe, we have to focus on people and nature: ‘Economy should serve, not lead and determine.’