OpenNESS partners reflect on progress and impact
Over four years of joint work has almost come to an end. During the final OpenNESS Annual Meeting in Smolenice, Slovakia, the participants presented research outcomes and discussed the impact of OpenNESS’ efforts to operationalize natural capital and ecosystem services. There was ample time to reflect on issues such as what has been learned about conceptual frameworks and methodologies that are helpful in carrying out ecosystem assessments, and the opportunities and constraints in integrating the ecosystem services concept into practice. The meeting also focused on achievements with respect to the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem services on the one hand, and the links between ecosystem services and human well-being on the other.
ECNC, leader of the OpenNESS work package on communication and outreach, took part in the meeting. ECNC’s Executive Director Rob Wolters presented developments in Oppla, the new virtual knowledge hub.
This online platform and repository of resources related to ecosystem services and natural capital was launched during last year’s European Ecosystem Services Conference in Antwerp. One of the challenges is to integrate synthesized project outcomes into Oppla. During a dedicated session, participants discussed the role that this knowledge platform can play in future research by supporting the effective use and uptake of its resources, as well as expanding and updating them. Oppla is currently developing well and contains already close to 90 inspiring case studies.
When discussing the way forward and what comes next, one point that came to the fore was that research priorities in the future should aim to further integrate societal challenges, enabling us to better handle the tensions between society and natural processes and to pave the way for synergies. Healthy ecosystems and their connection to human well-being will become increasingly important, and more research is needed to better understand the interlinkages between the healthy ecosystem services supply side and the societal demand and use side. Future priorities should also include integrating ecosystem services more systematically into sustainability goals and other areas of society.
The meeting was hosted by OpenNESS partner ILE-SAS in Slovakia, from 20 to 23 March 2017, and brought together about 80 participants from the OpenNESS partners.