PROGRESS: 1st International Workshop takes place online

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What was initially planned as a training workshop for local stakeholders in Latvia became an international online event thanks to our partners at Riga Technical University and Riga TV24. The online workshop – which took place on the 10th of June – involved experts from Spain, Latvia, Ireland and Italy discussing the implementation of successful Good Practices related to the measurement and recognition of the costs and benefits of Ecosystem Services in our regions.

In opening the event, Dr. Tālis Juhna, Vice-Rector for Research at Riga Technical University noted that “the valuation of Ecosystem Services is as difficult as the many aspect to consider. Economy, environment, cultural heritage… all should be measured and properly estimated.”

As highlighted throughout the event, Ecosystem Services are central to the Green Economy concept and are incredibly valuable for our wellbeing, but are often overlooked given the difficulties associated with their measurement. Growing understanding of their economic, environmental and cultural value, along with innovative means of valuing, measuring and mapping them are changing this. For example, Ms. Ilona Mendzina – from the Latvian Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development – discussed how investments in habitat restoration projects have resulted in better cost/benefit ratios than investment in water infrastructure. Furthermore, the event highlighted how methodologies for the valuation, assessment and mapping of Ecosystem Services are transferable internationally, despite the prevalence of different ecological environments. Indeed, Ms. Mendzina welcomed the PROGRESS approach whereby successful Good Practices from one European region could clearly be transferred to another, even from “the Mediterranean to the temperate Latvian forest.”

With this aim in mind, four of the best Good Practices presented at the 1st Online Thematic Seminar held on the 31st of March were selected for the event. At the seminar, a total of nine Good Practices were presented from across the partner regions. After the event, each partner scored the practices of partner regions on the basis of evidence of success and their relevance and transferability to their own region. The two Irish practices presented by Dr Owen Douglas (EMRA) – the ‘All-Ireland Pollinator Plan Framework’ and the ‘National Ecosystem and Ecosystem Services Mapping Pilot’ – scored highly and were ranked 1st and 3rd respectively! A write-up of each of these Good Practices will be included in the PROGRESS Project Handbook.

In order ensure thematic and regional variety in the time available, the challenges and opportunities associated with the implementation of four Good Practices were discussed at the recent International Workshop – One each from Spain, Latvia, Ireland and Italy.

First, Carles Castell, head of the Territorial Planning and Analysis Office of Barcelona Council, showed an excellent example of how information could help policy makers in efficient decision making though the SITxell territorial analysis system.

The second Good Practice presented was the LIFE Ecosystem Services Assessment Methodology. In her presentation, Dr. Elina Konstantinova (Association of Baltic Coasts) set out an economic assessment of services as well as potential scenarios to compare the consequences of different decisions.

After lunch, Dr Úna FitzPatrick – project coordinator of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan Framework – discussed the implementation successes and lessons learned so far and explained how the Plan has gathered an impressive number of committed stakeholders. Furthermore, Úna encouraged attendees to submit their ideas and suggestions for the next All-Ireland Pollinator Plan (2021-2025). We extend that invitation to you!

The final Good Practice discussed was the SOS4LIFE project, presented by Fabrizio Ungaro (Italian Council of Research, Institute of Bioeconomy). His presentation focused on the important (but often overlooked) Ecosystem Services provided by soil.

The next step for PROGRESS is to identify Best Practices for the horizontal integration of Ecosystem Services into sectoral policies. Keep updated about this and much more on our webpage! For further information about PROGRESS from an Irish perspective, please contact Dr Owen Douglas, EU Project Officer for PROGRESS:

In case you missed the 1st International Workshop and would be interested in viewing some or all of the event, the full recording is now available here along with the Agenda and Presentation Slides. The approximate start time for each speaker according to the countdown clock in the video is included below.

Time Speaker and Organisation
-4.36.30 Dr. Tālis Juhna, Vice-Rector for Research, Riga Technical university, Riga, Latvia
-4:26.25 Ms. Ilona Mendzina, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Riga, Latvia
-4:20:05 Mr. Besnik Mehmeti, Lead Partner of the Progress project, Association of Tuscan Municipalities, Florence, Italy
-4:09:15 Carles Castell, Natural Areas Department Provincial Council of Barcelona, Spain (SITxell)
-3:27:15 Dr Armands Auzins, Riga Technical university, Riga, Latvia (Conceptual overview)
-2:51:15 Dr Elina Konstantinova, Association “Baltic Coasts”, Latvia (Life Ecosystem Services Assessment Methodology)
-1:23:15 Dr Úna FitzPatrick, Co-ordinator of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, National Biodiversity Data Centre, Ireland (AIPP)
-0:50:00 Fabrizio Ungaro, National Council of Research, Institute of Bioeconomy, Italy (SOS4LIFE)
-0:10:35 Enrique Doblas, CREAF – Summing up (Communications partner)

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