PROmoting the Governance of Regional Ecosystem ServiceS (PROGRESS), is an Interreg Europe project funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The aim of the project is to initiate a process of exchange of experiences for maintaining nature’s biodiversity, goods and services: https://www.interregeurope.eu/progress/
According to the project coordinator, Besnik Mehmeti of ANCI Tuscany, Italy, “Our best achievement will be a qualitative change in environmental policies”. With these words at the Kick-off Meeting held in Florence last October 2019, the overarching objective of the project was clearly articulated.
Ecosystem services are defined as the benefits that humankind obtains from the workings of the natural world. They constitute the natural base for economic prosperity and quality of life. However, sustaining current production levels and practices without due consideration of natural processes is increasingly difficult and costly, contributing to ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss. The failure of the healthy functioning of ecosystem services will ultimately result in increasing dependence on imported goods and higher risk from diseases, natural disasters and climate change. There is thus an urgent need to improve the relevant regional policies and to provide multi-stakeholder solutions for protection and sustainable use of the natural capital provided by ecosystems. Through this project, partner regions have agreed to address this major challenge and respond appropriately.
At the core of the project is the involvement of policy makers and other relevant stakeholders to stimulate a multidimensional and dynamic exchange of experiences, in order to learn on how to improve their regional policies for biodiversity and ecosystem services. By contributing to and benefiting from a process of cross-fertilisation and dialogue between regional level networks and stakeholders, partners will benchmark their own experiences against those of their peers and learn about what works and what doesn’t in different regional contexts. Learning will inform policy and practice in the partner regions, thereby enabling common ownership of the good practices to be adopted.
In December (2019) at a conference on the subject held in Barcelona, Joan Pino, director of CREAF (the Spanish partner), of the Severo Ochoa center of excellence, said: “Now that we are developing the tools for mapping ecosystem services, it’s time to help policy-makers to use them efficiently”.
The partners; the National Association of Italian Municipalities Tuscany (IT), Riga Technical University (LV), Eastern & Midland Regional Assembly (IE), Tolna County Development Agency (HU), CREAF (ES) and University of Craiova (RO), will work on this interregional cooperation across two main phases. During the 1st phase (3 years), action plans for each target policy instrument will be designed based on the identification, analysis and exchange of Good Practices around the following issues:
- Measuring the costs and benefits of ecosystem services derived from land use.
- Supporting the horizontal integration of the ecosystem concerns into sectorial policies and plans.
- Exploring innovative financial and marketing mechanisms for payment for ecosystem services.
- Landscape governance for economic and environmental sustainability.
The 2nd phase (1 year) is dedicated to the implementation and monitoring of the action plans previously developed.
The first round of Good Practices selection will take place in Barcelona on 31st March and 1st April 2020. These Good Practices are informed by the 1st thematic cycle which focuses on the measurement of the costs and benefits of ecosystem services derived from land use.
PROGRESS PRESS RELEASE 1, 28th January 2020