New Beginnings in Brussels – Day Two roundup

Today, the excitement of #EUGreenWeek 2020 continued with the opening of the virtual conference in Brussels. Sessions focused on the important role biodiversity will play in helping to recover and rebuild in the wake of the global pandemic, and highlighted the recently published 2020 State of Nature report.

This new immersive virtual experience enabled participants to watch sessions live, explore exhibitions – and even network.

Alongside the virtual conference, a number of thought-provoking Partner Events took place across Europe.

Explore our other highlights below.

Quotes of the day

Quotes of the day

We don’t want to inherit multiple crises - biodiversity crisis, climate crisis, economic and health crisis - these things are not only scary, they are life-threatening. We therefore need all sectors and all generations to work together on this.

Nadine Schuller, Founder of Pollinator Ambassadors

COVID-19 has underlined the importance for the EU to build a more resilient, sovereign food system that can ensure the continuity of our European supply chains, especially through local production systems. Because agriculture plays a positive role in restoring cultivated biodiversity and in fighting climate change, it offers us plenty of opportunities to embrace green and inclusive recovery plans for Europe.

Mathias Vicherat, General Secretary of Danone

Today around Europe

20 October (14:00-15:30)

A key highlight from today was the opening session of the virtual conference in Brussels. Keynote speaker Virginijus Sinkevičius (European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries), shed light on what we can learn from the pandemic. He invited participants to consider how biodiversity can support recovery, society and the economy.

Attendees also heard from an international panel of experts who presented different perspectives related to tackling environmental challenges, and possible solutions in a post-pandemic world. Experts included: Mathias Vicherat (Secretary General, Danone), Patricia Zurita (Chief Executive, BirdLife), Nadine Schuller, (Founder of Pollinator Ambassadors) and Hans Bruyninckx (Executive Director, European Environment Agency), with closing remarks from Florika Fink-Hooijer (Director-General of DG Environment, European Commission).

In particular, speakers looked at how policies, such as the EU Green Deal and the new EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, can support the COVID-19 recovery process. They highlighted that Green Week is an opportunity for participants to gain insight into possible ways to build a resilient world.

20 October (16:00) - How healthy is our nature? The 2020 State of Nature report

In this thought-provoking session, organised by the European Environment Agency (EEA), participants learnt more about the main findings of the 2020 State of Nature report. Published every six years, the report is the most comprehensive assessment of the state of nature and biodiversity conservation in Europe today. Key takeaways were that protected habitats and species continue to decline, and without urgent action, our shared natural heritage and the vital services it provides will continue to erode, ultimately putting human health and prosperity at risk.

#EUGreenWeek Partner Events, which also continued today, underlined the importance of linking biodiversity data and conservation decision-making processes. Ongoing activities focused on climate change and environmental issues as well as the importance of robust regional policies to protect nature.

20 October (10:00 – 11:30) - Creating better regional policies to protect and restore nature

Organised by the Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform, this networking webinar gave participants a chance to connect with experts in the field, hear success stories, and find answers to questions about developing regional policies that protect and restore nature.

After a warm welcome from Astrid Severin (Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform), the session started. Keynote speaker Karin Zaunberger (Directorate-General for Environment) spoke about the new EU Biodiversity Strategy, while Erik Gerritsen (Institute for European Environmental Policy), discussed the future of biodiversity conservation in a COVID-19 context.

Next, Wim Hiemstra (lead partner of the BIOGOV project) shared examples of improved governance and stakeholder support for biodiversity projects. Following that, Gerard Bota Cabou (lead partner of the BID-REX project) emphasised the importance of linking biodiversity data and the conservation decision-making processes.

The session wrapped up with an interactive panel discussion. Speakers shared experiences and showcased ways to improve governance, achieve broad stakeholder support and facilitate multi-stakeholder partnerships at regional levels.

20 October (10:00) - More than bees exhibition in Barcelona

Hosted by the Museum of Natural Sciences in Barcelona, the ‘More than Bees’ exhibition highlighted the vital work carried out by bees and other pollinators – fundamental to our very existence.

By navigating a series of virtual exhibition tools, participants were able to gain insight into what pollinators do, their important connection to food and human health, their decline and possible solutions. Participants also learned about what people can do to reverse dwindling pollinator numbers.

20-21 October - Natural risk and climate change in mountain areas

Mountain areas are some of the most affected by natural risks. Due to the effects of climate change, risks like fires, droughts, floods and erosion are expected to increase.

The Consortium of the Working Community of the Pyrenees is calling for good practices in managing and preventing natural risks, within the framework of the SUDOE MONTCLIMA project. Today, their seminar on natural risks and climate change in mountain areas took place in Soria, Spain – and was also accessible virtually.

The event highlighted the link between climate change and the increased frequency and intensity of associated extreme weather events. Attendees were also able to gain a better understanding of the MONTCLIMA project – its progress, future objectives and commitment to strengthening the resilience of the SUDOE (Southern France, Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar) mountain territories.

Speakers from EURAC, CESEFOR and the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança provided insight into managing natural risk through transnational cooperation and analysing vulnerability to natural hazards. They also shared examples of state-of-the-art risk management practices in the SUDOE.

The second part of the transnational seminar continues tomorrow from 9:00. Sessions will explore good practices in transnational cooperation and reveal key learnings. The day will finish with a guided tour of the provincial forest fire command centre in Soria.

20-22 October - Facing the future in Nijmegen, Netherlands

Organised by Eerlijke Jongeren Voor Ouderen (EJVO), the Face the Future 2.0 event commended cross-generational collaboration.

As an NGO dedicated to connecting younger with older generations, EJVO’s session continued to bridge the gap, raise awareness and provide insight into different experiences.

Discussions focused on ways to build a more equitable and inclusively prosperous future by working together on matters like Sustainable Development Goals.

Speakers outlined EJVO’s work and elaborated on projects that brought younger and older people together, allowing them to exchange experiences, broaden perspectives and change the future together.

Talks also highlighted the potential reach of working collaboratively. Successful projects in one region can inspire projects in other regions, and globally – and this cascade effect has ecological, economic and social benefits.

Exploring Las Rozas Cork in Spain

Organised by Ayuntamiento de Las Rozas de Madrid, this session highlighted the ecological importance of the area, the impact of climate change – and the resulting loss of biodiversity.

Adhering to strict COVID-19 safety guidelines, small groups of participants explored Las Rozas during a guided 20-minute tour.

The tour showcased many specimens uniquely found in the area. It also provided first-hand insight into the value of the landscape and why it must be preserved and protected.

Participants were invited to plant an oak tree during the session to support reforestation plans, and learnt how small acts like this have the potential to transform the area.

Coming up tomorrow

Coming up tomorrow

Join us from 9:30 tomorrow to learn about sustainability in schools and cities, social agriculture, biodiversity and environmental connectivity – and much more. Tune into the LIFE Awards Ceremony at 15:15 to celebrate the best environmental and climate action projects!

Our principal priority is the health, safety and wellbeing of our speakers, moderators, exhibitors and participants, and so we have been monitoring the situation concerning the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak constantly. Due to the current situation and restrictions, it has been decided that EU Green Week 2020 will be available exclusively online.

You will have the opportunity to join the EU Green Week in a new immersive virtual experience. Not only will you be able to watch all the sessions live and interact with the speakers, but you will also have the possibility to explore the exhibitions and network with the other attendants just as if you were there !
The virtual event platform will be soon open - all you have to do is to register and you will gain access to the event from your home or office.
If you are interested in attending the virtual event, you can leave your e-mail address here and we will contact you as soon as the registration platform is available.