One year after the adoption of the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy and just one day before the International Day of Biodiversity (22nd May) the Polish Science Contact Agency in Brussels, a liaison office of the Polish Academy of Sciences, held the webinar ‘Science for EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy”.
The event gathered in one virtual space many inspiring speakers and about 160 attendees coming from all corners of Europe and beyond! Among the on-line participants there was a huge representation of R&I institutions such as research centres and universities. Some of attendees were linked to various institutions of funding agencies, ministries, national parks etc. The event brought also attention of a broad representatives of national, regional and local stakeholders, incl. NGOs, enterprises and local authorities.
The webinar was a great chance to get first-hand information from various experts in this field, representing European Commission, European Partnership and international networks, universities and research centres. Furthermore, it was an inspiration to engage and discuss among the event’s guest s how science is paramount to the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy and what are the key funding instruments supporting R&I actions.
The webinar was opened by Prof. Paweł Rowiński, Vice President of the Polish Academy of Sciences, a geophysicist and hydrologist who coordinates the science advisory group on climate crisis at the Academy. During his speech prof. Rowiński emphasized that biodiversity constitutes a highly important area of research performed by many Institutes of the Academy as well as by a number of advisory committees of the PAS, which provide expertise and professional guidelines in the crucial issues linked to biodiversity and climate change. He also shared with the audience a brief reflection on the uniqueness of some areas of Poland that are examples of best preserved, and only slightly transformed by the human complexes in the middle Europe, such as Biebrza Marshes and Białowieża Forest.
The first session of this webinar gave participants a unique chance to review the state-of-play, challenges and opportunities that lay ahead of us in fostering the involvement of researchers, innovators and other relevant actors in the process of the Strategy’s implementation. At the beginning of the session, Mr Stefan Leiner, head of the Biodiversity Unit at the Directorate General for Environment of the European Commission, familiarised the audience with the main objectives of EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy as well as both the current achievements and future challenges in the Strategy’s implementation. Also, the mission and upcoming activities of the Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity, established in October 2020 and operating under Joint Research Centre (JRC) were shown. Thanks to the next presentation of Mr Joachim Maes, scientific project leader in the JRC, the participants had an unique opportunity to learn for the first time about key messages on the state of ecosystems in the European Union based on newly released on 17th of May summary for policymakers and broader audience. This report refers to the EU Ecosystem Assessment, released by the JRC in October 2020, which provides a knowledge foundation for evaluation of the previous EU targets regarding biodiversity protection by 2020, and a baseline for the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030.
The third representative of the European Commission, MsJosefina Enfedaque, senior expert on biodiversity research at the Directorate General for Research and Innovation, spoke about foreseen R&I funding instruments under the Horizon Europe (mainly under cluster 6) which might be crucial in mobilizing cross-national and cross-sectoral research consortia to get involved in the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030. At the same time, Ms Enfedaque informed participants about provisional dates of Horizon Europe cluster 6 Info Days and brokerage events. On the top of this, she also described foreseen calls for proposals within 1st destination of the cluster 6: "Biodiversity and ecosystem services". This highly informative intervention was followed by MsHilde Eggermont, chair of the newly established European Partnership on Biodiversity, who gave us closer insight into the Partnership’s mission, objectives – mostly those reflecting the implementation of the Strategy. She also allowed the webinar attendees to discover the expected actions to be taken within Partnership in the upcoming months and revealed the upcoming thematic scopes of the future calls for applicants.
Over a second session of the webinar – moderated by Mr Krzysztof Niedziałkowski, environmental social scientist affiliated in the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the PAS – a particular attention was paid to European forests, which boast amazing level of biodiversity and which can be considered as key for climate crisis mitigation. The first speaker of this session – Ms Elisabeth Pötzelsberger, representative of the European Forest Institute – presented the mission, main goals, and activities of the EFI, especially those strengthening R&I in this field of research and supporting the implementation of the new EU forest strategy. In the sprit of widening participation she also shared some success stories and valuable links between EFI and Poland. The next speaker, Mr Mika Kalio, chair of the international ForestValue network, spoke about extremely valuable actions already taken by the ForestValue under Horizon 2020, examples of successful projects funded by the network, as well as plans for the upcoming years, including the one of establishing a new Future Forests and Forestry European Partnership.
Two last presentations provided a practical insight into the activities undertaken by Polish researchers in the field of forest protection, highlighting the most important experiences and best practices to share. Mr Bogdan Jaroszewicz, head of Białowieża Geobotanical Station of the University of Warsaw, presented the participants his research activities and key lessons learnt from the international research collaboration, including projects funded under Horizon 2020. This was followed by the intervention of Mr Rafał Kowalczyk, head of the Mammal Research Institute of the PAS in Białowieża, who spoke mainly about the Institute research activities being focused on the conservation of forest ecosystems, especially those referred to Białowieża Forest. Moreover, the collaboration with non-academic actors were presented.
During this session, a great need and a huge added value of international collaboration and stakeholders engagement in the field of forest-related research were highlighted by all speakers. The debate on new forest strategy was significantly important on the Polish ground due to the fact that in Poland there are so many valuable forest complexes, including the unique primeval Białowieża Forest, which was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The event was also an excellent occasion to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the very first nature reserve in this area, latter transformed into the well-recognized Białowieski National Park.
The webinar was also a great opportunity for networking, mobilising and reinforcing cooperation between European scientists, research organisations and various actors in the field of revitalization of natural ecosystems. We believe, that events like this will help us to work together – hand in hand – for ourselves, for our precious planet and for future generations!
Please note that all the speakers’ presentations as well as all abovementioned documents (strategies and reports) are available for you in pdf format on the “Downloads” section and may allow you to discover much more about all issues raised and discussed during the event! On the website you can also learn more about each of the event speakers.