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BEST – voluntary scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in EU Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories

The BEST initiative seeks to promote the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of ecosystem services including ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation in the EU outermost regions and overseas countries and territories

Background: The EU Outermost Regions (ORs) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) include 34 political entities, covering a total land area equivalent to the EU area, and a marine territory which is the largest of the world.

Concern: ORs and OCTs include over 150 islands and harbour a biodiversity that is very rich and particularly at risk as islands are highly vulnerable to invasive species, development, and climate change impacts. Note that ORs and OCTs together host more than 20% of the world’s coral reefs and lagoons. For financial support (including for conservation), ORs and OTCs are often not eligible to benefit from the same funding sources as their neighbors, often missing out on funds specifically targeted at their regional ecosystems and threats. At the EU level, funding mechanisms are often not adapted to meet their particular needs.

Solution: to improve the situation, in 2010, the European Parliament adopted the BEST Preparatory Action which allowed the funding of 16 projects selected under the two open calls for proposals BEST 2011 and BEST 2012. Through a partnership with the French Agency for Development (AFD) two reserve list projects could be supported. There is a need to establish further partnerships and build a financial support mechanism sustainable for years to come, as many valuable projects still await financing. The BEST initiative consortium led by IUCN shall help to achieve this.

BEST is:

  • An open partnership bringing together a solid and experienced presence in the field (regional hub coordinators), a professional leading and supporting staff liaising with the local actors, the European Commission, the CBD Secretariat, donors and high level scientific and funding experts as advisers.
  • A field base and participative approach: 7 regional knowledge hubs, coordinated by staff involved in local projects, working for and with local stakeholders.
  • A science-based action strategy: for each region, with the participation of local actors, BEST will develop 7 regional ecosystem profiles, a proven tool to guide long-term conservation efforts and investments.
  • A networking instrument, connecting projects needing support with funders interested in saving some biodiversity hotspots of international importance.

Get involved!

Through this website, learn more about the exceptional biodiversity in the ORs and OCTs, the threats it faces, and the opportunities to get involved in bringing solutions. Discover projects conducted in each region or consult examples of best conservation practices. Go to the ‘projects in need of funding’ page to submit a project or, if you are a benefactor interested in helping to safeguard and restore precious biodiversity, vulnerable ecosystems and thus helping the people and economies who depend on them, to choose a project to bring to fruition.