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BEST – voluntary scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories of European overseas – aims to support the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of ecosystem services including ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation in the EU Outermost Regions (ORs) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs). Click here to take a tour of the regions and EU overseas entities.

EU Overseas biodiversity is exceptionally rich and is recognized as being of international importance. ORs and OCTs are part of biodiversity hotspots and are key actors for the implementation of international and regional conservation targets and to foster regional cooperation in crucial areas of the world. In July 2008 a conference on "The European Union and its Overseas Entities: Strategies to counter Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss" was held in La Réunion under the French Presidency of the European Union resulting in the “Message from Reunion Island”. BEST is one follow-up to the "Message from Reunion Island"pdf(737 kB) and its importance was again highlighted in the 2014 "Message from Guadeloupe"pdf(170 kB).

In the frame of the BEST Preparatory Action adopted by the European Parliament in 2010 and 2011 two open calls for proposals BEST-2011 and BEST-2012 were published and allowed the funding of 16 projects in the regions of the Pacific, Indian Ocean, Caribbean, French Guiana, Greenland, Antarctic, South Atlantic and Macaronesia, addressing issues such as activities for designation and management of terrestrial and marine protected areas; activities for combatting invasive alien species, synergies using ecosystem services for climate change adaptation and mitigation; valuation of ecosystem services; increasing knowledge; networking, education, capacity building and outreach activities and involving organisations in the Outermost Regions, in the Overseas Countries and Territories, in Member States, NGOs, regional organisations and International Organisations.

The result of the calls also showed that the stakeholders, the countries, territories and regions are willing to invest themselves in BEST and that they have moved away from a classical donor-recipient relationship and developed more of a partnership approach, which is in line with the EU Biodiversity Strategy.

In the end of 2012 a first partnership with the French Development Aid Agency (AfD) provided an additional support of 800 000 € supporting 2 reserve list proposals and supporting the work towards a sustainable scheme.

In 2013 an open call for tender was published aiming to create the critical mass to achieve the transition towards a sustainable scheme, which will allow swift and easy access for funding BEST activities. It needs to be stressed that the work shall be carried out in collaboration with on-going activities and build on already existing achievements.

Explore the site to learn more about ORs and OCTs and the geographical regions where they are located. Discover their exceptional biodiversity and valuable ecosystem services, and see how you can contribute to maintain them, for the benefit of all.