Are you aware of these amazing facts?
The EU’s Outermost Regions (ORs) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) include 34 political entities which: (1) cover a total land area equivalent to the EU (2) cover the largest marine territory in the world (3) host more than 20% of the world’s coral reefs and lagoons, and (4) are home to 4 of 36 global hotspots biodiversity: Caribbean Islands, New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Macaronesian Archipelagos. EU Overseas host unique and amazing ecosystems of global importance but these ecosystems are severely under threat from climate change, invasive species, and habitat degradation, fragmentation and loss.
In 2010, the BEST initiative was launched 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’s Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories.
The EU’s ORs and OCTs hold 80% of the EU’s Biodiversity and are Ambassadors for the EU.
Humberto DELGADO ROSA, Director Natural Capital, DG ENV
Nature provides for us, and it is clearly in our interest to protect ecosystems; ecosystems protect us from climate change impacts.
Manuel CARMONA YEBRA, DG Clima, European Commission
During ‘’the BEST Future conference’ (See news item below) that took place on 28 November, MEPs, Ministers, European Commission representatives, and partners met in Brussels to share their experiences and take stock on where BEST is in terms of securing a long lasting partnership and stable financing mechanism that keeps the momentum going and allows the BEST initiave to continue into the future.
BEST is one of the EU’s most ambitious intiatives protecting biodiversity and ecosystems. Now is the time to secure financing for a common and dedicated mechanism to take the initiative post 2020 and into the future.
Maurice PONGA, MEP
Since its beginning, the BEST initiative has opened 9 calls for proposals for small and medium grants and supported financing of 80 projects with €10.8 million in support and more to follow soon.
Everyone agreed that the BEST projects truly demonstrate the effectiveness of small grants for unlocking the local potential and how local actors can have a big impact when they have access to even modest levels of financing.
Nous devons repenser nos outre-mer, nos îles, avec la résilience de nos écosystèmes pour maître-mot.
Le programme BEST a montré la nécessité d’accélérer nos politiques de préservation et de reconquête de la biodiversité.
Annick GIRARDIN, Ministre des outre-mer
But it is also evident that there is still an enormous need because the demand for funding largely outcompeted the budget available for the open calls. Many eligible projects have not yet been funded.
Although a small drop in an ocean, the results of the BEST Initiative are impressive locally: the number of actors it has mobilized, the new partnerships that have been built, and how BEST has raised awareness for biodiversity in the EU’s ORs and OCTs at all levels.
Stefan LEINER, European Commission
As the day progressed many interventions appreciated the diversity and flexibility of the scheme, which matches the different needs and capacities in the ORs and OCTs. One just has to look at the BEST projects funded so far in the seven geographical regions which spread across the world: Pacific, Indian Ocean, Caribbean, Polar/Sub-polar and North/South Atlantic. Projects cover marine to terrestrial landscapes, and range from protected area designation and management to tackling invasive species, creating synergies using ecosystem services for climate change adaptation and mitigation, protecting endangered species, communication, education, capacity building and much more.
BEST has also increased the recognition of the importance of biodiversity in the EU’s ORs and OCTs. Further, as Party to the CBD and other global conventions, the EU can use and harness the BEST initiative in ORs and OCTs as an engine to contribute to the achievement of international commitments.
The BEST initiative has unlocked the potential of the EU’s ORs and OCTs to contribute to achieving the Aichi targets. The CBD stands ready to collaborate with BEST partners to support efforts and move the BEST initiative into a more permanent mechanism.
Cristiana PASCA PALMER, CBD Executive Secretary
BEST has provided key seed funding for many important activities that would not have happened otherwise. But there was time to discuss and showcase only a few of the successful initiatives such as the achievements of PISUNA and COCA LOCA projects described below:
PISUNA, or "Piniakkanik Sumiiffinni Nalunaarsuineq" which is its Greenlandic name. This partnership between the Greenland Government and European Commission led to the creation of a field-based scheme which enables Greenlandic fishers and hunters to monitor living resources and propose management decisions. For the first time ever, PISUNA gave indigenous fishers and hunters a voice and their observations are now supporting decision making in Greenland. So much so that PISUNA has led to the creation and implementation of 500 management measures! The success of this venture has even found its way to the UN General Assembly.
COCA LOCA, Connectivity of Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta) in Western Indian Ocean. This project, funded by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) has brought countries in the region together with nesting sites of endangered loggerhead turtles to work together to learn more about, protect and manage this amazing species.
As the day ended, participants agreed about the success of BEST so far. The main take home messages are the following:
The 1-day event in Brussels on 28 November 2017 will mark the end of the activities funded under the BEST Preparatory Action on promoting conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of ecosystem services including ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation in the EU's Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories and take stock on where we are with regards to building a sustainable partnership. The event will be composed of technical and high level sessions.
For registration please contact Ms Sylvie Rockel Sylvie.Rockel@iucn.org
Sovereign island nations, countries with islands and EU overseas entities have taken another step to strengthen collaboration through the launch of the BEST Challenge through the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA). Launched by Dr. Humberto Delgado Rosa, Director for Natural Capital, European Commission, with Dr. Kedrick Pickering, Deputy Premier of the British Virgin Islands during a high level event at the 13th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP-13) in December 2016, The BEST Challenge is the first interregional challenge to be promoted through GLISPA.
Given the urgent need for global action on climate change, sustainability and social development, solutions emerging from the EU overseas can be bright spots to show us how to more rapidly achieve both global sustainable development and conservation goals in Europe and around the world. This will contribute to achieving the CBD’s Strategic Plan and its Aichi Targets, as well as the United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate.
A 3-year project 'BEST RUP' has started on 15 January 2017. Its aim is to implement the pilot project 'inventory of species and habitats and environmentally sensitive areas in the French Outermost Regions (ORs)' submitted by the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Younous Omarjee.
BEST RUP is taking advantage of any possible synergies with the work carried out under the BEST preparatory action, which privileges a voluntary and participative approach for the development of regional ecosystem profiles, the identified key biodiversity areas (KBAs) and the collection of information on species and habitats done by the BEST III consortium.
In its conclusion of 16 December 2015, the Environment Council noted the results of the preparatory action on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories of European Overseas (BEST), the funding available under the Commission's BEST 2.0 Programme, and urged the Commission and the Member States to move forward on sustainable partnerships dedicated to mobilising resources to protect the unique ecosystems and the services they provide in the EU Outermost Regions (ORs) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs). BEST RUP is conceived as a further element to build a sustainable partnership to promote the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of ecosystem services including ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation, and nature-based solutions in the EU's ORs and OCTs.
The project will deliver lists of species and habitats of the French ORs, explore the feasibility of Mapping and Assessing of Ecosystem Services (MAES see https://biodiversity.europa.eu/maes ) implementation in ORs and carry out and manage one call for proposals in 2017 for swift small grants in the 3 Regions where the French ORs are located (Amazonia – Caribbean – Indian Ocean) following the modalities of the BEST 2.0 Programme. A central co-ordination team will be reinforced by a decentralised structure able to reach the local level with BEST Regional officers (focal points) for promoting and implementing the open call for swift small grants in the French Outermost Regions.
The 4th edition of the European BEST Initiative newsletter is out - just in time for The BEST Future Conference on the 28th of November 2017. Bringing you the latest news, highlights and updates from the 7 EU Overseas regions, read about the challenges of defining marine key biodiversity areas (KBAs) and the extension of the TAAF Reserve to one of the largest marine protected areas. Browse In the spotlight to find out more about the ecosystem profiling in all the 7 EU Overseas regions, how EU Overseas are promoted as Mission Blue Hope Spots and a project previously funded by BEST being highlighted at an UN Conference. Meet the entire BEST secretariat as well as the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance and find out more about their current project on bats. Get inspired by updates and results from previous and existing BEST projects on the ground in the Falkland Islands, French Polynesia, St Helena, the Dutch Caribbean and the British Indian Ocean Territory, addressing priority issues from climate change impacts to species conservation and restoration of habitats and ecosystem services. Finally, get the latest news about the new BEST RUP project as well as the 45 projects selected for BEST 2.0 funding in 2016 and 2017.
Further to our safe the date message, please note during the island of opportunities week Aruba a workshop on the EU's BEST initiative with representatives of Overseas Countries and Territories and Outermost Regions will be held in Aruba on 20 February 2017 in the margin of the OCT-EU Forum to which the Outermost Regions President is also invited. The findings of the event will be brought to the OCTs Ministerial Conference on 23 February 2017. These events will showcase results of the BEST Preparatory Action and the BEST 2.0 Programme, inform about new developments and provide the opportunity to discuss on how to build a sustainable partnership dedicated to mobilising resourcesto protect the unique ecosystems and the services they provide in the EU Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories.
Hence there will be no conference on 8th March in Brussels.
The third newsletter of the European Union’s (EU) BEST Initiative arrived, packed with news and updates from the 7 EU Overseas regions! In this edition, find highlights from a penguin study in the Polar/Sub-polar region and ecosystem services in French Guyana. Browse In the spotlight to learn about the albatrosses of Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic and how the success of Marine Educative Areas in French Polynesia is setting a good example for other regions. Meet the BEST III Consortium teams from the Indian Ocean, Polar and Sub-polar hubs as well as the Nature Policy Coordinator for the Caribbean Netherlands and an important partner for conservation in New Caledonia. Read more updates about existing BEST projects on the ground in the Pacific addressing local involvement, bird species conservation and management of natural resources. And get the latest news about the BEST 2.0 programme and the 16 new projects selected for funding.
Today, the BEST (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in European Overseas Territories) 2.0 Programme has launched its second round for calls for proposals which includes its second Small grant call for proposals (< EUR 50,000 and < EUR 100,000) and its second Medium grant call for proposals (< EUR 100, 000 and < EUR 400, 000) to support projects that promote the conservation and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem services it supports, as a basis for sustainable development in EU OCTs. The second call for applications for small grants is open for the Caribbean and Pacific regions. The second call for applications for medium grants is open for Indian Ocean, South Atlantic, polar and subpolar regions.
In the frame of the BEST 2.0 Programme supported by the European Commission (DG DEVCO) through the EU Biodiversity for Life (B4Life) flagship initiative, 16 new BEST projects will be implemented. A total of 29 proposals were received following the first call for medium-grant proposals that focused on the Caribbean and Pacific regions. The first call for small-grant proposals focused on South Atlantic, Indian Ocean and Polar/Subpolar and received 20 proposals.
The second newsletter of the European Union’s (EU) BEST Initiative is now online! See highlights from the South Atlantic, Polar/Sub-polar and the Indian Ocean regions. This time in the spotlight discover the website portals of Macaronesia to manage its biodiversity and a tracking tool for whales in the Caribbean. Meet the BEST III Consortium teams from the Pacific, Caribbean and Amazonian hubs as well as the BEST III ecosystem profile expert. Learn more about the results of BEST projects on the ground concerning local involvement and loss of ecosystem services assessment. And get the latest news about the BEST 2.0 programme and the presentation of the first outcomes of the BEST regional Ecosystem Profiles to a wider public.
On 19 October 2015, the preliminary results of the BEST III regional ecosystem profiles were presented to the larger public during a full-day event hosted at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels. The representatives of the regional BEST knowledge hubs shared the outcomes of their participatory work developed in consultation with local stakeholders over the past year.
The profiling experts illustrated the biodiversity and ecosystem services as well as main threats specific to their region. These scientific data served as the base for the discussion at the local level to identify and prioritize Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), and guide future conservation activities. From these preliminary KBAs results and an analysis of current conservation activities and investments, each BEST regional knowledge hub concluded with tangible critical areas for actions and investment needs.
The first call for proposals under the BEST 2.0 Programme supported by the European Commission DG DEVCO has been launched on 14 September 2015. Proposals to fund projects that promote the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services it supports, as a basis for sustainable development, in EU Overseas Countries and Territories can now be submitted through the BEST 2.0 Programme portal.
Your first newsletter of the European Union’s (EU) BEST Initiative is available! Learn about the EU’s BEST initiative; read news from the Pacific, Macaronesia and Caribbean regions; discover more about species, ecosystems and biodiversity strategy you might not know; meet BEST III teams and partners in the South and North Atlantic; and catch up on some of the BEST projects related to marine species conservation, coastal ecosystem preservation, invasive alien species control and climate change risks assessment.
and discover some of Europe’s most valuable nature overseas!
19 Oct. 2015. Committee of the Regions, Brussels.
Green Week 2015 Nature – our health, our wealth
3 - 5 June 2015, Brussels
Workshop: Biodiversity in Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries & Territories
5 June 2015 - 13:15-14:15
17-21 November. Nouméa, New Caledonia. Nouvata Park
22-25 October 2014 Guadeloupe
Apia, Samoa, 1-4 September 2014