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We must now deliver societal impact

Helping nature to help us: that was the main idea behind the joint OpenNESS, OPERAs, ECOPLAN and ESP conference on ecosystem services. Between 19 and 23 September, more than 600 participants from all over the world made their way to the University of Antwerp to debate and learn more about how nature contributes to human well-being and vice versa. The conference resulted in the Antwerp Declaration, a call to integrate ecosystem services into policy and business operation. Read more »

Photo: © Marleen Peeters

First European conference on ecosystem services: Helping nature to help us

The final OpenNESS conference will be a combined Ecosystem Services Conference, organised by the research projects OPERAs, OpenNESS, and ECOPLAN and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) from 19-23 September 2016. It is hosted by the University of Antwerp in Belgium and will be the biggest European event in 2016 that links science, policy and practice on ecosystem services and natural capital.
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Photo: Uitkerkse Polders, Belgium © Yves Adams

Nature supports Europe’s sustainable cities

Nature offers many benefits to support Europe’s urban agenda and supports the move of many cities to become more sustainable and innovative. Evidence of such ‘nature-based solutions’ was presented at an EU conference. The conference, as part of the Dutch EU Presidency, focused on how evidence supports policy for sustainable cities and what tools are available to help cities in this process. In many presentations as well as in the day’s conclusions Oppla was referred to as a key platform to share the many experiences that were presented, as well as the tools that are available to support cities in their efforts to use nature-based solutions instead of technical ones. Read more »

OpenNESS Annual Meeting: four years of work comes to an end...

Will the OpenNESS project achieve its main aim, to help operationalise ecosystem services and natural capital, to turn the concepts into real-world applications? This was the underlying thinking behind this year’s annual project meeting, which focused on synthesizing the results of almost four years of work. The OpenNESS project has entered its last year of operations and therefore this meeting brought together the results of its work on concepts and theories, policies and regulations, models and methods, and valuation of ecosystem services and natural capital. Read more »

Photo: Allan Watt

OpennESS and OPERAs share the stage to promote IBPES

The Ecosystem Service Community of Scotland hosted a discussion panel focused on the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Three IPBES contributing scientists were joined by Sally Thomas, Head of Land Use and Biodiversity policy team, Scottish Government and Dr Diana Mortimer the co-ordinator of the UK IPBES Stakeholder Hub. The most frequently raised issues included 1. the importance of local knowledge and communication of IPBES results to policy makers and the general public, and 2. funding of the assessments and the secretariat and lessons learnt from the IPCC process. Read more »

Image: A word cloud of the questions registered at the ESCOM IPBES event 9 March 2016

Policy brief on EU bioenergy policies published

The rationale of bioenergy production is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy. However, bioenergy production can have negative consequences on the capacity of ecosystems to provide other services such as climate regulation, nutrient buffering, recreation and soil quality. The new OpenNESS policy brief 'EU bioenergy policies at the crossroad' defends the argument that policies advancing bioenergy use should be developed based on an understanding of the potential trade-offs between ecosystem services. Read more »

Photo: Typical rill erosion observed on a sloping maize field in Central Germany. © Daniel Wurbs, geoflux GbR Germany

Ecosystem services: never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis

OpenNESS coordinator Eeva Furman of the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) reviewed the recently published Routledge Handbook on Ecosystem Services, written by the world's leading authorities in the field of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Researchers from OpenNESS are well represented among the contributors of the handbook, which provides a comprehensive reference text on ecosystem services, integrating natural and social science (including economics). Collectively the chapters demonstrate the importance of biodiversity for people, policy and practice. Furman: "By having a chance to peek into the book, in my ratings, it will make an important contribution to the societal and academic debates on ecosystem services." Read the full review »

Integrating nature into circular economy

Natural capital should form an important and integral part of the discussion around implementing the recent EU Circular Economy Package. The Package’s implementation must be done in an integrated way by looking across sectors. These are two of the many take-home messages coming out of the stakeholder event ‘Unwrapping the Circular Economy Package’ that was held in the framework of the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the EU. OpenNESS participated in a breakout group on nature-based solutions and how these relate to circular economy. Read more »

Promoting Oppla at the Belgian Ecosystem Services Community Christmas Market

Networking, learning and enjoying were the keywords of the Belgian Ecosystem Services Community (BEES) Christmas Market. The second edition of this event (organised jointly with the MAES process) brought together over 200 people and took place on Tuesday, 15 December 2015, at the Royal Flemish Academy of Sciences and Arts in Brussels. OpenNESS contributed to the event with a stand focussing on the new web portal Oppla. Read more »

Photo: The Oppla stand

Practitioners ask: ‘how can the ecosystem services concept help our business?'

Last December two members of the OpenNESS team at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology were invited to speak to UK businesses (i) an environmental consultancy company - EnviroCentre Ltd. and (ii) a farmer’s group - Dartmoor Hill Discussion Society. Both groups are keenly aware of the political push both locally and internationally to take a holistic view in decision making related to the direct and indirect contributions of ecosystems to human well-being. Read more »

Photo: Dartmoor countryside by Jan Dick ©