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21-23 MARCH 2017

Final OpenNESS Annual Meeting in Smolenice, Slovakia

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

Helping nature to help us: that is the main idea behind the first European conference on ecosystem services. Between 19 and 23 September, more than 600 participants from all over the world will make their way to the University of Antwerp to debate and learn more about how nature contributes to human well-being and vice versa.

This 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.

Some of the highlights:

  • On Monday 19 September the participants will hear from Antwerp provincial governor Cathy Berx and MEP Bas Eickhout. The panel will be led by Belgian television personality and film director Nic Balthazar.
  • On Tuesday 20 September, there will be an ecosystem services market with 40 stands related to the practice of ecosystem services (projects, initiatives, companies).
  • On Friday 23 September, the Antwerp declaration will be signed and we will hear speeches from European Commission directors Humberto Delgado Rosa (EC-DG Environment) and Birgit de Boissezon (EC-DG Research & Innovation), as well as Hans Bruyninckx, director of the European Environment Agency. The closing speech will be given by Kai Chan of the University of British Columbia, a leading figure in the world of ecosystem services and a gifted speaker.
  • Launch of Oppla (, a new platform and community for helping put ecosystem services into practice and supporting nature-based solutions.

For more information, visit the conference website:

Photo: Uitkerkse Polders, Belgium © Yves Adams