Interregional exchange of experience in our PROGRESS project

The PROGRESS (PROmoting the Governance of Regional Ecosystem ServiceS) project (funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg Europe Programme) aims to initiate a change in regional and national policies dealing with environment, biodiversity and maintaining nature’s capacity to deliver the goods and services for our wellbeing. Exchange of experience is one of the main activities to help project partners and their stakeholders to gain fresh insights from experts in these fields. The second International Training Workshop of the project took place on the 11th January 2021 with the aim to support the horizontal integration of the ecosystem concerns into sectoral policies and decision making. This is a crucial part of the project and new perspectives, experiences in policy-making might help the partner regions to improve their respective policies.

Three topics have been discussed during this meeting – engaging stakeholders, informing decision-makers and lastly, acting on forest restoration -, building blocks of the process of making and implementing policies related to environment. First theme panel partners and participants have presented and discussed useful practices and initiatives for identifying and gathering stakeholder opinions and needs and how to engage them together with the citizens in sectoral policies. One important aspect is openness to all opinions, incorporating stakeholder viewpoints and acting on them after. Especially concerned individuals and civil groups are easy to alienate in absence of concrete results of their actions, therefore the decision-making process has to be transparent and well-prepared for integrating such suggestions.

The theme of the second panel was about informing decision makers in order to help them extract all the crucial information from rough data with the help of geographical information systems, standards and indicators. Actionable and easy-to-understand information is key to help decision-makers make right choice as demonstrated in our first video about SITXELL: 

 

Finally through Good Practices, technologies and methods were demonstrated on how to conserve and restore our forests as an asset. After hearing the voice of stakeholders, informing decision-makers about ecosystem services, environmental policies should be applied in real-life. Three practical examples were showcased: two from Hungary and one from Romania. Preserving and/or restoring forests and degraded habitats, using remote sensing data, or fighting invasive species were presented in detail. Different challenges require different methods and interregional exchange can help learning about new means of protection ecosystem services so they can improve our well-being.

The goal of the conference was to disseminate the experience of our stakeholders and to allow them to deepen their knowledge in their respective fields. This is our second topic after “Measurement of the costs and benefits of ecosystem services derived from land use”, and we will continue our work to exchange experience for the betterment of policies related to ecosystem services.