Yesterday, during lunch time at the World Conservation Congress, a small group discussed how IUCN Europe can play a stronger role in the governance of coastal and marine areas, building on its current work in Europe Overseas, and the experience and expertise of the Global Marine and Polar Programme. We were joined by IUCN Councillor for the Oceans, Christophe Lefèbvre.
Did you know that the 28 European Union Overseas Entities cover a land area of 4.4 million km2, equivalent in size to continental Europe, and a combined Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of over 15 million km2 – the largest EEZ globally?
IUCN is currently carrying out a facilitation project for the future of the BEST scheme of the European Commission (Voluntary scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories of the EU Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories) as one of the project grants awarded as part of the preparatory action for BEST. This project focuses on sustainable management of natural resources in overseas territories of the European Union. Many of these are small island states, and therefore most of our work has focused on coastal management issues.
We have recently joined a consortium lead by our Member Aquarium Nausicaa, to provide technical inputs into a project that aims to raise awareness about coastal and marine issues in mainland Europe. The IUCN National Committees in France and Spain are also engaged. This project – Sea for Society – has as one of its main objectives the launch of a Blue Society in Europe. Blue Society is a new ambitious vision of society in a spirit of sustainability, well being and equity. A new economic, social and technological approach based on the tremendous opportunities offered by the Ocean: new resources, innovative solutions and positive experiences. It was the topic of a knowledge café at the Congress on 8 September – #forum0733.
We used the lunch-time meeting yesterday to discuss details of IUCN’s role in the Sea for Society project, review the immediate tasks ahead and plan for the long-term future. The idea of a large, European, coastal programme is one of the priorities for the European Programme of IUCN.