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FP7

NETBIOME-CSA Report Summary

Project ID: 603710
Funded under: FP7-ENVIRONMENT
Country: Portugal

Final Report Summary - NETBIOME-CSA (Strengthening European research cooperation for smart and sustainable management of tropical and subtropical biodiversity in outermost regions and overseas countries and territories)

Executive Summary:
The 34 European Overseas entities, including nine Outermost Regions (ORs) and 25 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs), are among the most important zones in the world for biodiversity conservation. The rich biodiversity of the European Overseas has nurtured generations of local populations and communities, and is a pillar for their future economic development and crucial for their long term prosperity and sustainability. However, this exceptional biodiversity is faced with severe threats resulting from various direct human activities, invasive alien species, natural hazards and/or climate change. Scientific knowledge is an important element in addressing these threats, bringing them to the attention of the global community but also advancing the local application of technically solid management actions. However, the isolation of many ORs and OCTs limits their individual human capabilities and their access to resources, such as facilities and information.
NetBiome started out in 2007 as an ERA-Net, aiming to initiate and stimulate cooperation and coordination of regional research programs for the sustainable and integrated management of tropical and subtropical biodiversity, and to do this in a way that would address the needs of sustainable development in the ORs and OCTs. Its main achievement was the setting up of common research priorities and the launch, in 2010, of a Joint Call which funded 7 projects with a total of approximately 3.1M€.
The EU FP7 NetBiome-CSA project aimed to increase and strengthen this effort, giving it tools for sustainability. It started with the mobilization of nearly two hundred key stakeholders from all European biogeographic regions and across all levels of the quadruple helix (knowledge institutions, enterprises, government and civil society). A multi- stakeholder and inter-regional participative approach, including physical meetings at international conferences and electronic tools, was used to identify the main challenges to the sustainable management of biodiversity in ORs and OCTs, namely:
- Integrated biodiversity conservation through spatial planning, developing the tools that could ease the collective definition of spatial plans, including maps of ecosystems and their services.
- Sustainable agriculture and forestry practices, attempting to determine the balance between yield maximization and biodiversity conservation.
- Sustainable management and effective conservation of biodiversity, dealing with governance issues including the definition of workable indicators.
- Knowledge based decision making in marine and coastal issues, recognizing the importance of mobilizing knowledge to enable the identification of ecological processes and the capacity for management.
The same active and collaborative approach was subsequently used to address these challenges, resulting in a strategic document that is being widely promoted and used for subsequent activities, contributing to the sustainability of the network.
The following five policy recommendations were produced:
- Adopt a more coherent approach to spatial planning, accounting for ecological and societal considerations;
- Adapt international legislation to national/regional context;
- Promote more efficient and sustainable usage of natural resources;
- Put ecosystem-based management principles into practice;
- Establish Biodiversity Indicators specific for European overseas entities.
From them, the following four research priorities were outlined:
- Improve tools for effective participation in biodiversity management;
- Predict effects of climate change on natural resource uses;
- Increase the consideration of biodiversity and ecosystem services in environmental assessment and valuation methods;
- Map ecological limits to extractive activities.
In parallel, stakeholders were involved in proposing, selecting, and analyzing case studies of ecosystem valuation and of good practices in biodiversity management, from which several reports have been produced. Taken together, the deliverables of NetBiome-CSA constitute an unprecedented demonstration of the capacities of a network of agents in ORs and OCTs. They also confer important support for multiple relevant ongoing and future network activities.

Project Context and Objectives:
NetBiome-CSA built from an existing biodiversity research partnership (the Net-Biome ERA-Net), which had focused on financing high quality research, and, among other achievements, defined common research and development priorities and identified synergies and complementarities in the field of biodiversity research in support of sustainable development in ORs and OCTs. Based on this work, a joint call for projects, “Towards Biodiversity Management in support of Sustainable Development in Tropical and Subtropical EU”, was launched in 2010. Tailored specifically to address the needs and priorities identified by the overseas regions and territories, the funded projects filled a gap in terms of knowledge building towards sustainable development and capacity building from within the regions and territories. This contribution was recognized, for instance, in COM (2007) 507, “Strategy for the Outermost Regions: Achievements and Future Prospects”.
The NetBiome-CSA project took on the challenge of extending and strengthening the research partnerships and the cooperation for smart and sustainable management of tropical and subtropical biodiversity. Its consortium included 13 partners bringing together a unique combination of geographical representativeness and institutional diversity and expertise. Led by FRCT- Fundo Regional para a Ciência e Tecnologia (Azores, Portugal), the consortium included ADECAL- Agence de Development Economique de la Nouvelle-Caledonie (New Caledonia, France), RG- Région Guadeloupe (Guadeloupe, France), RR- Région Réunion (La Réunion, France), PLOCAN-Plataforma Oceánica de Canarias (Canary Islands, Spain), MinEz- Ministerie van Economische Zaken (The Netherlands), ANR- Agence Nationale de la Recherche (France), ECOLOGIC- Ecologic Institute gemeinnützige GmbH (Germany), EUROCEAN- European Centre for Information on Marine Science and Technology (Portugal), NATURALIS- Naturalis Biodiversity Center (The Netherlands), SPI- Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovação (Portugal), INDP- Instituto Nacional para o Desenvolvimento das Pescas (Cape Verde) and PNRM- Parc Naturel Régional de la Martinique (Martinique, France). Thus, seven partners from tropical and subtropical areas (spread across the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans and including an insular third country) were involved through regional governments, public institutes and a regional development agency. These were complemented by the following continental entities: a biodiversity research institution, one funding agency, an environmental think-tank, a knowledge brokering institution and a SME.
The project activities, tailored to specifically address tropical and subtropical biodiversity management issues and the needs and priorities identified by the ORs and OCTs, had several general objectives:
• promote proper research and innovation governance;
• provide the basis for increased research efforts and excellence;
• strengthen links between science, policy and business;
• foster evidence-based policy and improving knowledge, good practice and technology transfer and the uptake of research results by biodiversity actors and stakeholders;
• improve the uptake by research of biodiversity actor's and stakeholder's knowledge, including traditional knowledge;
• develop innovative biodiversity management tools;
• improve visibility of ORs and OCTs, their specificities, their originality, and the uptake of their good practices and expertise;
• develop international cooperation and exporting EU expertise to third countries from ORs and OCTs acting as EU active frontiers;
• give a tropical dimension to Europe and conferring upon Europe a particular responsibility;
• establish a sustainable platform acting as an European focal point for tropical and subtropical biodiversity.
The project objectives were to be achieved through a participative process mobilizing stakeholders, their knowledge and resources for initiatives such as policy and priority analysis, multi-stakeholder dialogues, exchange of good practices and issuing of recommendations. The project activities could therefore be grouped in two main areas:
- Mobilizing knowledge and expanding the network, as a way to contribute and facilitate the proper consideration and uptake of key scientific knowledge in policy making;
- Defining and addressing common biodiversity challenges, producing documents and electronic tools to work as proof of concept but mainly to support the future network activities.

Project Results:
The main goal of the NetBiome network is to reinforce cooperation and capacity building in biodiversity knowledge and management in ORs and OCTs, in order to contribute to the sustainable development of these European overseas entities. Within this general framework, the main purposes of NetBiome-CSA were to:
- enlarge and consolidate the network, creating mechanisms that promote its sustainability, and
- define priorities and guidelines for future activities.
This section of the report is divided in two parts, dedicated to outline how the project activities contributed to each these two goals.

Mobilizing knowledge and expanding the network
- Building the consortium
The setting up of the NetBiome-CSA consortium was in itself the first step towards enlarging the network. From the institutional links forged in the Net-Biome ERA-Net between research-funding entities (either regional governments or regional development agencies), the partnership grew in scope, encompassing knowledge institutions and SMEs, but grew also in geographic coverage to include an insular third country. Unfortunately, and despite the efforts done in that sense, it was not possible to include entities representative of the UK OCTs.

- Identifying and mobilizing the stakeholders
Work packages 2, 3 and 4 were designed to identify and to mobilize stakeholders, while work packages 5 and 6 included activities aimed at supporting the future sustainability of the network.
NetBiome-CSA addressed fully its call request for “Mobilising environmental knowledge for policy, industry and society” and included activities aiming to stimulate innovative approaches and tools to facilitate knowledge transfer, and uptake and exploitation of research data and results by policy makers, enterprises and society at large. Stakeholders from research, government, business and civil society were involved in defining and addressing biodiversity management challenges, responding directly to the demand for innovative approaches and tools to facilitate knowledge transfer.
An extensive list of stakeholders was first drawn up, specifically targeting agents somehow linked with biodiversity in each of the four strands of the quadruple helix (research, government, enterprises and civil society). This resulted in a list of persons or entities, characterized in deliverable D2.1 (State of art of the various stakeholders identified and their actions, http://www.netbiomecsa.netbiome.eu/np4/21/). These stakeholders were then contacted about their willingness to contribute to the project. The first step of this contribution took the form of a questionnaire where, in addition to personal and professional information, the stakeholders were already asked to provide information to feed some of the tasks. They were in particular asked to share good practices and policies on tropical and subtropical sustainable biodiversity management and to submit information on projects dealing with socio-economic valuation of biodiversity they had been involved in or were aware of. This information was then taken up by the partners coordinating tasks 3.2 (Case studies on the socio-economic valuation of biodiversity) and 4.3 (Identifying and disseminating good practices for tropical and subtropical sustainable biodiversity preservation) leading to the production of a report on each topic (see below).
In order to disseminate this knowledge as widely as possible and stimulate further contributions, the collected information was made available on a searchable database on the Biodiversity Management Toolbox (more on this below).

- Structuring the stakeholders base
A representative subsection of the identified stakeholders (considering geography, branch of the quadruple helix and gender) was contacted to constitute the Stakeholders Panel, thereby bringing together 59 people. The Stakeholders Panel was instrumental at various stages of the project, namely the definition of the main biodiversity-related challenges facing (sub)tropical ORs and OCTs. For this, the strategic frameworks related to biodiversity were collected at various scales and geographic areas. They were analyzed for a preliminary mapping and match-making between common biodiversity management issues and the type of actions recommended to address them. This preliminary level of analysis was consolidated and refined through a stakeholder-driven approach, based on a large consultation of stakeholders; there was contribution from all oceans and from the various branches of the helix, amounting to over 100 stakeholders consulted through a network questionnaire and nearly 30 members of the Stakeholders Panel consulted through several rounds of more focused interactions. This effort, consolidated in NetBiome-CSA’s 1st International Conference, in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, resulted in the identification of four challenges in areas where biodiversity conservation and development can be mutually reinforced.

- Lowering barriers
A third stage of stakeholder integration took the form of multistakeholder and transregional dialogues tailored to address those challenges by mobilizing environmental knowledge from researchers, policy makers, enterprises and civil society. Four “challenge specific” workgroups were formed to aggregate stakeholders according to their knowledge and interest. These workgroups were focused on the production of policy recommendations and the definition of research priorities which would address the identified challenges from a bottom up perspective. Outside specialists were also involved in the process. Physical meetings took place on two occasions, in connection with relevant events: the 1st NetBiome-CSA international conference in the Canary Islands in May 2014 and the Guadeloupe EU-IUCN Conference on Biodiversity and Climate Change, in October of that same year. Work was mainly conducted using various electronic forms of communication, building capacity and pooling resources and knowledge. Members of the Advisory Board participated in selected activities of the workgroups and provided recommendations for the progress of their work. The documents produced were circulated to the Stakeholders Panel members for final comments and additions.

- Preparing the future
The intangible benefits arising from the intense networking that was developed by the project cannot be overstated. Bringing together stakeholders from across the spectrum of ORs and OCTs (including insular third countries), with different backgrounds and responsibilities, to define shared challenges and discuss the ways to address them, was a way to contribute and facilitate the proper consideration and uptake of available scientific knowledge in key areas in policy making. The momentum created by all these activities had to be maintained, and NetBiome-CSA provided ways to achieve this. The Biodiversity Management Toolbox, besides its role as a repository of information on important fields, is above all an instrument for keeping the communication channels open between all NetBiome stakeholders. NetBiome-CSA partners are committed to maintain and develop this Toolbox, which will be the focus point for periodic communication and all future collaboration initiatives and projects.

Defining and addressing common biodiversity challenges
The EU Biodiversity Strategy (EBS ) was the central document around which the effort of identifying priority challenges was structured. The fact that it covers such a wide range of themes and is so explicit in its targets and the actions to be taken resulted in it being a good tool to motivate stakeholders to participate. Further, analyzing and discussing the EBS in this context contributed to its dissemination and detailed knowledge by a broad group of stakeholders.
NetBiome-CSA produced a number of important contributions to biodiversity conservation and management in ORs and OCTs by following three interlinked lines of work:
- Participatory definition of challenges to reconciling biodiversity with development, followed by the production of policy recommendations and the selection of research priorities to address those challenges;
- Inventory of examples about good practices in biodiversity management and production of a selection from which guidelines could be adopted for concrete cases;
- Compilation of valuation studies of ecosystem services, and stakeholder enquiries of their usefulness in biodiversity conservation, as well as identification of the gaps and needs for the uptake of these kinds of studies at the policy level.

- Challenges to biodiversity management
From a wide consultation crossed with reference to strategic documents, the project identified four major challenges to biodiversity conservation in support of sustainable development (detailed in D4.1 Challenge outlines, http://www.netbiomecsa.netbiome.eu/np4/47/):
- Integrated biodiversity conservation through spatial planning, concerned with the technical, democratic and financial tools that could ease the collective definition of spatial plans, including mapping of ecosystems and their services.
- Sustainable agriculture and forestry practices, characterized by the search of equilibrium between yield maximization and biodiversity conservation.
- Sustainable management and effective conservation of biodiversity, dealing with governance issues including the definition of workable indicators.
- Knowledge base decision making in marine and coastal issues, recognizing the importance of the ocean for the overseas entities but also the obstacles to mobilize a knowledge base wide enough to enable the identification of ecological processes and to use this knowledge to build the capacity to manage and conserve biodiversity.
Multi-stakeholder and inter-regional workgroups worked on each of the challenges, looking at the research needed to address them and the policy actions that could follow from it.

- Policy recommendations
The following policy recommendations were produced:
- Adopt a more coherent approach to spatial planning, accounting for ecological and societal considerations , incorporating cross-sectorial and interdisciplinary cooperation to balance long-term biodiversity related issues and short-term social and economic dynamics and make decisions in a context of uncertainty;
- Adapt international legislation to national/regional context , to better address the challenges faced by European Overseas regions and territories with regard to biodiversity conservation and adaptation to climate change;
- Promote more efficient and sustainable usage of natural resources , enhancing local genetic diversity while meeting society’s needs and demands and facilitating a circular economy approach;
- Put ecosystem-based management principles into practice, adopting management approaches that take into consideration the full array of interactions within an ecosystem, including human activities
- Establish Biodiversity Indicators specific for European Overseas Regions and Territories , since existing biodiversity indicators based on European policy models and funding strategies designed for continental contexts and needs, are very often inadequate, insufficient or too general.

- Research priorities
The same exercise lead to outlining the following research priorities:
- Improve tools for effective participation in biodiversity management, aiming to facilitate the co-design of management and the development of scenarios and solutions using the best available scientific and local knowledge whilst managing various uncertainty factors;
- Predict effects of climate change on natural resource uses , carrying out broad- scale investigations that go beyond studies directed at specific regions or specific natural resources. Regional strategies are required for climate research and optimisation of natural resource use to reflect the specificities of ORs and OCTs;
- Increase the consideration of biodiversity and ecosystem services in environmental assessment and valuation methods, taking them into account when designing legislation and undertaking infrastructure design and spatial planning processes;
- Map ecological limits to extractive activities, examining linkages across habitats and species to guide decisions on limits to activities

- Policy brief
A strategic document was produced (http://www.netbiomecsa.netbiome.eu/np4/46/), developing these ideas and relating them to the four challenges. The presentation of this document was one of the highlights of the International Conference “Boosting Biodiversity Research Cooperation - A NetBiome Roadmap for European (sub)Tropical Overseas”, which took place on the European Parliament in Brussels, on April 6th, 2016, convened by MEPs Ricardo Santos and Maurice Ponga. The document has been widely circulated to actors in the biodiversity governance arena.

- Showcasing good practices in biodiversity conservation
Highlighting and sharing good practices in biodiversity conservation was considered important to reinforce the effectiveness of local interventions, saving time and resources. A searchable compilation of 62 case studies has therefore been produced and hosted on the Biodiversity Management Toolbox. A summary report was also issued (http://www.netbiomecsa.netbiome.eu/np4/26/). Users of the Toolbox will be able to search, curate, and update the information by adding new good practices when found appropriate.

- Reinforcing biodiversity valuation studies
A third line of action was dedicated to gather and review the literature on the socio-economic benefits of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU overseas entities. The studies collected have been deposited in a dedicated area of the Toolbox, where further studies can be added by the stakeholders at any time. The Toolbox also contains a growing list of training and communication materials on this topic.
A number of good-practice case studies were identified to illustrate the socio-economic benefits of (sub)tropical biodiversity and ecosystem services. These have been compiled and analyzed in two special reports and a research brief, available athttp://www.netbiomecsa.netbiome.eu/np4/22/. The reports show that, in order to be perceived as relevant and useful by policy makers, valuation studies should be designed and implemented in a participatory manner. Taking into account the stakeholders’ perceptions turns out to be essential, even more if the objective is to design or adapt policy instruments based on the results of the valuation study. The reports conclude that, while more effective protection of biodiversity in ORs and OCTs will depend on a range of factors, the economic valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services can provide arguments for the integration of biodiversity aspects into other policy domains, such as agriculture and tourism, informing public debates and local and regional policy making.

Potential Impact:
The activities carried out during the present project demonstrated NetBiome’s capacity to mobilize biodiversity-relevant knowledge from across geographical, political and interest-group barriers and contributed strongly to enlarge the network’s visibility both locally and at the national and European levels. Most of all, they contributed to reinforce cooperation and capacity building in biodiversity knowledge and management in ORs and OCTs. As an example, NetBiome partners were involved in leading one of the roundtables of the International Conference on Biodiversity and Climate Change (in Guadeloupe). The network’s role as an actor in OR and OCT interregional research coordination was subsequently recognized in the Message from Guadeloupe, with its call to “Capitalise on the NETBIOME experience for creating a dedicated platform to connect local decision-makers to produce and share knowledge available for action.” Actions taken to implement the recommendations of the Message from Guadeloupe in this field have, as a consequence of NetBiome-CSA, both a body of knowledge to draw upon and a set of motivated and connected stakeholders to carry them out.
The strategic document with policy recommendations and research priorities has been and will continue to be promoted. It will, in particular, be the key instrument supporting the planned second NetBiome call for projects, to be launched in the context and with the support of BiodivERsA3. It has also been used as the basis for the proposal by the European Parliament of two pilot projects, one on “Mapping and assessing the state of ecosystems and their services in ORs and OCTs: establishing links and pooling resources” and the other on “Improving participatory tools for effective biodiversity management and sustainable development of the European ORs and OCTs”
The Biodiversity Management Toolbox is an innovative source of information and services to strengthen the partnership but also to extend the project impacts to regions and stakeholders besides those directly involved with the project. The Toolbox will be the focal point of the network’s activities in the future.
On one hand, it constitutes an important information resource. The case studies on ecosystem valuation, together with the training materials and the two reports produced on the subject illustrate the benefits, both economic and social, of improving investments in ecosystem and biodiversity conservation. Results also illustrate the economic risks and opportunities of undertaking productive activities that negatively impact biodiversity and ecosystem services. Coupled with the examples and guidelines of good practices in biodiversity management and conservation, this information is expected to assist government officials and stakeholders, at different levels, in analyzing the role of ecosystem services and incorporate them into economic planning, policy, and investment at the sectorial level.
On the other hand, the Toolbox’s Forum is a privileged space for communication between stakeholders. Using the stakeholder database provided in the toolbox, potential partners or relevant experts can be identified to approach for cooperation or advice. Initiatives already underway include a comparative assessment of species diversity between European mainland and its overseas entities, and an effort to compile information on the status of the mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services. Links are also being developed between the Toolbox and Oppla, a hub of knowledge about nature-based solutions supported by the European Commission . Integration in OPPLA will help disseminate the Netbiome toolbox, as well as help raise the profile of the relatively isolated OCT/ORs. This will help to attract more stakeholders, strengthening the toolbox as a dedicated communication tool.
The toolbox will be maintained after the Netbiome-CSA project is finished, providing a tool to continue the partnership.

List of Websites:
Project website: http://www.netbiomecsa.netbiome.eu/np4/home.html

Coordination: Fundo Regional para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Governo Regional dos Açores (frct@azores.gov.pt, + 351 296 308 948)

Scientific representative: José Manuel N. Azevedo (jose.mn.azevedo@azores.gov.pt)

Contact

José Azevedo, (Acting President)
Tel.: +351 296206509
E-mail
Record Number: 194492 / Last updated on: 2017-02-08
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