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Consolidating the European Research Area on biodiversity and ecosystem services

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Pushing the boundaries of transnational biodiversity research

Biodiversity – the variability of life on Earth – is of paramount importance for ecosystems and human well-being. Biodiversity loss and change thus pose major scientific and societal challenges.

Climate Change and Environment

Addressing biodiversity challenges and providing scientific support requires coordinated interdisciplinary research at national, regional and international levels. BiodivERsA, an EU network of national and local ministries and agencies, supports this effort via programming and funding research on biodiversity and nature-based solutions. Building on the previous experiences of BiodivERsA1 and 2 and NetBiome, the BiodivERsA3 project is an ERA-NET co-funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme, bringing together 36 organisations from 23 European countries. As project coordinator, Dr Xavier Le Roux explains, “the scope of this network is to strengthen the cooperation between programmers and funders of biodiversity research to achieve synergy and resource efficiency, with a strong integration at the local, national and transnational levels.″ From mapping of biodiversity research to strategic programming BiodivERsA has identified existing biodiversity research projects and funding across Europe by compiling and analysing the information in a public database, referencing over 11 500 projects. Partners then developed a strategic research agenda, presenting the network’s shared vision on biodiversity research needs and priority actions across European countries. BiodivERsA partners from overseas regions and outermost countries and territories have also made sure that this agenda fulfils their research needs. To accommodate the enlargement of the network and diversification of its activities, BiodivERsA has upgraded its governance with two Vice Chairs and an advisory board including top scientists and diverse stakeholders. BiodivERsA3 benefits from a successful collaboration history among countries in the European Research Area (ERA) since 2005, established and consolidated by the first two editions of the network. This ERA-NET has served as the foundation for ambitious funding calls on biodiversity, ecosystem services and nature-based solutions, in particular the 2015 call on ‘Blue and Green Infrastructures’ and 2018 call on ‘Biodiversity and Health’. Among its major achievements is the efficient mobilisation of local, national and EU resources for implementing these calls for EUR 44 million in cash. Additional EUR 28 million funding has emerged through the COFUND initiative BiodivScen between BiodivERsA and the Belmont Forum. Central to the success of BiodivERsA3 is the participation of stakeholders. Through various science-society, science-business and science-policy interfacing activities, the network promotes the engagement of public and private stakeholders, ensuring that the newly generated knowledge becomes quickly available and useful for the formulation of policy recommendations and actions. The future of the BiodivERsA network BiodivERsA promotes ERA in the field of biodiversity, ecosystem services and nature-based solutions through the continuous alignment of research programmes at the national and European levels. The goal is a common and forward-looking vision to overcome research fragmentation within this field. “BiodivERsA3 strongly contributed to re-shape the way biodiversity research is envisaged and supported, by addressing the need to explore and support new solutions and opportunities for biodiversity and the humans who are part of it,″ states Dr Le Roux. Undoubtedly, the growing anthropogenic pressures and the emerging global challenges such as climate change pose significant challenges to biodiversity and directly affect human societies. To address the emerging challenges, BiodivERsA partners strongly believe that biodiversity research should take a prominent place in Horizon Europe, with a reinforced link between the national and European levels. BiodivERsA aims to address this by funding excellent trans-national, multidisciplinary and inter-disciplinary research on biodiversity-related topics. The unprecedented knowledge and novel nature-based solutions generated during these projects will help sustain biodiversity, ecosystem services and human activities.

Keywords

BiodivERsA3, biodiversity, research, network, European Research Area (ERA), funding, ecosystem services, nature-based solutions

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