European Week of Regions and Cities
7-10 OCTOBER 2019 Brussels

EU level Green Infrastructure and Ecosystem Services in the decision-making process

October 10, 2018 from 14:30 to 16:00
This session will put in the spotlight two upcoming Commission guidance documents on: - Strategic EU level green and blue infrastructure, and - Integrating ecosystems and their services into decision-making. It will also showcase examples of EU level green infrastructure and a flexible tool to assist decision-makers from policy, business and society in the mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services. Participants will discuss in small groups and provide feedback on key aspects of the new EU guidances, tools and follow-up needs. This event is organised in the framework of the 13th meeting of the Technical Platform for Cooperation on the Environment.
Participatory sessions
Humberto Delgado Rosa, Rayka Hauser, Julie Raynal
Energy, climate, environment
European Commission - DG ENV
english (en)
Building SQUARE - Brussels Convention Centre, Room Hall 400

Session summary

Stefan Leiner, Head of Biodiversity Unit, DG ENV, spoke about the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services for human wellbeing and development. Cor Lamers, Chair of the COR ENVE Commission, highlighted the central role of local and regional governments in driving sustainable development with nature’s benefits at the core. The session aimed to present two upcoming EU guidance documents under development in the framework of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 and the Action plan for nature, people and the economy, and to gather suggestions on the next steps:

-          EU guidance on supporting strategic EU level green and blue infrastructure projects

-          EU guidance on integrating ecosystems and their services into decision-making.

Julie Raynal and Rayka Hauser (DG ENV Biodiversity Unit) presented the aims, structure and scope of the documents.

The breakout discussions produced the following messages:

Discussion group 1: The role of regions in the deployment of green and blue infrastructures

(Moderator: Lisa Eichler, Trinomics)

EU Regions can contribute to deploying EU-level green and blue infrastructure, since their scale of intervention enables them to transcend traditional administrative boundaries and scale-up cooperation, including between regions, better coordinate efforts and access funding possibilities. EU Macro-Regional Strategies are a useful tool in this regard.

The forthcoming guidance can help Managing authorities in assessing and supporting relevant projects to deliver on G&B infrastructure objectives. It will also raise awareness on the high cost/benefit ratio of G&B infrastructure projects.

Cities have a role to play in such deployment, provided urban G&B infrastructure is part of a broader strategic G&B infrastructure network connecting urban, peri-urban and rural ecosystems.

 Group 2: Capacity needs and measures to enable the integration of ecosystem services into local and regional planning decisions (Moderated by Marianne Kettunen, IEEP)

Preconditions for effective integration include:

-       Awareness of policy makers, planners, business and society of the contribution of ecosystems to socio-economic objectives

-       Representation of environment experts in decision-making bodies

-       Genuine stakeholder engagement from the earliest planning stages

-       Integration tasks and allocated resources in regional planning frameworks

-       Training and capacity building for practitioners and expert networks

-       Practical EU support translating the ecosystem services concept for practitioners: examples of solutions, materials, methodological advice, data and guidance on accessing finance.

Group 3: How to develop political will to integrate ecosystem services in decision-making at local level

(Moderated by Roby Biwer, Vice-Chair Commission ENVE, CoR)

Scientific knowledge needs translating into forms accessible to politicians and wider audiences. Platform discussions are one possible tool.

Communication and awareness raising should promote and prioritise green infrastructure and biodiversity protection.

The role of local and regional authorities in providing the right messages and incentives was also highlighted. They are key actors in developing incentives, awareness, and translating knowledge into political language.

Take away message

Climate and environmental degradation are global challenges with a very local dimension. Local and regional authorities have a key role in addressing them, including through the strategic deployment of green and blue infrastructure, and the integration of ecosystems and their services into decisions. Enabling factors include political will, stakeholder engagement and support, knowledge generation and use, practical tools for planners and practitioners as well as adequate resources. The upcoming EU guidance documents can provide useful support in this regard.

Mr Cor Lamers: “Climate and environmental degradation are two of the main global challenges that we are all facing. These global challenges have, however, a local dimension."


Mr.Cor Lamers: "Through their spatial and urban planning, cities and regions should develop green infrastructure to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services."

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