Shaping the future European biodiversity monitoring framework, Hybrid conference, November 8th, 2022
Summary, conclusions and next steps
On 8 November, 2022 EuropaBON held its second open stakeholder conference, this time in collaboration with Biodiversa+. The event took a hybrid format, taking place in Brussels, Belgium and online. Hosted in the remarkable Herman Teirlinck building in Brussels, the conference was a great opportunity for a range of participants from academia, policymaking, NGOs, government and the private sector to get updates, meet and exchange. The event drew wide interest from across Europe and beyond, spanning multiple stakeholder groups, with registered attendants greater than 300 (Fig. 1 & 2), many of whom attended either online or onsite, eager to share knowledge and ideas, and to contribute to the shaping of the future European biodiversity monitoring framework.
While EuropaBON places an extra focus on scientific and technological advances to design blueprints for Europe’s tailor-made biodiversity monitoring strategy, Biodiversa+ supports excellent research on biodiversity with an impact for society and policy. Against this backdrop, the joint conference and workshop was specifically tailored to serve the interest of all associated stakeholders. The event accommodated various invited talks in the morning by key players from the European Commission, NGOs, private sector organisations and academia (all presentations available on our conference website), as well as two parallel sessions in the afternoon, focusing on shaping the future European biodiversity monitoring centre, as well as forming the private sector’s perspectives on biodiversity data requirements.
Seven guest speakers introduced the participants to insightful aspects of biodiversity monitoring and the need for a harmonised framework. Various challenges were introduced from the academic perspective, along with potential solutions from the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme and examples of success stories for overcoming biodiversity monitoring knowledge gaps from the Finnish Ecosystem Observatory. We also heard from the WCMC on the use of monitoring data by the business community.
We heard from the European Commission on the strong support for the establishment of a Biodiversity Monitoring Coordination Centre (BMCC) in Europe and the recognition of the role that EuropaBON and Biodiversa+ are playing in this effort. The keynote presentations were followed by a panel discussion with representatives of the EEA, GBIF and the RSBP who reiterated the urgent need for the establishment of such a Centre and discussed with the audience on the various routes to achieve that.
During the afternoon break-out sessions, the participants had the chance to join the EuropaBON team in a variety of productive sessions both online and in-person, where prioritising the technical mandate and tasks for the future European biodiversity monitoring centre were discussed, along with an extensive exchange of ideas on the linkage between governance and biodiversity monitoring. All discussions were recorded both online via various software tools and in person using traditional hard-copy methods. These transcriptions have meanwhile been processed and converted into digital text files for further analysis. In total we collected some 50 pages of digital material to be used going forward with the BMCC.
In a parallel session, Biodiversa+ led a workshop on private sector perspectives on the use of biodiversity monitoring data. This invite-only meeting targeted key players in business and looked into various scenarios and topics of interest for the private sector, including potential plans for supporting nature-based solutions and the validation of biodiversity data in private sectors. As this sector is more challenging to reach, this effort represents a significant milestone in understanding the wider biodiversity data landscape. Feedback from the private sector during and after the meeting was very positive – indicating they benefited as well from exposure to the other sectors generating and working with biodiversity data and appreciated having their concerns and interests being considered as part of follow-up activities by Biodiversa+.
Overall, the event, although challenging to organise due to its hybrid format, was a great success based on the immediate and post-event feedback and judging by the enthusiastic participation across the various breakout groups, in particular based upon the quality and volume of the recorded materials. In particular, there was an outstanding exchange of information and the break-out sessions provided the opportunity for a lot of gaps to be identified, discussed and even addressed, which contributes to developing a blueprint for designing the future biodiversity monitoring framework.
This workshop comes on the heels of several workshops and side-events which have been addressing various aspects of the BMCC with different stakeholder groups over the last six months. These events were organized, i.a., by the Knowledge Centre on Biodiversity (KCBD), Biodiversa+, and the European Commission. They provided several opportunities for biodiversity stakeholders to contribute with their opinions and ideas for the formation of such a body. Our intention now is to consolidate, synthesize and analyze this growing body of material and produce from this a first working draft which can then be opened to the wider public for consultation by the midway point of 2023. Prior to that, various discussions will continue with key stakeholders as the draft document evolves. Follow-up interviews are planned in the coming weeks and months with individuals and organisations for further elaboration on points that have been raised to date via the various events. Regular feedback on the process will be provided to the EuropaBON membership and the wider public through our various dissemination channels.