At this meeting, twenty experts from seven European Union countries will assess the progress made in this project, which aims to involve policy-makers, researchers and civil society in the development of various methodologies aimed at mapping and assessing the state of ecosystems in the ORs and OCTs
The Faculty of Marine Sciences of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) in Canary Islands, Spain, is hosting today and tomorrow the second meeting of the members of MOVE, an international project that aims to involve policy-makers, researchers and civil society in the development of various methodologies aimed at mapping and assessing the state of ecosystems in the Outermost Regions (ORs) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).
This European Union (EU) project, which will run for 3 years and is coordinated by the Regional Fund for Science and Technology (FRCT) of the Regional Government of the Azores, involves the ULPGC through the Atlantic Biodiversity and Sustainability Association (ABAS) and the University Institute of Aquaculture and Sustainable Marine Ecosystems (IU-ECOAQUA).
The EU Biodiversity Strategy calls on Member States to map and assess the state of ecosystems and their services in their national territory, to support regional policies in overseas Europe by mobilising local actors and speeding up the pooling of resources.
At this MOVE meeting taking place in Gran Canaria, around twenty experts from seven European Union countries will assess the progress made by each of them in the project, which will run until 2021 and in which 14 organisations, most of them universities and research centres, are taking part.
The environmental values of Europe’s Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories often go unnoticed, both locally and at European level. The 9 ORs are territories located at a great distance from continental Europe, although they are a substantial part of the Member States, while the 25 OCTs are characterised by their specific links with the respective EU countries.
All these European territories are unique cases. Most of them are islands scattered around the globe and have a particularly unique flora and fauna, accounting for 70% of Europe’s biodiversity and 20% of the world’s coral reefs and coastal lagoons. They include very diverse ecosystems, usually on a very small scale, coral reefs and mangroves, tropical rainforests and mountain ecosystems, or polar and sub-polar seas. They all provide multiple ecosystem services, of great local and global relevance.
MOVE involves a wide range of organizations. Spain is integrated with 3 universities: the ULPGC, the University of La Laguna and the Autonomous University of Madrid. France participates with 4 collaborating institutions: Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Universite de La Réunion, Nova Blue Enviroment (NEB) and Centre de Coopération Internationale Recherche Agronomique pour le Developpement (CIRAD). Italy participates through the Universidad degli Studi di Trento, while the Netherlands participates with Wolfs Company and the Institute of Environmental Studies of the Faculty of Sciences of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In addition, Germany is integrated into the project through Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität Hannover (LUH) and the United Kingdom through the University of Porstmouth and the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI). Finally, the project coordinator is the Regional Fund for Science and Technology (FRCT) of the Regional Government of the Azores (Portugal).
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This line of work by MOVE, coordinated by L’Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) as requested by the direction of the project, set the goal of having a minimum of 30 surveys in each of the European Union’s outermost regions and overseas territories, to establish an initial diagnosis of the situation and the mapping of marine ecosystems
One of the initial objectives of the MOVE project was to carry out a survey among 1179 actors from those territories far from the European continent related with the maritime sector, in order to set, with the answers obtained, an initial diagnosis of the situation of their maritime environments and the mapping of their marine ecosystems. 996 of them confirmed the reception of the survey.
As is well known, the MOVE project brings together 14 partners representing three overseas territories and countries (New Caledonia, the Netherlands Antilles and the territories of the United Kingdom in the southwest Atlantic) and five outermost regions (Réunion, the Canary Islands, the Azores, Martinique, and French Guiana). Only three months after the dissemination of the surveys to the different members of MOVE, the goal of having a minimum of 30 questionnaires filled in per territory is close to be achieved. The data will provide critical information to compose a realistic state of affairs for each of them.
Among the 996 actors that confirmed the reception of the survey there are public administrations, organizations, companies, and institutions linked to the marine sector who were asked to respond to a questionnaire agreed by the entities responsible for the project, sent both in paper and digital format and which had an impact on several key aspects in 22 questions.
Specifically, the surveys make it possible to extract information on proximity to ecosystem services (2 questions), work carried out on their ecosystems (8 questions), work related to ecosystem services and existing research projects on ecosystem services and participants’ expectations with the MOVE project (4 questions).
In regions such as the Canary Islands, Réunion, French Guiana, New Caledonia, and the Netherlands Antilles, the objective has already been achieved or is close to be. To date, the project has already received 187 completed surveys, which represents a response rate of almost 19% written and oral in relation with those received, and is expected to continue to receive responses from partners.