Karine Zaunberger, who is the officer responsible for monitoring the MOVE project within the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment, gave a very positive assessment of the work carried out in the first year of this initiative, which seeks to map the ecosystem services in the Outermost Regions (ORs) and other Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) associated with the EU. Zaunberger attended the annual meeting of the MOVE Consortium that took place between 26th and 27th of May 2019 in the Canary Islands (Spain) at the Faculty of Marine Sciences of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
Zaunberger said she was very happy to see “how the MOVE project was already on track and is gathering pace”. The main initial work, she explained, has already been done, and the two meeting days in Gran Canaria have allowed, with all participants contributions, to specify the criteria for the choice of case studies and, most importantly, to choose the firsts ones where they will perform the mapping and evaluation of ecosystem services within the ORs and OCTs of the European Union.
During her interview, Karine Zaunberger underlined that the MOVE project “is very special, because it is not a simple research project”, she explained, “having been born from the motivation and demand of actors who have managed to attract the attention of members of the European Parliament and who represent the outermost and most remote regions of the EU”.
She reminded that this project would not have existed without the precedent NetBiome Consortium (Network of actors from Outermost Regions and Overseas Territories and Countries), whose final conference took place in Brussels, where it was conjured to keep working for biodiversity in these territories. At European level, good work already exists within the framework of the European Union’s biodiversity strategy for the mapping and evaluation of ecosystem services, but it did not include the ORs and OCTs of the EU.
Hence, she remarked, the promotion from Brussels of the union of the experiences of the ESMERALDA Project (coordinated by the University of Hanover) and the stakeholders of all the member states from the so-called EU Overseas (the NetBiome partnership) far from the European mainlands. “There we got a small – large network scheme, in which it could already be seen that there was a vibrant energy”, said the EU Officer, “with teams involved and a very open mind”. After this, obviously, there was the fact that the members of the European Parliament representing the outermost and remote territories managed to generate a pilot project, that is, guarantee funds to start this work.
It was the MOVE Consortium that won the European tender that Karine Zaunberger herself supervises. “I am impressed with the work done and the ambition shown to achieve the results, how they have set out to do something and what they are achieving,” she says. However, “I still perceive a certain timidity and I know that more can be done and that there is still a lot to be done, but the potential there is really spectacular”. For Zaunberger, the work done already makes it possible to think of the conclusion of the preparatory phase and to start the practical work, the work in the field, which he wished would allow them to “identify more stakeholders”.
The European official responsible pointed out that a second tender is currently pending, the date of which expired on 30 April last and for which two bids have been submitted”.