The IUCN Regional Conservation Forum for Europe, North and Central Asia, held on 14-16 December 2015 in Helsinki, delivered the Message from Helsinki to support mainstreaming biodiversity and inspiring new generations through a series of actions. Special focus was placed on the management of marine ecosystems that are under strong pressure from overfishing, pollution and ocean acidification and a special attention was called for the EU Overseas (Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories).
During the discussions, the 35 EU Overseas were highlighted as key stakeholders and allies for supporting a successful implementation of the national and EU Biodiversity and Climate policies as well as the international targets such as the CBD Aichi Targets and the new SDGs. The EU Overseas territories host more than 70% of EU biodiversity, with very diverse and unique ecosystems that are acknowledged to be of international importance. In addition the EU Overseas make up the largest marine domain in the world with a combined Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of > 15 million km2 and EEZs located in every ocean of the world. This huge marine domain provides to the EU and the European Member States a special role in terms of Global Ocean Governance.
With the Message from Helsinki, the IUCN members, commission members and experts attending the Regional Conservation Forum urge all actors to collaborate on halting biodiversity loss, investing in cost-effective nature based solutions for climate change adaptation and mitigation, and for ecologically sustainable development. In this regard, the critical and leadership role of the EU in global conservation, sustainable development and international negotiations has been underlined.
Among the call for actions is the need to underline biodiversity values including ecosystem services, promote and utilise IUCN Knowledge Products, engage in stronger outreach with governments, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and the wider community, and mobilise adequate funding from all possible sources. In addition to the special attention for the EU Overseas, the EU Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in European Territories (BEST) is highlighted as a prime example as an innovative financial mechanism for providing funding for long-term and broader partnerships.
The Message from Helsinki adopts the need to prioritize on nature conservation, governance and nature-based solutions and feeds into the development of IUCN’s global and regional programmes for 2017-2020.