Helping nature to help us: that was the main idea behind the European Conference on Ecosystem Services. Between 19 and 23 September 2016, more than 600 participants from all over the world made their way to the University of Antwerp to debate and learn more about how nature contributes to human well-being and vice versa. The conference resulted in the Antwerp Declaration, a call to integrate ecosystem services into policy and business operation.

In the Antwerp Declaration the signatories call for action to realize the transformative potential of the ecosystem services framework. There is a need to refocus on principles of sustainability, reclaim the notion of value and expand collaborations. You can show your support by signing the Antwerp Declaration.

The Antwerp Declaration was drafted through an innovative and iterative process with the involvement of the conference participants. For instance, prior to the conference over 120 participants replied to the Antwerp Declaration survey, on which the final declaration text was based. The conference itself offered a platform for further discussion and a place to provide more comments and input.

On Tuesday 20 September, an ecosystem services fair comprising 40 stands related to the practice of ecosystem services (projects, initiatives, companies) resulted in great networking and exchange of practical experiences and initiatives. During the fair, the new online platform Oppla was launched. This website – a result from both OpenNESS and OPERAs – is an interactive tools, methods and knowledge hub and a community for helping to put ecosystem services into practice and for supporting nature-based solutions.

Eurosite member ECNC coordinated the conference.

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