With strong biodiversity policies and integration of nature-based solutions into other sectors such as agriculture, water, health and urban planning, nature can provide many benefits. The protected natural sites of the Natura 2000 network offer a diverse range of opportunities for business development, cooperation between sectors, green job openings and other advantages for communities.

An audience composed of more than 50 participants of several EU nationalities gathered last week in the heart of Brussels to listen to success stories at the “How can people and the economy benefit from nature? Stories from citizens” conference. Participants mostly had a background in the non-governmental sector, the European institutions or academia.

Nature/people/economy symbiosis cases creating flourishing societies and economies presented at the conference provided strong arguments for implementing more innovative, nature-based solutions that can address contemporary social and economic challenges in the European Union.

CEEweb for Biodiversity presented the results of the “What is your favorite gift from nature?” contest that targeted Members of the European Parliament, asking them to choose the preferred ecosystem services. Postcards with images of nutrition (tasting nature), clean air (Take a Deep Breath), clean water (Thirst for Life), medicine (The Healing Power), raw materials (In a Raw), recreation opportunities (Moving Forward), pest and disease control (On a Patrol), pollination and seed dispersal (No Bees? No Food, No Humans), flood and storm protection (To Serve and to Protect), climate regulation (Keeps it Cool), pollution and toxic substances control (Detox for our Planet) and opportunities for spiritual interactions (The Sixth Dimension) were distributed with a call for dissemination among individuals that are not involved in an environmental sector.

Eurosite introduced the Natura 2000 social media branding campaign stressing the benefits Natura 2000 can provide to local economies, aiming to trigger new partnerships between site managers, farmers and local businesses, and improve perceptions of and increase support for the Natura 2000 network.

The conference ended with a surprise concert by Katy Carr, a British singer, and with tasting delicious products from protected areas.

The conference is organised by CEEweb for Biodiversity, Eurosite and IUCN, supported by the European Commission and hosted by the Members of the European Parliament from Hungary Mr. Benedek Javor, Czech Republic Mr. Pavel Poc and Finland Ms. Sirpa Pietikäinen.

Find out more about what our panelists and presenters have said and have a look at conference’s atmosphere on the Twitter profiles @Eurosite and @Natura2000brand.