Our researchers are joining the fight against biodiversity loss in Europe16 May, 2023
DRIFT action researchers have joined the BIONEXT project. Together with nine other European research centres, we will develop knowledge that helps to centre the biodiversity crisis when developing policy around, for example, water management, mobility and healthcare.
In the four-year BIONEXT project, researchers hailing from the European Union and the United Kingdom will further substantiate how biodiversity is a fundamental condition for our primary needs: from clean drinking water to good nutrition and a healthy living environment. The European project team, led by Finnish environmental institute SYKE, engages policy makers, decision makers and minorities in their quest for just and transformative change for a more biodiverse Europe. To this end, a European network of governments, companies, neighborhood initiatives and other organizations is being set up.
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‘Transformative change’ means that organizations and individuals stop focussing on doing more good things and less bad things within the current system – rather that in their work for a better future, they try to fundamentally change themselves and the system in which they operate.
Biodiversity loss: a crisis that’s too quiet
While scientists agree on the need for transformation, it is less clear exactly what kind of changes are required in the fight against the biodiversity crisis. Researchers at DRIFT are going to work on exactly this question and are also looking for promising and existing examples from practice.
“Biodiversity loss is now a silent crisis. This calls for a bigger approach. If humanity succeeds in preserving as much variation as possible in animals, plants, their genes and their ecosystems, it will make a world of difference to our food supply, health and climate,” says Aniek Hebinck.
“While biodiversity underpins every aspect of life, the issue fails to fully break through to meeting rooms and policy documents. It is treated too much as an afterthought. Now is the time for various sectors to start thinking about this topic and initiate radical transformative change,” says Hebinck.
Green avenues and root-enforced dikes
Already known examples of initiatives that give biodiversity a leading role in various sectors are:
- The construction of so-called ‘linear greenery’ such as hedges or rows of trees along roads. These absorb sound, capture CO2, provide rainwater storage and filtration, but are also used by birds and bats as migration routes. Governments or organizations that primarily try to plant this greenery ‘for the benefit of biodiversity’ may find it difficult to allocate money, attention and time for this. This becomes easier when, for example, it is also used for traffic safety or against noise nuisance.
- The planting of deep-rooted plants and flowery species can prevent the erosion of dikes, as researchers from Wageningen University and Research demonstrated in 2021. There are opportunities here for new collaborations between ministeries and more local authorities and organisations.
BIONEXT researchers will collect more of such practical examples from all over Europe. In doing so, they create a picture of how biodiversity can be fruitfully embedded in policy and/or market practices. The lessons that researchers will learn from these examples on ‘how it can be done’ will form the basis of recommendations that BIONEXT will make to the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), EU policymakers and civil society.
The BIONEXT project has received funding of €4.1 million from the research and innovation program Horizon Europe and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and is coordinated by the Finnish Environmental Institute SYKE together with 10 partners from eight European countries.
See the BIONEXT website (bionext-project.eu) for more information or get in touch with Aniek Hebinck.