Anne Teller, European Commission, DG Environment
Anne Teller is chairman of the EU MAES initiative on Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services.
‘Now, we have to take the natural capital outside the biodiversity family’
When looking at the Dutch approach to natural capital, I feel really inspired. It is very pragmatic, making the best use of the information available. And it is very bottom-up, involving a large number of people from lower government and the business community. I think it is very powerful to involve so many people and create such a broad community of practice.
The work on ecosystem services is advancing at different speeds in the various Member States. With the MAES initiative, the European Commission supports EU countries in taking this on and adapting it to their own situation. We have provided methodological guidance, practical tools and training. For example, the quick scan tool for ecosystem services developed by the EEA and Alterra is very much appreciated by users, after they have been trained on how to apply it using their own data. It is the process that has an important overall impact, even more so than the outcome; countries that had not worked on ecosystem services before, have now started.
For the next phase of MAES, we are committed to deliver maps and assessments of the state of ecosystems and the services they provide within the EU. These could help show hotspots of ecosystem degradation and opportunities for improvement, as a basis for better informed decision-making, especially in relation to spatial planning. Our task at EU level is to provide the big picture, it is up to the Member States to produce more detailed information for their own countries and decision-making processes. In doing so (and when using the same methodology, of course), it is very important to establish a common knowledge base.
A major opportunity is that of mainstreaming the concept outside biodiversity policy; for example, under the CAP, the marine policy or the cohesion policy. At the same time, reaching out to these policies remains the biggest challenge. To make sure the information we provide is useful in the decision making process, we work closely with policymakers and experts from the different sectors. Not only on compiling the information, but also on assessing it. Let us make this a true collaborative initiative!