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Networking for Nature: the NEA Initiative Global Workshop


UNEP-WCMC’s Policy team reports on the collaboration and progress showcased at the long-awaited NEA Initiative Global Workshop, which took place in autumn 2022.

October was a momentously important month for the National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) Initiative; after three long years, the initiative and its consortium and country partners were finally able to meet back in-person on the occasion of the NEA Initiative Global Workshop 2022. 
 
Hosted in Cambridge, UK, the workshop ran from October 24-28 and was delivered in partnership with UNDP and UNESCO, under the umbrella of the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Network (BES-Net), in a hybrid meeting format. The NEA team welcomed 50 participants, including eight country teams (Botswana, Malawi, Thailand, the Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Grenada, Azerbaijan, and Bosnia and Herzegovina) and practitioners from advanced NEA participant countries, including experts from Colombia, Cameroon, and Vietnam. 

The event was aimed at providing newer participant countries with a greater understanding of key concepts within the evaluation and use of the assessment findings stages of the NEA assessment process. With a rich agenda of technical sessions and peer-to-peer learning, the workshop helped identify and progress opportunities for capacity development and provided updates on individual project progress and lessons learned. Key topics ranged from stakeholder engagement, to community participatory mapping and engaging the private sector in the assessment process, and the sessions all contained important guidance and considerations relating to the vital need to promote and include gender balance and Indigenous peoples and local communities in NEA development. 

The five-day workshop presented an unrivalled opportunity for country representatives to exchange experiences of implementing and innovating national ecosystem assessments, and a chance for the NEA Initiative to receive feedback to strengthen its support.  

It was marked by a strong spirit of knowledge exchange and collaboration, with country teams reaffirming their commitments to assess the status and drivers of change to biodiversity and to transform policies to account for people and nature.

The NEA Initiative Global Workshop 2022 demonstrated the commitment, leadership and valuable contributions of this network of scientists and practitioners, who are part of the national assessments and provide relevant, available and reliable information for decision-making and the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and ecosystem services around the world.

The need to close the gap between science, policy, and practice is more evident than ever, if we hope to address the current global environmental challenges humanity is facing. National ecosystem assessments are a living process and not static documents. Further exchange of lessons learned, knowledge and strengthening the network of practice were agreed as a step forward.

Juanita Chaves, Head of the NEA Initiative team

All resources that are relevant to the workshop, including presentations and recordings, are available on the NEA Initiative website here

The NEA Initiative would like to thank our consortium partners and donors, without whom the event would not have been possible. 

The NEA Initiative at UNEP-WCMC is part of BES-Net, working in partnership with UNDP and UNESCO. Financial support for the NEA Initiative is being provided by the International Climate Initiative of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety, and Consumer Protection of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Norwegian Environmental Agency, the Japan Biodiversity Fund, and SwedBio.

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