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CEECEC @ ISEE 2010 in Bremen!

On August 23, 2010, CEECEC delegates from 8 of the consortium’s 14 member organisations gathered for the project’s last major dissemination event in Oldenburg, Germany, at the ISEE Biennial Conference. Attending were representatives of ICTA-UAB, Spain (the Coordinators);A Sud, Italy; Endemit, Serbia; VODO, Belgium; REBRAF, Brazil; ULB, Belgium; SERI, Austria; and IFF, also of Austria. Hali Healy of ICTA UAB began by introducing the project and the new online handbook, Ecological Economics from the Bottom-Up. Designed to be used as a learning/teaching resource, the handbook is made up of 14 chapters from case studies written by CSOs from around the world, working on environmental issues such as natural park management, waste management, forestry, water management, corporate accountability and liability, transport infrastructure and mining. Each chapter demonstrates how different ecological economics concepts and tools might be applied to the topics at hand, with the text containing hyperlinks to a glossary of over 80 concepts and tools, from Access and Use Rights to Well-Being. The handbook is available online at http://www.ceecec.net/handbook/ and comments/suggestions from readers are most welcome.

Then Johannes Fruehmann of SERI, the technical partner of the consortium, provided a peek into the trial online course run by CEECEC from April-July of this year. Accessed via the Moodle in the project website, 25 students from across the globe took part in this interactive course made up of lectures featuring slides and audio, case study readings, a glossary of ecological economics terms and other resources, online discussion forums and assignments. Students came largely from NGOs, but also university and public/private sector backgrounds and offered overwhelmingly positive feedback on the course, particularly citing the value of the case studies and the practical illustrations they provided of how ecological economics tools and concepts could be relevant to CSO work. CEECEC coordinators are now looking into opportunities to continue running the course after making improvements based on feedback.

Then it was time to hear from our CSO partners who spoke of the benefits that their collaboration with ecological economics researchers had brought to their respective organisations and their work. Lucie Greyl of A Sud highlighted new competencies gained for engaging in scientific research, the enlarged network and range of new partners now within A Sud’s reach, the creation of opportunities to connect the efforts of scientists, policymakers and activists, and the increased profile and legitimacy of their work in doing so. She also explained that her organization now was ready to take part in other European projects. Nick Meynen of VODO spoke of the positive experience of being able to engage with researchers to generate high quality data, deepening the legitimacy of the concept of ecological debt, and making it a public/global issue, as well as private/local one. He also welcomed the chance to enter into dialogue with a large private company on the matter, and the additional opportunity to expose that company’s employees for the first time to the field of ecological economics. He explained that the chapter he wrote with ULB partners was now ready to be sent to an academic journal.  Biljana Macura spoke enthusiastically of new proposals emerging from within Endemit for working with managers of Djerdap National Park to develop strategies for sustainable park management, and for co-management of the park’s resources. New opportunities are also expected to arise for cross border co-operation with neighbouring Romanian NGOs. In mapping conflicts of other smaller NGOs in the region through the report “A Study of Environmental Conflicts and Issues in South-Eastern Europe: Possible Collaboration between CSOs and Ecological Economists” (to be translated into Serbian) and by integrating ecological economics concepts and tools into their outreach activities, Biljana was furthermore convinced that Endemit has helped to build the capacity of smaller local CSOs by exposing them to the tools and concepts of ecological economics and possibilities for collaborative work with researchers. Finally, Peter May spoke of how REBRAF’s case study on REDD would be used to empower smaller NGOS in the region (and beyond) with similar interests in developing REDD proposals. REBRAF is now involved in a new policy mix project, an FP-7 funded offshoot of CEECEC that aims to transfer knowledge of economic and command & control instruments for biodiversity conservation in Latin America to European contexts. This project will enable instruments that have been devised in Mato Grosso to reduce deforestation (Including transfer of development rights as highlighted in the CEECEC case study) to be widely disseminated and may serve as a basis for reducing threat of biodiversity loss in Europe as well.

These testimonials were welcome contributions, verifying the value of the collaborative activities undertaken within the CEECEC project. ICTA-UAB now looks forward to co-ordinating its next project, EJOLT (Environmental Justice Organisations Liabilities and Trade), designed to build on the success of CEECEC from January 2011.

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