Sustainable infrastructure needs ecological solutions – it’s time to work together!
We, the participants of the IENE 2020 International Conference, acknowledge that:
- We are facing a significant worldwide expansion of transportation networks; this is especially
the case in countries with developing economies.
- If no action is taken, this global expansion will entail a substantial increase in greenhouse gas
emissions, wildlife mortality and landscape fragmentation and change, with devastating effects
on climate, biodiversity and ecosystem services.
- Globally, ecosystem services are estimated to yield more than the Gross World Product of 2019
- Despite the development and implementation of environmental impact assessment legislation,
many existing transportation infrastructure networks are not environmentally friendly. These
impacts are far-reaching with a debt being paid daily through unnecessary risks extendable to
human health and well-being.
- The economic, social, and ecological consequences of biodiversity loss and the role of
transportation infrastructure is increasingly acknowledged worldwide:
Conservation and restoration of ecological connectivity is a major flagship in the
preparation of the upcoming United Nations “Post-2020 Global biodiversity framework”
following the recognized failure of the Aichi Targets associated with the loss and
fragmentation of natural habitats (Target 5) (https://www.cbd.int/gbo5).
The European Green Deal and the new European Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, adopted
by the European Commission in May 2020, stresses the need to develop a resilient
Trans-European Nature Network supported by ecological corridors allowing the free
flow of genes and individuals
The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) states
that since 1970, transportation infrastructure is an important driver of land use change
and associated loss of terrestrial biodiversity (https://ipbes.net/global-assessment).
The World Economic Forum 2020 recognized that biodiversity loss is one of the major
threats with ‘plausible higher than average impact’ on Global Economies
- To achieve sustainability, infrastructure development must be decoupled from its negative
effect on biodiversity. This requires immediate, stringent action and shared responsibilities
from all stakeholders.
- Regional, national, and worldwide networks of experts, including researchers, practitioners,
landscape designers, managers, address such concerns through knowledge-sharing platforms
that promote effective ecological solutions.
- The scarcity of collective and coordinated efforts such as joint decision-making processes involving environmental, transportation, energy, policy and financing agencies, is still a major obstacle to achieve sustainability in transportation infrastructure projects.
Therefore, we, the participants of the IENE 2020 International Conference, call for an individual and collective endeavour to:
- Improve robust, science-driven methodologies and decision-support tools to aid sustainable
transportation infrastructure planning, based on the no-net loss recommendations, considering
cumulative anthropogenic impacts.
- Mainstream biodiversity and ecological connectivity across all phases of infrastructure planning,
development, construction, and maintenance.
- Enhance collaboration among all relevant actors in transportation infrastructure development
through the creation of a multilevel and multidisciplinary group including representatives from the
sectors of transportation (e.g. DG Move, TEN-T), energy (e.g. DG Energy) and environment (e.g. DG
Environment, TEN-G), as well as from all other relevant stakeholders.
- Acknowledge that further development of new infrastructure needs to consider cumulative
impacts within a larger landscape context; this requires integration with existing infrastructure to
guarantee overall habitat integrity and connectivity, thus accounting for potential synergistic
interactions between biodiversity impacts and ecological solutions.
- Accelerate the ecological adaptation of rapid, transparent, and fair transference of scientific
evidence-based knowledge to practitioners, managers and infrastructure designers, to avoid
negative impacts of transportation infrastructure development on biodiversity.
- Assure that investments in new transportation infrastructure projects are conditioned to an
assessment of their sustainability, considering the no-net loss recommendations to meet
biodiversity conservation targets.
- Guarantee that new transportation infrastructure projects, allocate further funding for research
and innovation, monitoring and evaluation, as well as knowledge-sharing.
- Strengthen platforms that support cooperation among scientists, practitioners, and agencies,
encouraging international studies that promote direct, rapid exchange of knowledge in a “learning
together” environment as oppose to a “learning from each other” process.
- Establish the foundation for an International “Observatory for the Ecological Effects of
Transportation Infrastructure and related mitigation works and policies”, to compile standardized
information from which new insights can be gained and new remedies can be developed.
These proposed actions are the responsibility of all of us, but the support and incentive of decision-makers
is the main foundation upon which the provision, implementation and dissemination of the actions can take
place, safeguarding a sustainable earth where biodiversity and people may thrive together.