IENE 2020 INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE DECLARATION

Published the 02/03/2021 #iene2020 #ieneconference #Portugal

Sustainable infrastructure needs ecological solutions – it’s time to work together!

We, the participants of the IENE 2020 International Conference, acknowledge that:

  1. We are facing a significant worldwide expansion of transportation networks; this is especially
    the case in countries with developing economies.
  2. 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.
  3. Globally, ecosystem services are estimated to yield more than the Gross World Product of 2019
    (https://www.worldometers.info/gdp/).
  4. 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.
  5. 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
    (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/communication-annex-eu-biodiversitystrategy-2030_en.pdf).
     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
    (https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2020).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Mainstream biodiversity and ecological connectivity across all phases of infrastructure planning,
    development, construction, and maintenance.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Guarantee that new transportation infrastructure projects, allocate further funding for research
    and innovation, monitoring and evaluation, as well as knowledge-sharing.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.