Between 5 – 8 April 2022, consortium members and other stakeholders of the Safeguard project met in Seville, Spain, for the project’s first Annual General Meeting (AGM). The three-day-long event was hosted by the University of Seville and entailed informative presentations, in-depth discussions, as well as an overview of the projects’ developments, expected outcomes, and scope of future events. The opportunity to meet physically for the first time facilitated strengthening of capacity building in the form of networking, informal and friendly exchange between consortium members and stakeholders, as well as the organisation of valuable field training workshops and exercises.
During the event, the progress, challenges, and future initiatives of the Safeguard project were discussed. After a warm welcome and a short overview of Safeguard, the first day of the meeting covered the progress of the different working groups and their expected trajectory of development. An update on EU Pollinator projects and the wider EU Pollinator Initiative and research projects landscape detailed the origins of the initiative from honeybees and its gradual expansion towards wild pollinators that has driven a lot of initiatives on a national, regional and local level. The importance of the EU Pollinator Monitoring-Scheme was mentioned, with its key role of generating data for the Safeguard project. The session also touched upon the open public consultation on the revision of the EU Pollinators Initiative, which aims to put Europe's biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030.
The first afternoon session focused on the important aspect of Safeguard to assess the environmental, socio-cultural and economic values of pollinators. For this purpose, Safeguard will characterise worldviews and values of key stakeholders, and then determine how these influence decision making around pollinator conservation in the EU. The day concluded with a policy-dedicated session: following a world-café method, the session was divided into 3 smaller workshops, focusing on opportunities for EU policy engagement in 3 key areas: Agriculture, Urban Policy and Biodiversity.
The second day of the AGM meeting began with the opening talk about Safeguard’s goal to strengthen contributions to international commitments on pollinators, outlining the project’s plan to map the importance of pollinators to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by linking relevant indicators. The day proceeded with a session on the implementation of a systematic assessment of multiple pressures on pollinator communities in a European site network and how it will test indicators of pollinator decline. A selection of sites for fieldwork and sampling has been carried out for: Spain, Italy, Serbia, Romania, Hungary, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, UK, Germany, Sweden, and Estonia. In parallel, a session focussing on Safeguard’s Integrative Assessment Framework took place. The aim of this network is to facilitate evidence-informed decision making for safeguarding European pollinators at different scales (local to international) and contexts (e.g. urban, rural). The day ended with a field training workshop in the nearby public park, where the various field protocols were discuss and tested.
The third and final day of the AGM began with an interactive session focusing on communication, knowledge exchange and impact development. During the session, the importance of stakeholder mapping was emphasised and an update on the mapping exercise was provided, followed by a discussion on identifying and plugging gaps. Moreover, the overall strategic vision and mission of the project, as well as its central communication tools and channels were presented and discussed with participants. A parallel session focusing on effective responses to counteract wild pollinator declines took place. This will be achieved by assessing the potential of a range of novel intervention strategies for pollinator conservation.
Later in the afternoon, the importance of knowledge exchange through relevant stakeholder groups at national, regional, and European levels was stressed. The IUCN European Regional Office committed to the organisation of ‘buzzing tables’ – thematic stakeholder discussion groups to identify and fill in evidence gaps on wild pollinators. The day ended with a workshop on data management, which was humorously characterised as ‘simple, but not easy’. The workshop demonstrated how to organise data, create a metadata, upload data to metadata, download/exchange data and how to do statistics.
After a successful first AGM, Safeguard partners continue pursuing the mission of sustainably reducing the loss of wild pollinators across Europe!
Photo: Safeguard consortium