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OpenNESS’ final impact assessment
Over four years of joint work has almost come to an end. During the final OpenNESS Annual Meeting in Smolenice, Slovakia, the participants presented research outcomes and discussed the impact of OpenNESS’ efforts to operationalise natural capital and ecosystem services. There was ample time to reflect on issues like what we learned about conceptual frameworks and methodologies that are helpful in carrying out ecosystem assessments, the opportunities and constraints in integrating the ecosystem services concept into practice. Discussions also focussed on what was achieved with respect to the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem services on one hand, and the links between ecosystem services and human wellbeing on the other hand.
Oppla, the new virtual knowledge hub (http://oppla.eu/what-oppla) was well covered during the full length of the Annual Meeting. This online platform and repository of resources related to ecosystem services and natural capital, was launched during last year’s European Ecosystem Services Conference in Antwerp and is still under development. One of the challenges is to integrate synthesized project outcomes into Oppla. During a dedicated session the role of this knowledge platform in future research to support effective use and uptake of its resources as well as adding to and updating it, was discussed. Oppla is currently developing well and contains already close to 90 inspiring case studies.
When discussing the way forward and what next it came especially forward that research priorities in the future should be to integrate the societal challenges further, enabling us to handle better the tensions between society and natural processes and pave the way for synergies. Healthy ecosystems and its connection to human wellbeing will become more and more important in the future and more research work is needed to better understand the interlinkages between the healthy ecosystem services supply side and the societal demand and use side. Future priorities should also be on integrating ecosystem services more systematically into the sustainability goals and other fields within society.
The meeting was held at OpenNESS partner ILE-SAS in Slovakia, from 20 to 23 March, bringing together some 80 participants from all partners.