One Europe, More Nature: the solutions

 / ©: Csaba Vaszko
Chopping down invasive Amorpha plants near the Tisza River in Hungary to restore wetlands and produce biofuel at the same time
© Csaba Vaszko
WWF is actively seeking out new opportunities where the OEMN approach can be applied and “mainstreamed”. Many urban Europeans are now becoming more concerned about tying what they buy and eat with their associated impacts in rural areas. Increasingly, they won’t buy unless nature is protected or even strengthened. Increasingly, more Europeans want more nature. They want conservation to be mainstreamed into everyday life. And the OEMN approach helps make it happen.
In the `One Europe More Nature (OEMN)´ project, `One Europe´ means having all players participating in the same game, rather than focusing narrowly on one’s own piece of land, farm, town, business, species, forest or economic sector – and conflicting with each other. The `More Nature´ part happens if we do all work together for rural landscapes in Europe, and ensure the protection of our most important and silent partner – nature.

OEMN is different. Its approach is based on eight steps that help to transform rural problems into solutions and benefits for all:

1. Starts with an on-the-ground problem: There are rural places in Europe where nature has been, or may soon be, damaged by human actions. Land and resources are inadequately used to make income. Locals are further affected by external drivers of change such as consumers of their products in other countries, climate change or EU law.

2. Identifies the opportunities and players: Each place has a unique set of concerns and opportunities. OEMN identifies the place’s natural assets and the needs of local people to make income. It goes beyond to discover how it is being, or could be, impacted by external drivers of change, and identifies who is a problem, and who could be part of the solution.

3. Believes that nature and business can co-exist: `Nature´ and `business´ have to be taken out of the separate, compartmentalized spheres that so many of us have them now boxed in. What is good for business can also be good for nature.

4. Works through partnerships: The players currently interact with each other in a certain way. But as a result, one or more of them is losing -- one is always the silent partner called `nature´. OEMN re-engineers the situation by creating new and unusual partnerships so that everyone wins. A sure ingredient is business involvement with the financial resources and/or know-how to make the required changes work.

5. Creates new mechanisms: The eventual change that occurs through the new partnership is known as the `mechanism´ - the new action or actions taken that will lead to win-win solutions for all. What the mechanism is depends on the place and situation (See Projects in Practice).

6. Supports and builds a “new economy”: Many rural areas rely on one economic sector for their jobs and survival – often farming or forestry. That is risky, especially because of the external drivers of change, beyond rural control, which could overturn the situation almost overnight – from closed markets to natural disasters. To reduce risk and increase resilience, they need to become more diversified, especially through additional income streams from existing natural assets or `environmental services´ provided by nature such as wetlands purifying our water and forests helping to stop erosion. Producers and consumers continent-wide should also consider the impacts of their purchases on the health of rural environments, to help transform markets.

7. Proves the approach through pilot projects: The partnership and mechanism are tested at a rural location. Many such `pilot projects´ have already been initiated by WWF throughout Europe, at times with incredible achievements -- showcases and living examples of how OEMN can and does work (See Projects in Practice).

8. Magnifies the success: Magnification is about targeting new locations, economic sectors and businesses. Building on the successes of the pilot projects, WWF wants the OEMN approach to be replicated throughout Europe. Some OEMN mechanisms are already being magnified in new locations. And putting one new mechanism and partnership into practice can often trigger other innovative business initiatives at the same location -- once the domino effect gets into high gear, the diversified new economy really starts taking off.

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