President of Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev, European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik and Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director, Conservation of WWF International will be among the outstanding participants, delivering the keynote speeches at the conference.
Bulgaria is one of the EU countries with the lowest material productivity values of all 27 Member States, indicating its low resource efficiency. Such profligacy in resource use has growing economic and financial implications, limiting long-term development and security of the region.
At the same time, Bulgaria and other countries of the Danube region are among the richest EU countries in terms of natural capital, providing essential goods and services, from fish and timber to clean water and carbon sequestration. In short, the future of Bulgaria and the broader Danube region will very much depend on creating more value with fewer resources, while preserving natural wealth and “green infrastructure” that is essential to human wellbeing.
Toward this end the European Commission launched a Flagship Initiative on Resource Efficiency in 2011, as part of the Europe 2020 Strategy for ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’. In its Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe, the Commission sets out milestones to help Europe achieve its targets.
By integrating targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy on ecosystem restoration, assessment and valuation, the Commission acknowledged the fundamental role that nature plays for the Union’s economic well-being. These EU initiatives are little known in Bulgaria and the wider Danube region.
At the same time, while the EU Strategy for the Danube Region provides a useful framework and potential support for promoting resource efficiency across the region, there has been little connection between these two important EU policies.
Ongoing programming for the use of EU regional and rural development funds for the next financial period 2014-20 presents a great opportunity to make significant steps toward a resource-efficient, green economy in the Danube region, and to fulfil the promise of the EU Danube Strategy.Bulgaria has made progress in using the programming for the EU regional and rural development funds to invest in the natural capital. First government proposals have been discussed with stakeholders and submitted to the European Commission.
The “Saving Resources” conference will seek to:
- Raise awareness among relevant authorities and key stakeholders, including from the private sector and non-governmental organizations regarding opportunities and challenges related to a resource efficient and green economy.
- Develop recommendations for national and regional policy makers for implementing the EU Resource Efficiency Flagship Initiative in the Danube region and informing national and regional policymaking, including within the framework of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.
- Highlight opportunities, good practice and recommendations related to treating biodiversity and ecosystem services as key elements of a resource-efficient and green economy.
- Network partners with an interest in further discussion and work related to resource efficiency in the Danube region.
The conference is organized by WWF, thanks to the financial support of the EC and the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria.
The keynote addresses will be streamed online here, in the original languages on 25 June 2013 from 9 am EET, 8 am CET.