One of the strategic orientations coming from the Guadeloupe Conference stressed the need for facilitated access to funding for European Overseas entities’ stakeholders, especially to small-sized grants, and for regional partnerships. With BEST 2.0 the European Commission is addressing this important request and is providing new funding opportunities for projects in the OCTs.
The EU Outermost Regions (ORs) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) European Overseas entities harbour ecosystems as varied as polar seas, rain forests, tropical coral reefs or volcanic islands which provide vital services to local populations but as well as to populations far beyond the regions they are located in. Unknown to many, most of Europe’s biodiversity is located overseas and faces dire threats exacerbated by climate change. Recognizing the urgency to keep support for projects on the ground while a long-term BEST (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in outermost regions and overseas countries and Territories) financing mechanism is being elaborated, the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (EuropeAid) has decided to allocate new resources for concrete projects in the Overseas Countries and Territories through a 5 year programme called BEST 2.0. Offering new funding opportunities for OCTs actors, calls for proposals in the Overseas Countries and Territories will be organised in the two coming years with a provision of over € 6 million and an easier access to grants. BEST 2.0 is part of the B4Life flagship initiative and is aiming at tangibly supporting the environmental dimension of the EU-OCT Association Decision.
The goal of BEST 2.0 is to enable, empower and strengthen local actors, authorities and civil society organisations in OCTs who are committed to local development, biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of ecosystem services. Eligible beneficiaries will be local authorities and services, civil society organisations as well as stakeholders working in OCTs. Match funding with Outermost Regions (ORs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will be possible to meet regional needs and support regional cooperation. Five of the existing BEST knowledge hubs with OCTs (Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Pacific, Polar/Subpolar, South Atlantic) will help assure that the calls are adapted to the varying conditions and situations encountered in OCTs but will as well provide support and capacity building to local organisations and actors for proposal submissions. Independent regional advisory committees with experts will assess the proposals and advise a decision board. Thanks to this programme, new projects on the ground will be thus implemented in all OCTs addressing needs and priorities as identified in the EU-OCT Association Decision and further oriented by the OCTs’ Environmental and Regional ecosystem profiles. The BEST 2.0 programme will - amongst others - support implementing actions for biodiversity conservation, sustainable use of ecosystems and ecosystem services in the key biodiversity areas identified through the participative Ecosystem profiles process led by the BEST knowledge hubs.
As a result, the OCTs will increase their visibility and contribute to the achievements of the EU and global biodiversity targets (Aichi Targets) by maintaining and restoring biodiversity and through the sustainable use of ecosystem services. They will also serve as demonstrators of ecosystem-based approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and low-carbon economy including through genuine partnerships.