BeBiodiversity Giving back to nature more than we take away

Giving back to nature more than we take away

As part of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Federal Public Service for Public Health, Food Chain Safety and the Environment organized a High-Level event on the crucial role of nature and biodiversity in building a sustainable future. Entitled “Regenerative development for transformative change”, the event, which took place in Brussels on April 11, was built around a central message: “Giving back to nature more than we take away”.

The ambition of the Belgian Presidency

The event was based on the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy 2030 principle of restoring nature, and went beyond to explore the practical applications of Regenerative Development for transformative change. Throughout the day, the Presidency event delved into the ways in which the concept of “Regenerative Development” can respond to the challenges we face in terms of biodiversity loss and the sustainability of the planet. To do so, the ambition of the Belgian Presidency is to highlight the potential of this new concept so that it could be taken into account in the formulation and implementation of environmental policies and initiatives, at European, national and local levels.

Thinking differently about our relationship with nature

The concept of regenerative development goes beyond the simple question of sustainability, as it also encourages us to reconsider our relationship with nature. Regenerative Development emphasises the importance of changing our thinking. and to adopting a living systems approach. This new thinking invites us to play an active part in maintaining and improving the health of the planet – for people and nature alike. It recognizes that solutions cannot be imposed universally but must instead emerge from a deep understanding of local ecosystems and cultures. Regenerative Development paints a vision of cities and communities teeming with ecological vitality, building on the limitless potential of all of life instead of thinking of problem-solving.

Presidency priorities from the perspective of regenerative development

Bringing together speakers and participants from various EU Member States and institutions – representatives of governments, academia, civil society and the private sector – the conference explored how integrating a regenerative development approach in strategies and initiatives could offer a fresh perspective for achieving biodiversity and environmental objectives.


Ms. Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President of the Club of Rome and Executive Chair of Earth4All, launched the debate by invoking that today’s complex challenges require the adoption of a new financial and economic architecture that embraces regenerative development and well-being of people and planet at the same time. The presentation of Dr. Leen Gorissen, founder of Centre4NI, served as a red thread for thinking about the concept of Regenerative Development as a transformative lever for tackling current challenges such as those caused by biodiversity loss. Expert panels and roundtable discussions dealt with various aspects of Regenerative Development, approaching them from the angle of the Presidency’s environmental priorities of Just Transition, Circular Economy, Adaptation and Resilience, as well as Nature Positivity as a key concept in the recent EU and international biodiversity agenda.

BeBiodiversity Giving back to nature more than we take away
© Theodore Markovic
BeBiodiversity Giving back to nature more than we take away
© Theodore Markovic

Key insights for European policy

Moving forward, it is important to translate discussions into actionable policies and initiatives at local, national and European levels, to foster collaboration between governments, business, academia and civil society to advance regenerative agendas. Education and capacity-building to empower individuals and communities to embrace regenerative principles also play a crucial role.


A report will be published by the FPS Health together with a research study on Regenerative Development in the upcoming weeks. The report will be accompanied by key insights from the conference to provide orientations on the concept of Regenerative Development, so that they can be  taken more fully into account in the formulation of  EU policy. This change of vision of our relationship with nature can inform  the strategies, programmes and plans of the European institutions.


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