6th Partner Meeting held online - Langeoog

The sixth partner meeting, which was due to be held on the German island of Langeoog, was once again held online due to the ongoing pandemic. As a result, we had a busy and impactful two days of online meetings and workshops and even a stay-at-home pub quiz!

The meeting was officially hosted by the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park, and was opened by Jurgen Rahmel of the same, who also presented an update on development zone for the Biosphere Reserve. Mira Hohman, also of the national park, gave a short introduction to the Langeoog and the other East Frisian islands via videos.

The project is progressing well, despite the current situation, with a reduction in the number of late deliverables from 13 to five. The project has now been extended until August 2022, which should mean that the delays should be caught up and all projects finished by the end of May next year.

The first day saw a number of interesting presentations of ongoing partnership projects from Germany, the Netherlands and the trilateral cooperation, as well as a workshop on the Wadden Sea World Heritage Brand Space with a focus on putting together an implementation plan for the content on the brand space platform. Finally, June 2021 will see a proposal for a white paper on transnational NBBC based partnership schemes.

The second day of the meeting focussed on the sustainable entrepreneurship through the work carried out in work package 5. The first example was the sustainable business model toolkit, which is aimed at SMEs and developed and tested on enterprises in the Netherlands. Helen Dawo explained the challenges faced through developing the toolkit, but that the response had been positive. Else Ragni Yttredal took the project group through the application of the scientific data to the project, in order to achieve the stated aims; the data gleaned through out the Covid-19 pandemic is a clear example of this.

One clear example of data which has been affected by the pandemic is the visitor surveys of the Wadden Sea, where complete closures of the tourism sector has caused severe delays in data gathering. It is hoped, however, that as the countries start to open up again this summer, and with a possible extension for the surveys through to August 2021, that a more complete picture can be drawn.

There was a lively discussion after Wolfgang Gunther’s presentation of the Limits of Acceptable Change study, which has been streamlined for the easier application in the pilot region. The findings from the study can be used as a tool for improving tourism and helping protect nature, such as has been done before in the UK, by providing an early warning system for pressure on certain areas.

A successful workshop, which focussed on the progress of work done in all the packages and deliverables, saw lots of lively discussions and brainstorming. Working together across the projects to aid the development of the projects is one of the strengths of the partner meetings, and this workshop proved true to form. Some projects had tangible examples of results which were shared with the group: class trip fact sheets to help more schools to visit the Danish Wadden Sea, new products and initiatives launched in Norfolk, co-creation workshops with a gastronomic focus and a transnational online workshop with beer breweries across all five nations to discuss future collaboration.

Before the partner meeting was rounded off, a discussion of future funding opportunities was led by Doro Palenberg, with a focus on developing Partnership Hub projects in line with climate, biodiversity, and marine governance, as well as how to connect the various programmes and projects across the Wadden Sea. A possible funding opportunity workshop was discussed for early autumn 2021, as there is a strong interest in continuing the work that has been carried out transnationally so far.