Hans von Sonntag | 13.06. 2024

Romanians have a unique bond with nature, deeply influenced by their history, culture, and geography. Traditional Romanian villages are often set amidst breathtaking landscapes, with a way of life intimately connected to the rhythms of nature. Agriculture, shepherding, and forestry have long been the backbone of rural communities. However, issues like deforestation, pollution, and ongoing development are increasingly in the spotlight, fuelling a growing environmental movement driven by both local and global concerns. As always, financial support is crucial to sustain these efforts.

Peter Howell, Executive Director of The Conservation Finance Network sets the stage for the upcoming three days by introducing the participants to the basics of conservation finance. Photo Hans von Sonntag
The participants visit traditional grazing pastures in Angofa, Romania. In these pastures, orchids and other rare plants are not uncommon. Photo Hans von Sonntag

 

Fundatia ADEPT’s new headquarters in Angofa, Romania. Angofa was a traditional village that had been entirely moved to the nearby city of Sighișoara.  Inspired by North Korea, the Systematization in Communist Romania started in 1974, primarily involving the partial or complete demolition and reconstruction of villages, towns, and cities across Romania, with the declared aim of transforming the country into a “multilaterally developed socialist society”. Photo Hans von Sonntag

 

The 2nd European Conservation Finance Boot Camp is not just an event, but a significant opportunity to experience the hospitality of Fundatia ADEPT in Angofa, Transylvania, Romania, and to be part of a movement that is shaping the future of conservation finance.

Barbara Promberger-Fuerpass (Executive Director of Caparthia) talks to Darius Verseckas (Heavyfinance, left), Peter Howell and Claudiu Serban (Institutul de Cercetare Dezvoltare pentru Montanologie Cristian, right). Photo Hans von Sonntag

 

The Conservation Finance Boot Camp is a dynamic training program tailored for mid-career professionals eager to master innovative and effective financing strategies for land and resource conservation, restoration, and stewardship. Organised annually by the US-based Conservation Finance Network, these boot camps unite the private sector, charitable foundations, public agencies, conservation groups, and academic institutions in a collaborative effort to advance conservation finance.

1,700 bears living in Transylvania don’t pose a threat to cattle breeders when traditional caution has been taken. Photo Hans von Sonntag

 

Last year, the first European Conservation Finance Boot Camp debuted in Italy, significantly expanding this impactful training to Europe. This year’s event was funded by LIFE Programme, co-funded by ILCN, organised by NABU, The Conservation Finance Network, Eurosite, and hosted by Eurosite member Fundatia ADEPT.

Much funding remains untapped because Europe’s conservation sector traditionally relies on the public rather than adding private funds to the mix. Consequently, European conservation NGOs often find themselves dependent on EU funding instruments for environmental and climate actions. These programmes typically require substantial copayments, leading to self-exploitation and weakened budget plans. Finding co-financing solutions is, therefore, essential. In fact, the EU Commission actively encourages NGOs to engage the private sector in their conservation activities.

Cristi Gerghiceanu (Executive President Fundatia Adept) on the right enjoys with Tomáš Kušík (BROZ) the view. Photo Hans von Sonntag

 

Daisy Bidault (Finance Earth) chats with Paul Leadbitter (North Pennines National Landscape). Photo Hans von Sonntag
A view from Fundatia ADEPT’s headquarters at noon. In the forest lives at least one bear as participants witnessed. Photo Hans von Sonntag

 

Equally important as these financial tools and strategies, role models, and pioneers are the networking opportunities. Engaging in uplifting discussions, participants forged new partnerships and expanded their horizons, inspired by the success stories of private sector engagement in conservation.

A nearby bee-eater colony triggers the participants’ attention. Photo Hans von Sonntag

 

From left to right, the key organisers are Carolina Halevy (Eurosite) and Laura Chirila (Fundatia Adept). Photo Hans von Sonntag

 

The participants enjoy a brief sightseeing tour. Sighișoara’s old town is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Photo Hans von Sonntag

 

Transforming the agricultural and forestry sectors into nature-friendly industries and making the environment resilient to climate change threats are monumental societal challenges. These challenges can only be solved shoulder-to-shoulder with the private sector. It’s time for NGOs to learn how the corporate sector works and how we can collaborate. The European Conservation Finance Boot Camp is an important piece of this puzzle.