How to benefit from linking nature conservation and sustainable growth by unlocking the potential of nature heritage brands is the focus of the new Interreg VB project PROWAD LINK. On 4 and 5 February over 50 stakeholders from Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom took part in the first PROWAD LINK Forum in Leeuwarden and on Ameland in the Netherlands to discuss brand activation and engagement, co-creation and sustainable entrepreneurship. They followed the invitation of the Municipality of Ameland, Province of Friesland, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat.
The forum was opened by Nienk Hoepman from the province of Fryslan, followed by Jaap Verhulst from the organising ministry, who said that “We believe that nature and business can go hand in hand. When entrepreneurs see that nature benefits them, they will be keen to protect it.”, adding the words “it Giet oan” meaning “let’s start”. The PROWAD LINK project will engage small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in nature conservation to unlock as a driver for jobs and sustainable regional development.
The meeting included presentations of PROWAD LINK as well as other current Interreg projects in the Wadden Sea Region, namely Nakuwa, Waddenagenda, SalFar. Guest speakers from the Jurassic Coast (United Kingdom) and the Dolomites (Italy) shared their experience on brand activation and SME engagement. An excursion to SMEs on Ameland gave some practical insight to engaging with nature heritage brands. During his presentation of the Klein Vaarwater Hans van Houten explained “I want people to be able to experience the Wadden Sea 100 years from now. Therefore it is important for our work concept of today to include a sustainable approach and protect the nature.”
PROWAD LINK started in September 2018 with the aim to unlock the potential of natural areas as a driver for jobs and sustainable development. Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are approached to develop nature as a brand to create benefits for both, SMEs and the environment. 14 project partners in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom working with interested SMEs will use the “nature-business-benefit-cycle” concept to develop new, sustainable products and offers. The 3-year project will be implemented in the pilot regions of the Wadden Sea (DK, D, NL), Geiranger Fjord (NO), Wash & North Norfolk Coast (UK). The 3.8 million euro-project is co-funded by and carried out in the framework of the Interreg North Sea Region Programme under the Programme Priority 1 “Thinking Growth”. The programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) of the European Union.