Ignace Schops

Ashoka Fellow
Brussels, VLI, Belgium, Europe
Fellow Since 2008
World Conservation Union

IDÉE

Des centaines de réserves naturelles dans des zones densément peuplées se trouvent menacées par manque de financement public. Ignace Schops a compris leur potentiel inexploité et a développé un modèle de reconnexion avec la nature dans le but d’augmenter la valeur économique et environnementale de ces réserves. En Belgique, il a piloté le premier mouvement citoyen européen, acquérant la gestion d’une réserve naturelle de 6000 hectares et la transformant en parc national.  Ignace utilise désormais ce parc pour ancrer un modèle de développement économique adaptable à des réserves de toutes tailles situées dans des régions densément peuplées à travers l’Europe.

IMPACT

En avril 2008, Ignace a reçu le “ Goldman Environmental Prize” aux États-Unis. Il a été élu président de la fédération Europarc en octobre 2014, le plus gros réseau de patrimoine naturel en Europe. RLKM possède des partenariats avec plus de 100 entreprises et a créé plus de 400 emplois. Le Parc National de Haute-Campines a été placé sur la liste provisoire de l’UNESCO pour son examen en tant que site du patrimoine mondial. Son “ Reconnection model “ inspire des acteurs publics et privés aux États-Unis, en Chine, en Corée du Sud…

QUI EST-IL ?

Ignace Schops a grandi dans un milieu désindustrialisé. Son père était mineur. Amoureux de la nature, il a engagé sa passion au service de sa région en créant un parc naturel économiquement viable dans une région connaissant des difficultés. Il a aussi créé le plus grand réseau cyclable d’Europe.

Citation

This profile was prepared when Ignace Schops was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Ignace has anticipated and seen the rise of a movement of citizens shifting their focus away from consumption and materialism and looking for a renewed relationship to nature. He has been organizing these concerned citizens around various nature reserves and preserved regions by giving them a direct access to beautiful natural areas in their vicinity and multiplying entry points into nature, adapted to all socio-economic and age groups, through the creation of biking networks and the engagement of local, regional and international conservation organizations. Over the years, he has connected hundreds of thousands of citizens with nature, in Flanders and beyond. With the support of these citizens, Ignace has found bringing together businessmen and conservationists around the protection of nature reserves in densely populated areas to be a great opportunity. Indeed, unlike the usual divergent ways of nature conservationists and the business sector, Ignace is providing a new local development approach: He is showing to businessmen the value of nature in the eyes of consumers and encouraging entrepreneurs to invest and leverage nature reserves to foster proximity tourism and economic development, with a focus on authenticity. He is hence avoiding big resorts and packaged vacation experiences that typically destroy beautiful landscapes and have a high ecological footprint. Simultaneously, he is demonstrating to conservationists that working with businesses can create economic and social value, but also and foremost can generate a stream of resources to reinforce nature conservation if they agree to bring down the fences they typically build around nature reserves. In order to facilitate and deepen the cooperation between all these stakeholders, Ignace is forming new kinds of public/private partnerships around the combined economic and ecological development of natural areas. Representing the united voice of citizens and local governments, he is leveraging public and EU funds to bring conservationists and entrepreneurs around the same negotiating table, which allows him to tap into budgets not earmarked for environmental preservation and to combine these new investment streams with funds from a broad range of private sources. He thus sustains these public/private partnerships and reinforces them through payback systems for long-term investments in the maintenance, improvement and further preservation of these areas. To facilitate and accelerate the replication of his model across Europe, he is constantly developing new financial tools and mechanisms.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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