Skip to main content
EU Science Hub
News article26 March 20183 min read

Reconnecting Nature and Culture to celebrate the European Year of Cultural Heritage

© EU

2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage. To mark the occasion, the Joint Research Centre, together with Universita’ La Sapienza in Rome and the Italian Botanical Society, has contributed to the European Commission's initiative “Our heritage: where the past meets the future”, with a book titled “Reconnecting natural and cultural capital – Contributions from science and policy”.

The recently published book presents twenty-four contributions by eighty-six authors from all over the world, which give scientific and practical examples of ways to make good use of, benefit from, and protect natural capital by reconnecting with cultural capital.

In their foreword, EU Commissioners Karmenu Vella and Tibor Navracsics highlight the benefits of productive synergies between natural and cultural capital in terms of enhanced environmental protection, increased economic benefits and employment opportunities, together with boosting economic, social and territorial cohesion. They underline the vital role of nature and culture in determining our identity as individuals and people, and in the way we see the world around us, how we interact with each other and our feelings of home.

The message of the book is that we have to retain biological and cultural diversity as a form of life insurance. They are inextricably linked and necessary to respond in a sustainable way to the current challenges of a greener economy in an increasingly intercultural society, with the final common aim of ensuring well-being for all. It is equally important to raise awareness and to ensure that interrelations and interactions between natural and cultural capital are strengthened in nature and biodiversity policies, and mainstreamed into all other policies related to land management, health and the economy.

The book is structured around the five chapters of the Charter of Rome, a science and policy initiative signed by all EU Member States and the European Commission in 2014.

“Know Natural Capital” is a necessary step to build and exchange knowledge on the benefits and values that natural capital provides, where and for whom, under specific climatic, geographical, ecological, socioeconomic and cultural conditions.

“Invest in Natural Capital” explores some approaches, tools, data and priorities to support smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, in order to maximise the well-being of people and of nature.

“Secure the functionality of ecosystems” means ensuring that the condition of ecosystems is such that they can deliver their full range of goods and services. Natural capital made of healthy and resilient ecosystems is one of the most cost-effective contributions to some of the major environmental and human challenges, such as the rehabilitation of urban areas, adaptation to climate change, the reduction of hydrogeological risks and the promotion of environment-friendly tourism, recreation, and physical and mental health.

“Link natural and cultural capitals” presents examples of positive human influences on ecosystems. The contributions to this section provide examples of how we can reconsider the balance between natural capital and cultural capital, seeing both as synergetic rather than competing forces.

“Create synergies between green infrastructure, urban and rural areas” refers to the most challenging environments of today: the urban areas which are home to a growing global population. Future perspectives should consider cities growing in a green network and not just including green areas, with green and blue infrastructure guaranteeing the connection between urban and rural areas. Such a planning perspective is a major driver of the transition to a green economy.

Finally, the Directorates-General for Research and Innovation and for Environment highlight the key aspects of innovation in nature and culture. Nature-based solutions, green and blue infrastructure and cultural heritage are all aspects taken into account in the European Commission's multidisciplinary approach to creating sustainable jobs and supporting sustainable economic growth, providing solutions for the green circular economy and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Related Content

Reconnecting natural and cultural capital – Contributions from science and policy

European Year of Cultural Heritage

Charter of Rome

New EU publication in good practices for reconnecting natural and cultural assets


Publication date
26 March 2018