The EU supports ORs and OCTs with a voluntary scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories of European overseas – the BEST initiative. It is a financial mechanism supporting biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of ecosystem services. Through the programme the EU aims to enable, empower, and strengthen local actors via a grant scheme and capacity building activities. It enables local authorities and civil society organisations to work on development, conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of ecosystem services, while using ecosystem-based approaches for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
From the poles to the tropics, the European overseas areas include 34 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) or Outermost Regions (ORs).
Out of these, 12 OCTs are linked to the United Kingdom and the rest to EU member states. 9 ORs and 13 OCTs are connected to Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Found in every ocean and diverse biogeographical region, the 22 EU overseas entities are home to a unique diversity of species and ecosystems of global significance. These areas are highly vulnerable to human impacts and increasingly the impacts of climate change.
IUCN dedicates an entire team to the overseas territories and acts as coordinator for the BEST2.0 / BEST 2.0+ (OCTs) and the BEST RUP / LIFE4BEST (ORs) programmes. IUCN monitors grants awarded across the globe: in Amazonia, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, Macaronesia, the Pacific, the Polar and Subpolar, and the South Atlantic. Day-to-day implementation is partially carried out through the European office.