General assembly elects new CIVILSCAPE president

During the Florence Meeting 2011 a new President was elected by the General Assembly. Dr Inge Gotzmann is following Mr Gerrit-Jan van Herwaarden after she was elected unanimously by the member delegates.

Dr Inge Gotzmann had studied Biology and wrote her PhD in South Africa about the impact of farming and cattle grazing on the vegetation in the Richtersfeld National Park. She is teaching at the Biology Department of the Albertus Magnus University Cologne. In her main job she is working as the director of the Bund Heimat und Umwelt e.V. (BHU) which is the umbrella organization of the associations for Heritage and Environment in the German federal states. The BHU is the biggest environmental organization in Germany with about 500,000 members and was founded more than 100 years ago. Inge Gotzmann has actively participated in the founding of CIVILSCAPE in 2008, when the BHU became a founding member of the network. The BHU supports CIVILSCAPE in many ways also with office space and technical equipment for the Bonn office.

Before the election Inge Gotzmann explained to the General Assembly her ideas, objectives and road map over the next three years:

“Landscape must become a policy focus in Europe. Many policy areas like energy, transportation, environment and agriculture are tightly related to our main issue -the European landscapes. But these policy fields provide only a sectoral view on the whole scene and a more holistic and integrated approach is needed to face successfully the up-coming challenges like climatic change or the energy crisis. These are the policy areas where citizens expect the most from policy-makers in Europe. And also these are the policy areas that will have the biggest impact on everyday life, on everyone's home and landscape.

Every landscape depends on the perception of the people and therefore provides an integrated, common view. Awareness for landscape, the struggle of the conservation of high quality landscapes and also the planning and implementation of further needs must be based on dialogue and civil participation. A Europe that is not able to involve the citizens will fail to foster civil engagement - Engagement that is fairly needed to meet the actual challenges and to develop a sustainable future in a peaceful Europe. Therefore the citizens must be placed at the heart of all European policies. The new Lisbon Treaty of the European Union has effectively strengthened European policy-making in some of these areas. But in general capacity building and to strengthen the civil sector must become a policy target for every European Country.

My work will be firmly be guided by the principle of collegiality. The creation of the new posts in the Executive Board comes therefore at the right moment. I will ensure that the ideas which have been discussed over the last years will become a firm and transparent structure of our vivid network community. I will work with my colleagues in the Board to improve our network and to serve the interests of our member organizations in more than 20 European countries. Within my term I would like to form a network with more than 100 civil society organizations and member organizations at least in all EU countries. To fuel our collaboration my team will start small projects targeting the exchange of information and experiences on all levels. These will also include EU funded projects and therefore we will try hard to ensure access of civil society organizations to information and funding schemes in Europe."

The main office in Bonn will now also be the Presidential Headquarter for the next three years.