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BEST initiative - supporting biodiversity in the Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories

A voluntary scheme to protect biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories


EU Outermost Regions (ORs) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) comprise 22 political entities: nine ORs and thirteen OCTs. EU Overseas biodiversity is exceptionally rich and recognized as being of international importance. ORs and OCTs are part of biodiversity hotspots and are key actors for the implementation of international and regional conservation targets. At the same time the OR’s and OCT’s ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to invasive species, development, and climate change impacts.

The BEST initiative (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories of European overseas) is a series of actions carried out by the Commission to prioritise the protection and conservation of these areas.


The BEST initiative aims to support the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of ecosystem services in ORs and OCTs. In particular, it aims to

  • facilitate access to EU funds for actors in the EU ORs and OCTs to unlock initiatives and potential in biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of ecosystem services
  • increase the capacity of ORs and OCTs actors to access and effectively manage EU funds
  • increase the visibility of EU ORs and OCTs as key contributors to the achievement of EU and global biodiversity targets and strategies

Through the BEST initiative

new species have been discovered, and 1700 studied
New key biodiversity areas and ecological corridors have been identified
Of project beneficiaries developed new ways to sustainably use natural resources and ecosystem services


So far, BEST has supported over 100 projects in the following six regions: Amazonia, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Pacific, Polar and Subpolar, and the South Atlantic. Find out more about previously funded projects in the regions as well as their ecosystem profiles.

Apply for funding

Find out how to apply for funding for new projects. Funded through the LIFE Programme a new project, BESTLIFE2030, started in early 2023 with IUCN as the coordinating beneficiary. More information on this project can be found here.


In July 2008 a conference on "The European Union and its Overseas Entities: Strategies to counter Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss" was held in La Réunion under the French Presidency of the European Union resulting in the “Message from Reunion Island”. BEST is one follow-up to the "Message from Reunion Island" and its importance was again highlighted in the 2014 "Message from Guadeloupe". 

It all started with the BEST LIFE Preparatory Action which was first adopted by the European Parliament in 2010. It was then resubmitted twice in 2011 and 2012, with an overall budget of 6 million Euros, funding 16 projects through the 2 open calls for proposals (BEST-2011 and BEST-2012). The projects addressed issues such as designation and management of terrestrial and marine protected areas; combatting invasive alien species; climate change adaptation and mitigation; valuation of ecosystem services; networking, education, capacity-building and outreach activities.

BEST 2.0 was launched in 2014, drawing on the lessons of its predecessor. Following three calls for project proposals (2015, 2016, 2017), the programme established a grant facility for small- (up to EUR 100,000) and medium-sized (up to EUR 400,000) grants for biodiversity actions in OCTs. The grants were awarded to over 60 projects in the five OCT regions.

Another follow-up to the BEST Preparatory Action was the 3-year BEST RUP project, launched in 2017, to implement the pilot project “Inventory of Species and Habitats and Environmentally Sensitive Areas in the French Outermost Regions (ORs).” In 2020, the Life4BEST and BEST 2.0+ programmes took over following the end of BEST RUP and BEST 2.0, covering the ORs and the OCTs respectively.

Since 2018 the European Commission has also been supporting the mapping and assessment of the state of ecosystems and their services in the EU’s outermost regions and overseas countries and territories through the MOVE and MOVE-ON pilot projects.

Related links

Related topics:  Marine and coastal environment, Nature and biodiversity 

Related strategies: Biodiversity strategy for 2030

Related Commission priorities: European Green Deal 

View the archived BEST website.


For questions about EU environmental policy, please contact Europe Direct.