Once upon a time.......we created prosperity. We produced and consumed, produced and consumed. We acted as if resources were infinite. And we dumped the worthless fractions. Waste was scattered everywhere. We created landfills all over Europe. You couldn't even count them, but estimations run about half a million of them. Half a million! Which resulted in lots of abandoned places with a legacy from our consuming past. Places which mostly were not suited for environmental protection. However, some of them were suited, but unfortunately they are also isolated for an everlasting period according to the EU-legislation 'isolate, monitor and control'.
It was the era of never ending resources and landfills were final destinations.
And then................on a sunny day some environmentally conscious gnomes from several EU-member states felt unsatisfied and came together. And they asked princess Annick to take the lead. Who doesn't want to be led by a charming princess? They discussed the limits to the landfills. 'We need to stop the unrestrained growth of landfills', 'we have to mine them to reuse the resources' and 'we must transform them into recreation areas' were some of the suggestions mentioned. The gnomes agreed it is clear that there is no customized solution for the half a million landfills in Europe. They discussed all over and suggested to make a European project from it. The bearded gnome (better known as the strategic thinker) faced the challenge to start a project to change the static view of landfill management to a dynamic one. So they decided to plant a seed in the Interreg ground and developed a project plan. In the first instance Interreg wasn't that enthusiastic, but after throwing charm into the battle by princess Annick and adjusting the plan, they agreed. Interreg donated 85% of the costs and the game could start.
Years of hard working followed. Interregional Exchange of Experience meetings and stakeholder meetings were organized, site visits were organized, good discussions took place also due to the hospitality of the organizing project partner, lots of stakeholders were involved, action plans were developed, good practices were collected, shared and even an good practice handbook will be written.
We are now in 2019. Fase one of COCOON is finished. The gnomes and stakeholders do no longer see a landfill as the final destination of waste. They see them as stock of resources for future generations and the land can be re-used for new functions.
The landfill gnomes planted a seed and a new baby is born in their COCOON cradle. But they're not finished yet. Fase two will start by monitoring the action plans. Unfortunately without cozy partner meetings. All the gnome COCOON partners will do their best to work on a new future in which they cherish mother earth with respect. They will be an example for others.
And the next generations lived happily ever after.