The EU Biodiversity Strategy
Biodiversity is life. Biodiversity is our life
The slogan for the International Year of Biodiversity that is celebrated in 2010 puts into simple words what is at stake. The rapid loss of species and their habitats is undermining the chances of humanity to tackle and come safely through climate change. Currently, terrestrial and marine ecosystems absorb roughly half of the CO2 emissions humanity generates. If we continue to destroy these ecosystems, they may turn from being “climate allies” into uncontrollable emitters of greenhouse gases. Healthy and diverse nature also protects us from storms, floods, and drought that a changing climate will bring. Furthermore, hard evidence is building on the economic values of biodiversity – and the huge costs of inaction. Last but not least, we strongly believe in our moral duty to preserve the beauty of our planet for future generations.
2010- The International Year of Biodiversity
The European Union’s governments are failing to meet their target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010. This embarrassing news comes at a time when Europe once again wants to be seen as a world leader in environmental protection - and at a time when our shaken economy is at a crossroads. 2010 will show whether Europe will follow a destructive “business-as-usual” approach, or whether we can start building an environmentally and economically stable future.
The International Year of Biodiversity has to mark a turning point for the future of this planet. This requires strong leadership from the European Commission, the European Parliament and Member State governments.
Three steps towards meaningful EU action on biodiversity
The following steps must be taken to ensure the EU this time succeeds on the biodiversity challenge:
1) In the first half of 2010 the EU must adopt a far-reaching and ambitious 2020 biodiversity target, that aims not only at halting the loss of species and habitats, but at restoring them to favourable levels; at the same time the importance of functioning ecosystems in the context of climate change and economic development must be expressed.
2) In the run-up to, and at, the UN biodiversity conference (CBD-COP10) in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010 the EU must demonstrate leadership and inspiration through ambitious and credible commitments for action – which must include support for biodiversity conservation outside its borders, and the reduction of Europe’s global ecological debt.
3) By 2011 the EU must adopt an effective and binding new biodiversity strategy to ensure the new 2020 target will be met. This strategy has to be a powerful “rescue package for biodiversity” – to be implemented with urgency following its adoption.
What should be part of the biodiversity rescue package?
The future EU Biodiversity Strategy should be a package of actions that then has to be implemented with urgency by all relevant Institutions at EU, national and local level. Please download here BirdLife’s outline for the biodiversity rescue package. In summary the key elements should be at EU level:
a) a significant boost to the better (and better integrated) implementation, financing and communication of existing EU environmental legislation, most notably the outstanding Birds and Habitats Directives with Natura 2000, but also Water Framework, Marine Strategy Framework, EIA and SEA Directives);
b) new EU legislation and policies to fill gaps and address new challenges, in particular on Invasive Alien Species, Soil, protection of biodiversity in the EU’s outermost territories and regions, and new effective measures to protect ecosystems and the services they provide against the impacts of climate change across the whole landscape;
c) reform sectoral policies as far as they are still undermining the conservation of biodiversity policy (especially agriculture, fisheries, cohesion policies in the EU) and put the preservation of ecosystems at the heart of the EU’s external/development policy;
d) reform the EU Budget to make it deliver for and not harm biodiversity and the resilience of ecosystems; in particular significantly increase direct spending for biodiversity and the Natura 2000 network from the EU budget, and stop environmentally harmful subsidies. At the same time move towards an economic model that factors in the consumption and preservation of ecosystem services and natural capital, instead of being based just on the GDP;
e) significantly increase research and communication on ecosystems and biodiversity, create a science-policy biodiversity interface, and move towards streamlined and transparent monitoring and reporting schemes. Massively increase awareness raising on the importance of biodiversity for human well-being and economic prosperity.