Financing Natura 2000
In Europe, investments in biodiversity conservation must be massively increased. The EU needs first of all to ensure sufficient financing for the Natura 2000 network, the cornerstone of European biodiversity policy and therefore a budget priority for the EU.
Studies show that investing now in safeguarding and restoring functioning ecosystems and biodiversity provides high returns, whereas, the costs of inaction on biodiversity loss are by far bigger. A study commissioned by the European Commission estimates the cost in Europe for policy inaction in not halting the loss of biodiversity will be 1 trillion Euros annually by 2050.
The EU needs to save citizens’ money in times of austerity. Several case studies estimated that the EU’s Natura 2000 network generates economic benefits about seven times higher than its costs. In addition, Natura 2000 has the potential to create employment even if this is not its primary aim. With an investment of 1 billion EUR of EU subsidies, investing in the Natura 2000 network can create five to nine times more jobs than current spending policy of agriculture subsidies (29,000 jobs compared to 3,000 – 6,000 jobs). Investment in the Natura 2000 network would lead to diverse types of employment including increasing jobs in the agricultural sector.
Despite this evidence the mobilisation of financial resources in the EU is very slow and insufficient to meet agreed biodiversity targets. The costs of a fully operational Natura 2000 network are estimated to be less than 6 billion EUR annually for the whole EU and around 4% of the EU budget. Environmental NGOs suggest that the EU budget should cover 50-75% of these costs, while the remainder should be financed by EU Member States. However, studies show that so far less than one fifth of Natura 2000 costs are met by the EU Budget, with shares from Member States share likely to be even lower.
Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.