Brussels, 2nd December 2020
To: Ambassador Clauß, Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Germany to the EU,
EU Commission President Von der Leyen,
EU Commission Vice-Presidents Dombrovskis and Timmermans
CC: Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, Siegfried Mureșan, Dragoș Pîslaru, Rapporteurs for the European Parliament
Subject: Support the biodiversity ambition under the Recovery and Resilience Facility
Dear Honorable Ambassador Clauß, Dear President Von der Leyen,
With the European Green Deal, biodiversity has found a place at the heart of European policy making. The EU Biodiversity Strategy, which has been endorsed by the Council unanimously, sets out ambitious targets. The final agreement on the EU Budget includes a 7.5% biodiversity target from 2024 and 10% from 2026 onwards.
However, there is nothing specific on biodiversity in the EU Recovery Package for the next few years.
As negotiators in the trilogues you are currently negotiating the legal framework for the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). When adopted, it will roll out a €672.5 billion heavy investment programme during the coming years. This is something unprecedented in European history and direly needed, to help society to recover from this pandemic.
Yet, communal effort of this magnitude will tie the hands of public finances for years to come. We therefore have to make sure that we achieve the best and most lasting outcome for every euro spent. The best option is a sustainable recovery, which will create the jobs that are needed today while setting the foundation for the transformation of our society into one that lives well within planetary boundaries.
The European Parliament has recently voted in favour of spending 40% of the RRF on climate and biodiversity, while the Council and the Commission proposed a 37% spending target on climate change. We urge you to align the Recovery Package with the European Green Deal: we ask you to support at a minimum the European Parliament’s position on RRF climate and biodiversity spending.
In addition, we ask you to ensure that the Commission’s guidelines operationalise the Do No Significant Harm principle with the objective of providing a clear direction on how to align investments with the objectives of the Paris agreement and European Green Deal. The taxonomy criteria should provide the minimal threshold for such a principle. If the taxonomy criteria are not available or if it is not possible to ensure that investments align with the EU’s environmental objectives, environmental safeguards must be introduced. To track climate and biodiversity expenditure, a new methodology building on taxonomy criteria must be used, as they become available. Finally, the involvement of civil society in the drafting of the national recovery plan has to be ensured, as well as a period of at least thirty days for written feedback, as requested by the European Parliament.
Biodiversity conservation must be part of this recovery, notably through the restoration of ecosystems and their services on which our economy, our food and our health depend. The International Labour Organisation and the OECD have recently highlighted the significant employment effects nature restoration can have on the economy, e.g. peatland, wetland or forest restoration  . Furthermore, restored ecosystems will provide massive long-lasting benefits to society. They are essential to achieve the Paris climate targets, as they help to store carbon as biomass or in the soil, retain urgently needed water in the landscapes and serve as a shelter for human lives and infrastructure against increasingly frequent natural disasters.
We therefore ask you to support the issues named above and to fight for an ambitious outcome of the trilogue negotiations.
Ariel Bruner, Acting Interim Director & Senior Head of Policy, BirdLife
Ester Asin, Director, WWF European Policy Office
Also on behalf of:
CEE Bankwatch Network, current chair of the Green 10 - Anelia Stefanova, Program Director
Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe - Wendel Trio, Director
European Environmental Bureau (EEB) - Jeremy Wates, Secretary General
European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) - William Todts, Executive Director
Friends of the Earth Europe - Jagoda Munic, Director
Greenpeace European Unit - Jorgo Riss, Director
Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) - Genon K. Jensen, Executive Director
Naturefriends International - Manfred Pils, Executive Director