Europe and Central Asia
12 Jan 2016

Nature laws, farming, food and invasive alien species: vital grounds to engage businesses in 2016

SPNI/BirdLife Israel has helped develop a Code of Practice on control of invasive species in quarries in an example of corporation-conservation harmony. Photo: Hartwig Brönner
By Boris Barov

BirdLife and representatives of the business sector increasingly speak a common language when talking to policy makers about biodiversity conservation, climate change, sustainable natural resource use and efficiency of environmental regulations.

We have subscribed to a number of joint positions in 2015 with sectors that apply long term thinking and planning to their business model. This includes the joint position with the cement industry (Cembureau) on the fitness check of the nature directives and the Renewables Grid Initiative on electricity networks for a safe climate in the wake of the Paris climate summit (COP21).

In light of the policy priorities for 2016, what are the themes of potential common interest with the business sector that BirdLife Europe will be pursuing? 

Clearly the so-called Fitness Check continues and the future of the Nature Directives is not yet decided, but we have already identified where our interests with the business sector coincide – better and more consistent implementation of the nature laws across the EU and across economic sectors is in everyone’s interest. We will engage with progressive businesses to ensure that nature law enforcement tools are modernised and deployed in a fair and consistent way, we’ll promote better approaches to species protection that focus on proactive measures to achieve conservation objectives and we’ll be looking at how to improve consultation and governance structures to make it easier for stakeholders to play an active role in implementation.

Secondly, the Invasive Alien Species Regulation's list of species of Union concern came into force on 1 January 2016. This will inevitably result in concern among many industries on how to handle the obligation to deal with the most acute biological invasions by applying the prevent-eradicate-manage approach. Several BirdLife partners already have experience working in the field with the minerals extraction industry. For example, SPNI/BirdLife Israel have developed jointly with Hanson Israel a Code of Practice on invasive species control for quarries.

The third, most challenging focus will be agriculture. The utter failure of the EU to truly reform the CAP left us with a mismatch between an expensive and wasteful policy on one hand and an unaddressed crisis of unsustainability in our fields on the other. At the moment, biodiversity and ecosystem services (such as clean water for crops) are being lost at a rapid pace, greenhouse gas emissions from farming are not being reduced, sustainable farmers lack support and harmful activities are massively subsidised.

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Many actors in the agri-food sector, from individual farmers to big multinationals, have understood the urgency of changing the way we produce food and manage land. We will be increasingly reaching out to these progressive actors, looking both for concrete and practical solutions in the field, and for ways to bring about the fundamental policy changes that Europe badly needs.

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. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.