Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia Press Release - 23 February 2018

Break the ‘Silence of the Leaders’! – 133 NGOs call for more money for nature 

© Sonia Goicoechea

Today, as EU Heads of State assembled in Brussels to bargain over the EU budget, European NGOs demonstrated to demand more money to protect and enhance biodiversity. With nature conservation glaringly absent from the discussions on the future of Europe and the EU budget, BirdLife Europe – led by our German partner NABU –  called on those gathered to break the ‘Silence of the Leaders’.

While talks took place in the European Council, demonstrators gathered on nearby Rue de la Loi, dressed up as the different EU Heads of State, wearing ‘Silence of the Lambs’ inspired masks. Calling out the lip service that the EU pays to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), BirdLife Europe – supported by 132 other organisations – demanded that empty words be backed up with concrete budget actions: “Break the ‘Silence of the Leaders’ – more money for nature in the next EU Budget!” [1]

Harriet Bradley, EU Agriculture & Bioenergy Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe: The EU’s lip service paid to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals must change into concrete and substantive budget figures for nature. If EU leaders are to regain credibility with their citizens, they must show that they are serious about biodiversity and its essential role in the planet’s survival.”


Olaf Tschimpke, President of NABU (BirdLife Germany): “Protecting our natural heritage isn't optional, it's mandatory. Nature financing is a sustainable investment returned to us by nature with high-interest rates in the form of valuable ecosystem services like pollination of crops by insects. However, in some protected areas of Germany the total biomass of flying insects has declined by up to 75 percent over less than three decades. The current approach of financing biodiversity has obviously failed to deliver which is why chancellor Merkel and her colleagues must stand-up today and ask for a significant increase for nature financing in the next EU budget."


For further information, please contact:

Andre Prescher

EU Agriculture & Budget Policy Officer


+32 488 847 064


Harriet Bradley

EU Agriculture & Bioenergy Policy Officer

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia

+ 32 478 88 73 02


[1] Full list of supporters


[2] In September 2017, BirdLife Europe and its EU BirdLife partners adopted their joint position ‘For an EU budget serving people and nature. Our recommendations include:

  • € 15 billion fund to better protect and enhance the popular EU-wide Natura 2000 network of protected sites, paid for from targeted Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments to farmers.
  • € 1 billion ‘nature & biodiversity fund’ to ensure the enhancement of the EU’s wildly successful LIFE program.
  • € 1 billion ‘ocean fund’ dedicated to sustainable marine management
  • € 1 billion trans-European network of “green infrastructure” to ensure landscape level ecological connectivity to increase protection of migratory species.


BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is a partnership of 48 national conservation organisations and a leader in bird conservation. Our unique local to global approach enables us to deliver high impact and long term conservation for the benefit of nature and people. BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is one of the six regional secretariats that compose BirdLife International. Based in Brussels, it supports the European and Central Asian Partnership and is present in 47 countries including all EU Member States. With more than 4100 staff in Europe, two million members and tens of thousands of skilled volunteers, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, together with its national partners, owns or manages more than 6000 nature sites totalling 320,000 hectares.



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.