Europe and Central Asia

Press release: Ecological collapse is near

Brussels – 6 May 2019 

New damning UN report shows biodiversity declining faster than at any time in human history

Today, IPBES (Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) released their new “Global Assessment Report”, put together by 150 leading international scientists and experts from 50 countries over the past three years. The report, which was last released in 2005, dedicates 1 800 pages to showing the “social and ecological emergency” the world is now facing.

On the future of Europe
Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of Policy, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia:  
You can focus on any specific part of this report, but the takeaway message remains the same. The collapse of biodiversity is an existential threat to all of us and must be treated as such. The upcoming EU elections are the first opportunity to hit the brakes and avoid the inevitable crash that is now clearly looming right in front of us down the road.

On EU nature laws
Barbara Herrero Cangas, EU Nature Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia:
“The EU has tools in place that protect nature, and the strongest nature protection laws in the world. But politicians choose not to use them because of vested interests. We need to elect political leaders that are ready to put money behind a system that does not destroy nature.”

On agriculture
Harriet Bradley, EU Agriculture Officer, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia:
“This is a food systems emergency. Agriculture is the main driver of biodiversity loss, and the damage that it is doing means that we are now facing the collapse of our ability to produce food if we do not urgently bring our production and consumption systems within planetary boundaries. Today’s report also highlights the damage that perverse subsidies create. There is no longer any excuse for continuing the current way that the EU’s farm subsidies are spent. We need instead to use the current CAP reform to lead the way in sustainable agriculture, not succumb yet again to the vested interests of the industrial farming lobbies.”

On climate change:
Luke Edwards, Climate Change and Land Use Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia:
“The report makes it crucially clear that climate change will exacerbate and interact will all drivers of an already bleak outlook for nature. An urgent rethink in the approach to land use and energy, with climate change as the organising principal, is necessary to save ecosystems and ensure future food security. Sadly, the world cannot follow Europe’s choice to stand behind rows of monoculture bioenergy plantations which, as the report demonstrates, directly compete with natural forests, conservation land and subsistence farming, further exacerbating negative impacts to biodiversity, climate and those peoples most vulnerable to climate change impacts.”

On marine environment:
Bruna Campos, EU Marine and Fisheries Policy Officer:
“The EU has driven a blue growth agenda at the cost of our marine environment. Governments need to stop twiddling their thumbs and fix the problem and apply effective management: fishing moratoriums, no-go zones for all human activities, banning single use plastic. We need to give nature a chance or it is the end for all of us.”


For more information, please contact:

Honey Kohan, Media Officer, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia
+32 483 559 543

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of Policy, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia
+32 486 630 042

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.