in a rye field
Poppy flowers in a rye field © Gideon Brosius /TNC Photo Contest 2019

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Launch of European Union's new Biodiversity Strategy

The Nature Conservancy’s Marianne Kleiberg comments on adoption of landmark EU strategy

Earlier today, the European Union released its EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 – a plan to tackle the accelerating collapse of nature both within Members States’ territories, and in those countries from which it imports key commodities.

Commenting on the launch, Marianne Kleiberg – Regional Managing Director for Europe at The Nature Conservancy – said:

“The Nature Conservancy applauds the EU for making this bold commitment to conservation, even amidst the global pandemic crisis, as well as its stated intention to take a leadership role at the crucial upcoming UN Biodiversity Conference COP15, which aims to broker a new, 10-year framework for nature to replace the previous Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

"The EU’s stated commitment to making all investments biodiversity-friendly, which we assume applies to both domestic expenditures and overseas development aid, is particularly noteworthy. The world needs leadership on conservation, and we acknowledge the prominent role that the EU is playing.

"To date, global efforts to tackle the biodiversity crisis under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have been insufficient in halting the catastrophic loss of our planet’s ecosystems and species. Even within the EU, protection for nature has been incomplete; restoration efforts small-scale; and the implementation and enforcement of legislation insufficient. The Nature Conservancy hopes that the new EU Biodiversity Strategy, which is now awaiting ratification by Member States, will accelerate the reversal of this worrying trend.

"We appreciate the references made by the EU’s proposals to the CBD process, as well as the acknowledgement of the Bloc’s global ecological footprint. We hope that the Strategy will be rolled-out efficiently, and that Member States will take the responsibility for its implementation.

"In conclusion, The Nature Conservancy welcomes the new EU Biodiversity Strategy for bringing together strong protection and restoration ambitions. Above all, we again applaud the EU for publishing this bold statement of intent on the biodiversity crisis, and call on the Bloc to use its global influence to encourage similarly far-reaching commitments from other key economies worldwide in the lead-up to 2021’s rescheduled UN Biodiversity Conference COP15.”

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Further Analysis 

Protected areas/Convention on Biological Diversity

  • Halting biodiversity loss within both land and ocean ecosystems is essential to sustain the natural systems providing protection, food, and livelihoods that our societies and economies rely on. The EU Nature Restoration Plan will be an important contributor towards achieving 30 percent of ocean, land and water to be managed as ‘intact and fully-functional natural ecosystems by 2030’.
  • When considering the 30% target by 2030, TNC notes that private lands should be considered in addition to the existing system of protected areas and within a robust legal and economic system.
  •  The Nature Conservancy urges Member States to close the current conservation finance gap and enable the EU to reprioritise various budget lines such as agriculture, regional development to free-up more funding resources for biodiversity.
  •  On protection and land use, TNC is unclear what is meant by ‘strictly protect’ and recommends that this is clarified. The commitment to the restoration of – ideally as a minimum 25.000 Km – rivers to be ecologically connected is itself very welcome. However, we hope that when restoring rivers, Member States will focus on the most ecologically critical rivers with recovery potential of biodiversity.

High Seas

  • The ocean, as we’re all learning quickly, isn’t too big to fail. The Nature Conservancy is calling for an ambitious and comprehensive global high seas agreement to be brokered in 2020. We are encouraged to see the EU supporting a robust and legally-binding international agreement, to be ratified and implemented as quickly as possible.

Illegal fishing

  •  Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing takes a devastating toll on marine ecosystems, food security and the livelihoods of legal fishers. As the largest trader of fishery and aquaculture products in the world, the EU has invested significant effort into addressing key challenges in regional and global ocean governance.
  •  The Nature Conservancy supports the EU’s continued leadership in applying zero tolerance towards IUU fishing. Combatting overfishing, including through a global ban on harmful fisheries subsidies, is at the core of these efforts.

Agriculture/Deforestation

  • We applaud the EU’s plan to explore the more stringent regulation of deforestation impacts embedded within imports of agricultural commodities and consumer goods.
  • In addition, we would like to see a specific commitment addressing the impacts from agriculture.
  • Responding to the current crisis will require vast outlays by government, to underpin health and welfare systems, to support banks and businesses and stimulate recovery, as well as build greater resilience in the face of future shocks. Reforming subsidies to support smallholders and produce better environmental outcomes will be needed. 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.