EU Commission’s Eureka Moment – Natural Environment has a Multibillion Euro Benefit

Posted on 06 May 2013    
River banks and marsh land play an important role in reducing water polution
© B. Loetsch

(Brussels, 6 May 2013) - The WWF European Policy Office (EPO) gave a cautious welcome to today’s Communication from the European Commission on integrating the natural environment (known as Green Infrastructures) into the framework of its 2020 Biodiversity Strategy.  Policy makers will have to give extra importance to features such as stone beaches that protect against coastal erosion, river banks and marsh areas which reduce water pollution and soak up floodwaters and creating ecological focus areas that support pollinating species and benefit crops.

Some of the most prominent European natural infrastructures areas are in the Natura 2000 Network of protected sites. Collectively they can generate up to €300 billion in benefits. This is of enormous value given the low annual investment of only €5.8 billion needed to keep them functioning.  A recent report has stated that 14.6 million jobs across Europe are dependent on ecosystem services which in turn rely on green infrastructures.
On the use of Green Infrastructure, Alberto Arroyo Schnell, Senior Policy Advisor – Biodiversity, WWF European Policy Office 
“This communication is long overdue. We cannot afford to keep pumping money into traditional engineering infrastructures when in many cases nature provides a more cost effective and lasting solution. But, the Commission must make sure that this is not only talk - there must be sufficient investment available to make green infrastructures work.
“For a start, the EU Natura 2000 natural areas should be integrated into the current reform of the Common Agricultural and Cohesion policies.  Otherwise today’s words will remain empty rhetoric.”
On Green infrastructure and the EU Agricultural Policy Sébastian Godinot, Head of EU Budgets Campaign, WWF European Policy Office
“The European Commission needs to ensure that the next CAP deal starting in 2014 does not jeopardise the environmental assets that benefit all of society.  We are all looking to Commissioner Cioloş to defend the current proposal which will extend Ecological Focal Areas to 7% arable and permanent crop land. This is the minimum effective area needed to support wild flora and fauna which ultimately supports important pollinating species.”
For more examples of this Green Infrastructures please follow this link.
For further information:
Alberto Arroyo, Biodiversity Policy Advisor
WWF European Policy Office
Tel +36 70 6138269
Philippe Carr, Media & Communications 
WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 476 25 68 79
River banks and marsh land play an important role in reducing water polution
© B. Loetsch Enlarge