European citizens speak up: Nearly 1 million signatures and messages in support of the Nature Restoration Law!

Posted on July, 10 2023

This Wednesday, on 12 July, Members of the European Parliament will cast their decisive vote on the Nature Restoration Law. It’s the last chance for the European Parliament to turn back from a dangerous path of ignoring science and disregarding the frightening rate of nature loss in Europe.
The proposed law is the EU’s response to addressing the devastating impacts of climate change and biodiversity decline, and a key component of the von der Leyen Commission’s European Green Deal. Failing to adopt it would bring tragic consequences to our depleted ecosystems, Europe’s resilience to climate change, and our economy and livelihoods as we rely on countless benefits nature provides daily. 

The Nature Restoration Law is also crucial to achieve the global biodiversity targets that the EU agreed to in Montreal last year. Failing to secure effective restoration measures domestically will irreparably damage the EU’s reputation as a global leader in biodiversity policy. 

We call on MEPs to bring the debate back to science and truly represent EU citizens in the upcoming vote.

Close to 1 million signatures and messages for the Nature Restoration Law

The #RestoreNature campaign, supported by environmental NGOs, as well as Avaaz and WeMove, has garnered nearly 1 million messages and signatures of people urging EU decision-makers to adopt the law [1]. Since March, hundreds of thousands of citizens have been sending personal messages to their MEPs, calling on them to act in the face of biodiversity loss and climate breakdown. 

This impressive number completes a constantly growing list of stakeholders calling for the Nature Restoration Law [2]. 

Scientists once again debunk the fairytales of the opponents 

Ignorant of scientific evidence, Manfred Weber’s EPP group has continued its disinformation campaign on the proposed law. Over 6,000 scientists dispute their false claims, but the group is deaf to their pleas and going to great lengths to further polarise the debate around the law. 

Weber´s EPP and the anti-nature lobbies claim to defend the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors. However, these are precisely the sectors that stand to lose massively from destroyed ecosystems and shortages of natural resources. Contrary to the claims of incredibly influential lobbies like umbrella farm lobby COPA-COGECA, these sectors are not homogenous and account for only a small percentage of the EU’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) [3].

Faith leaders call on MEPs to support Nature Restoration Law

In a collective call published today, leaders from diverse faiths and spiritualities have united to urge MEPs to vote in favour of the EU’s Nature Restoration Law, calling on MEPs “to demonstrate unity, courage and cooperation in supporting the Nature Restoration Law”

In their joint appeal, the leaders say “As stewards of the natural environment, we have a calling to protect it for future generations, and a moral obligation to assist in the planet's restoration. We must envision a sustainable future for all of humanity, and this moment demands transformative action. [...] The upcoming vote on the Nature Restoration Law represents an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to this shared responsibility,” calling it “a crucial step towards safeguarding our shared home and the myriad lifeforms it sustains.”

What will happen with the Nature Restoration Law?

We strongly believe it’s possible to get a majority in favour of this much-needed law. The European Parliament would be truly failing its citizens if they rejected the first EU-wide law to bring nature back to our continent and gave in to the disinformation campaign instead. It is however difficult to predict the outcome of Wednesday’s vote which hints that it could be similarly tight to the previous ones. 

The #RestoreNature coalition, consisting of WWF EU, BirdLife Europe, ClientEarth and EEB, says: “We have come a long way during these four years of advocating for a Nature Restoration Law but we would have never imagined that a debate on something as positive as bringing nature back to Europe would become so misused and politicised. However, these appalling attacks have only sparked massive mobilisation and support for nature restoration and we will continue to fight for Europe’s nature for as long as it takes. Now, all eyes are on the European Parliament where every vote will count. We call on all MEPs to take responsibility and vote for, not against nature!

Josef Settele, IPBES lead author, former IPCC lead author, co-author of scientists' letter on NRL and SUR, says: “We worked so hard, as a scientific community, throughout the last decade to bring across the facts and figures. We explained how human well-being is connected to solving the climate and biodiversity crises. If the Nature Restoration Law is not adopted, it puts in doubt how much decision-makers need and value scientific evidence. As scientists, we don’t make decisions but we provide background information. What more can scientists do if all our evidence and work are not taken seriously?”

Jan Plagge, President of IFOAM Organics Europe and Bioland e.V., says: "There is this false narrative that nature restoration would threaten food security and make the work of farmers more difficult. It's just a lie to say that restoring nature and creating an ecological intensive use of land for a sustainable model of farming is a contraction. We are convinced that the opposite is the case! Such diverse landscapes are much more stable and resilient, storing water and retaining soil fertility - and at the same time also intensive, producing the food we need."

Notes to editors

[1] The current number of message and signatures is 988,222 (as of 10 July)

[2] The Nature Restoration Law has received support from EU Member States, wind energy and solar industry, scientists, the progressive farming community, European hunters, financial institutions, European mayors, an increasing number of companies and business associations and European youth. More than 988,000 signatures and messages for an ambitious Nature Restoration Law have been collected through various campaigns, which were launched by the #RestoreNature coalition (incl. Avaaz), WeMove, etc.

[3] The contribution to the EU's GDP of the agricultural sector - 1.4%, forestry - approximately 1%. 
Since March, hundreds of thousands of citizens have been sending personal messages to their MEPs, calling on them to act in the face of biodiversity loss and climate breakdown.
© WWF European Policy Office