WWF EU 2023 Annual Review

Posted on February, 06 2024

It is our pleasure to share with you the WWF European Policy Office’s Annual Review for 2023.
2023 was a difficult year, with the effects of accelerating climate change ever more visible in Europe, the ongoing wars in the Ukraine and in the Middle East, a cost of living crisis driven by our fossil fuel dependency, and populism and extremism are on the rise. In addition, we got first glimpses of shifting narratives based on fear: of wolves, of reducing consumption, of NGOs, of any form of change -  giving the illusion that we can find simple answers to the complex multi crises we’re living in.  

The first target of new attacks on the European Green Deal was the EU Nature Restoration Law, subjected to disinformation campaigns, fake news about driving food insecurity in Europe, or tearing down villages and making Santa Claus homeless. While the law survived, other initiatives, such as the promised EU Food Systems Law, did not. Such populist and misleading tactics have hardly ever been seen before in the EU bubble, and they gave us a first taste of what we may have to expect as parties are moving into full-blown elections campaign mode in 2024.

But rather than discourage us, this opposition only strengthened our determination to push EU decision makers to accelerate the green transition, to fill implementation and funding gaps and to keep delivering on the European Green Deal.   

Our annual report reminds us of some key successes in 2023. WWF and its NGO partners played a key role in keeping alive the vision of a first EU Nature Restoration Law. The new Renewable Energy Directive was adopted, increasing the EU’s 2030 target for renewables. Attempts to legalise destruction of Spain’s Doñana national park were abandoned after years of campaigning. A revised EU regulation to monitor fishing activities was finally agreed, positively reflecting WWF’s priorities. The EU’s first ever deforestation law - a key success of our 2022 campaign - entered into force. Also, in an unprecedented move, we took the European Commission to court over labeling nuclear and gas as ‘green’ under the EU taxonomy.
Bog surrounding river in morning light,Estonia.
© naturepl.com / Sven Zacek / WWF