EU Commission plans green reset for nature, food and farming

Posted on May, 20 2020

Today, the European Commission took steps towards sustainable biodiversity, food and farming policies, publishing roadmaps for the next 10 years. In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has brought our relationship with the natural world into sharp focus, the strategies have never been more timely.

The EU Farm to Fork and 2030 Biodiversity Strategies launched today are potential game changers for EU nature, food and farming policies. The strategies propose a new wave of essential and long overdue targets on topics such as protected areas, restoration of nature, organic farming and the reduction of agricultural chemicals.

The commitment by the European Commission to present binding EU nature restoration targets in 2021 is one of the main achievements of the Biodiversity Strategy, as the voluntary restoration target in the current strategy clearly did not deliver. Restoring natural ecosystems on land and at sea will not only contribute to solving the biodiversity crisis, but is also critical to climate change mitigation and adaptation. WWF, along with other NGOs, were strongly advocating for such a target

"The European Commission has shown it is ready to learn from the health crisis, proposing actions which can change our toxic relationship with nature to a healthy one,” said Ester Asin, Director at WWF European Policy Office. "This forward-looking attitude must be strengthened further in the recovery package next week. We call for 50% of the package to be dedicated climate & environment spending to build back stronger, more resilient economies and societies."

WWF also welcomes the announcement of new EU legislation for a sustainable food system for 2023 in the Farm to Fork Strategy, an initiative to be praised for its long-term vision and its potential to reinforce sustainability in all of the EU’s food-related policies. This is further reinforced by the targets proposed on organic farming, landscape features and on pesticides, fertilizers and antibiotics that give a clear orientation that agriculture must transition towards nature-friendly farming and away from its high dependence on agricultural chemicals.

Crucially, the strategy contains a new requirement for Member States to set comparable targets when drafting Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) strategic plans. This will ensure the consistency of the strategy's overall targets with farming policy. WWF calls on co-legislators to enshrine this new requirement in the CAP regulations currently under discussion. 

Unfortunately, the Farm to Fork Strategy fails to tackle intensive production and excessive consumption of meat and dairy products, one of the most glaring omissions. Actions to significantly change consumer behaviour and support more extensive animal farming are also insufficient and lack any concrete targets. WWF, along with other NGOs, and MEPs had been calling for much higher ambition on this.

WWF does however welcome the proposal for a new law in 2021 to prevent products linked to global deforestation being placed on the EU market, an action that should be extended to cover other ecosystems such as savannahs and grasslands. 

The Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies show clear commitments to tackle key drivers of biodiversity loss. However, WWF is deeply concerned that the European Commission has not taken this opportunity to safeguard its water laws. By failing to exclude a revision of the Water Framework Directive, despite its own evaluation saying it is fit for purpose, it has left Europe's water policy in limbo. 

“The Commission has shown leadership today. The upcoming discussions in the European Council and Parliament will show whether Europe is serious about a real European Green Deal that puts our planet on the path to recovery!” said Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources for WWF European Policy Office.


For further information, here is a brief overview of the main points WWF was looking out for and here is a preliminary analysis of the 2030 EU Biodiversity Strategy
Sabien Leemans
Senior Policy Officer, Biodiversity
WWF European Policy Office
+32 486 80 04 37

Jabier Ruiz
Senior Policy Officer, Agriculture & Food
WWF European Policy Office
+32 47 66 81 91

Edel Shanahan 
Communications Officer, Biodiversity & Agriculture
WWF European Policy Office
 +32 484 49 35 15
Pozza di Fassa, Italy
© Simon Rae / Unsplash
The Farm to Fork must establish sustainable farming along with the CAP
© seppo leinonen