A ray of hope for nature, gloomy on climate: Ministers endorse EU Biodiversity Strategy | WWF
A ray of hope for nature, gloomy on climate: Ministers endorse EU Biodiversity Strategy

Posted on 23 October 2020

In a positive move for biodiversity, EU Member States endorsed the objectives of the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy during today’s meeting of the Environment Council.
The decision comes hot on the heels of the European Environmental Agency’s (EEA) State of Nature report, from which it is painfully clear that the EU is not on track to curb biodiversity loss. Ambitious action - as outlined in the Biodiversity Strategy - is needed to bend the curve. 

Today’s endorsement is a much-needed beacon of hope after the Council and European Parliament shut their eyes to the biodiversity and climate crises and agreed an outdated position on the future of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) this week. 

“It has been a difficult week for nature after the Parliament and EU governments backed a deplorable CAP position that will lock our farming system into another seven years of business-as-usual if it passes the final vote today,” said Sabien Leemans, Senior Policy Officer for Biodiversity at WWF’s European Policy Office. “Today’s decision by the Member States to endorse the Biodiversity Strategy is a much-needed ray of hope. The commitments to strictly protect[1] at least 10% of the EU’s land and sea, including all our remaining primary and old-growth forests, and the legally binding nature restoration targets which will be proposed next year, can be game-changers for nature if they are rapidly implemented.”

Less positively, however, ministers failed to make real progress on the EU climate law, ignoring the European Parliament’s recent support for a 60% emissions reduction target for 2030. 

Alex Mason, Senior Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office said: 
“On climate, environment ministers sat on their hands. They didn’t bother discussing how to improve the Commission’s lacklustre climate law proposal, and they ignored the Parliament’s call for a 60% target and crucial improvements like an independent scientific body. Let’s hope the Council takes the issues more seriously when it comes to the negotiations with the Parliament.” 

Dr Antonia Leroy, Head of Ocean Policy at WWF European Policy Office said: 
“The ocean is a key ally for both nature recovery and climate action, but its capacity to absorb our emissions is exhausted and its resilience to our destructive activities is on the brink. While the support from Member States to protect 30% of our ocean with strict protection for 10% is a real breakthrough, their sluggishness on the climate law means a sustainable blue economy remains at risk.”

The EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy has the potential to trigger the transformative change desperately needed to bend the curve of biodiversity loss. With the Strategy endorsed by Member States, the focus must now be directed to its implementation. Until now, effective implementation for nature conservation, restoration and recovery targets has been critically lacking, leaving many protected areas as little more than lines drawn on a map. The following must now be key priorities for Member States: 
  • Make nature restoration for both climate and biodiversity a priority over the coming 10 years, by supporting and implementing legally binding targets to restore at least 15% of the EU’s land and sea.
  • Fully endorse and implement the target to protect at least 30% of land and sea and to strictly protect at least 10% of land and sea, including the protection of the remaining old-growth and primary forests.
  • Improve the management effectiveness and actual protection level of all existing and new protected areas 
  • Ensure that the Biodiversity Strategy and its targets are mainstreamed across all policy areas in their national context. 
On the climate law, WWF is calling for a target of at least 65% emissions reductions, policies inconsistent with climate targets to be scrapped, an independent scientific body to scrutinise proposals and a roadmap to climate neutrality by 2040, amongst other points.

ENDS

[1] The Biodiversity Strategy commits to legally protect at least 30% of the EU’s land and sea area by 2030, with at least one third of those protected areas (at least 10% of the EU’s land and sea), being granted special care in the form of strict protection. Strict protection does not necessarily mean the area is not accessible to humans, but leaves natural processes essentially undisturbed to respect the areas’ ecological requirements. 

Contact:

Edel Shanahan (agriculture, biodiversity)
Communications Officer
eshanahan@wwf.eu
+32 484 49 35 15

Larissa Milo Dale (marine)
Senior Communications Officer
lmilodale@wwf.eu 
+32 483 26 20 86

Sarah Azau (climate)
Media Manager
sazau@wwf.eu
+32 473 573 137
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