Written by Vivienne Halleux.
Based on Member States’ reporting under the Birds and Habitats Directives, the backbone of European Union (EU) nature conservation policy, the latest assessment on the state of nature by the European Environment Agency shows that despite some encouraging developments, the overall picture remains bleak. Only 15 % of habitats and around 27 % of species protected under EU legislation have a good conservation status. An EU-wide assessment of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems found that, overall, the condition of ecosystems in the EU is unfavourable. Worldwide, most indicators of ecosystems and biodiversity show rapid decline. Targets set to tackle biodiversity loss by 2020, at both EU and global levels under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), have not been met.
Under the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030, part of the European Green Deal, the EU has therefore set itself new targets for the next decade. These include enlarging the current network of legally protected areas to cover at least 30 % of the EU’s land area and 30 % of the EU’s seas; and setting legally binding EU nature restoration targets to restore degraded ecosystems. The recent zero-pollution action plan for air, water and soil proposes additional commitments relevant to biodiversity protection.
Parties to the CBD, including the EU, are due to meet on 11-24 October 2021 in China to agree on a post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The EU intends to push for global 2030 targets in line with the commitments set out in its biodiversity strategy and for a much stronger implementation, monitoring and review process. The issue of resource mobilisation will be an important one, especially in the context of the coronavirus crisis, affecting the funding available for biodiversity.
On 28 May 2021, Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety adopted an own-initiative report with recommendations to strengthen the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030. The vote in plenary is scheduled for the June I plenary session.
Read the complete briefing on ‘Biodiversity protection: Where do we stand?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.