Adopted by the European Commission in 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this strategy champions the need and urgency to reconnect with nature and biodiversity. Consolidating the objectives of the previous strategy, this version goes further by proposing ambitious actions and commitments to protect and restore biodiversity in Europe and worldwide.
This strategy, central to the European Green Deal, is additional to the "From Farm to Fork" strategy and aims to position Europe as a driving force in the fight against the global biodiversity crisis.
It develops 4 priorities for restoring biodiversity to its central role and demonstrates the economic benefits of a protected or restored ecosystem while setting out the potential risks of inaction.
Bringing biodiversity back into our lives
Biodiversity is essential to our societies, which is why the new strategy is about bringing it back into our lives. The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us of how much our humanity, culture and economy depend on its vitality. This unprecedented situation has prompted us to strengthen the resilience of our societies in the face of further risks of pandemics and threats related to the loss of ecosystems, mainly as a result of our human activities.
This strategy's fundamental ambition is to halt the loss of biodiversity throughout Europe by protecting, conserving and restoring it.
Furthermore, the EU intends to raise the level of international ambition and establish a new global framework with the aim of restoring, building resilience and protecting all ecosystems.
It does so by addressing the five main causes of biodiversity loss, establishing a strengthened governance framework and ensuring full implementation of EU legislation.
In a context of economic recovery and fiscal consolidation, the strategy emphasises the multiplier effects of investing in natural capital and its positive impact on climate change.
1. Creating a coherent network of protected areas
In 2020, the network of legally protected areas, including those under strict protection, is not sufficient to safeguard biodiversity. To ensure a healthy and resilient environment, at least 30% of the EU's land area (including primary and old-growth forests) and 30% of its marine area should be legally protected, with 10% of it under enhanced protection.
2. Restoring degraded land and marine ecosystems throughout Europe
Ecosystem restoration requires ambitious targets because protecting biodiversity in its current state will not be enough to bring it back to an acceptable situation.
The main restoration commitments for 2030 include the following:
- The development of legally binding targets for nature restoration in the EU.
- The expansion of organic farming and increased biodiversity on agricultural land.
- The restoration of at least 25,000 km of free-flowing rivers in the EU.
- Reversing the decline in pollinators.
- A 50% reduction in the use of pesticides and their toxicity.
- The planting of 3 billion trees, in full respect of ecological principles.
- Eliminating the use of chemical pesticides in sensitive areas such as EU urban green areas.
3. Enabling transformative change
The necessary political support and sufficient financial and human resources will need to be prioritised for this strategy. At least €20 billion a year should be released using a variety of sources, including EU funds and national and private financing.
In order to support the implementation of these ambitious but essential targets and given the positive role of biodiversity in climate mitigation and adaptation, the EU will allocate a significant part of its climate change spending to biodiversity and nature-based solutions.
4. Ensuring that the EU becomes a global leader in managing the global biodiversity crisis
Global efforts under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity have been insufficient. For this reason, the Commission wants to take the lead in pushing for the adoption of a new global framework for biodiversity under the auspices of the United Nations. Its ambition is to restore, protect and make all the world's ecosystems resilient by 2050. At the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2021 in China, the European Union's aim will be to integrate this ambitious objective into the new global framework under discussion.
In all its international cooperation activities, the EU intends to promote sustainable agricultural and fisheries practices, along with measures to protect and restore the world's forests and protect new marine areas in the Southern Ocean. It will also need to pay particular attention to sustainable water resource management, the restoration of degraded land, illegal wildlife trafficking (animal and plant) and the protection and restoration of areas rich in biodiversity with high ecosystem services.