Pollution, deforestation and desertification are just a few of the threats facing some of the world’s poorest populations. Ravaged environments undermine a country’s food production, public health and resilience to natural disasters, and threaten economic development, safety and the rule of law. Healthy and well-managed ecosystems, on the other hand, provide the conditions for green growth and jobs, and a better quality of life.

EU support for development is thus anchored in the need to protect and conserve environments and ecosystems for the wellbeing of all people. Its work in this area is guided by its commitment to global environment and climate change agreements, and EU internal policies.

The European Commission’s directorate-general for International Development and Cooperation provides support and financing for developing countries to increase their capacity to protect and manage natural resources.  This includes working with governments, public and private sector, and civil society organisations to combat illegal logging; manage and secure protected areas that are home to endangered wildlife such as gorillas, rhinos and elephants; remedy and clean up polluted sites, and build local skills to develop a sustainable green economy, among many other areas.

EU support for the environment - including climate change, sustainable energy and water - represented 5.7 % (2.71 billion) of total funding for development managed by DG International Cooperation and Development (49.67 billion) in the period 2007-13.

The main beneficiaries were countries in the African, Caribbean and Pacific regions, receiving 45% of all funds. These were followed by countries neighbouring the EU (9% for ENP East and 6% for ENP South), Asia (11%), Latin America (7%) and Central Asia (1%). The remaining 21% of funds were directed at all countries.