New 2020 biodiversity strategy
Just months after the world agreed an ambitious global agenda in Nagoya to stem biodiversity loss, the European Union is finalising its own detailed strategy for the coming decade. This builds on the progress made and lessons learnt from the previous EU biodiversity action plan. It is one of the seven specific initiatives that underpin the current drive for a resource-efficient Europe.
The new strategy is designed to achieve the
Union’s headline target of halting the loss
of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, restoring
them as far as feasible and increasing Europe’s
contribution towards averting biodiversity
The previous action plan, launched in 2006,
was wide-ranging and contained some
160 individual measures. Its successor, the
2020 strategy, takes a different approach
and focuses on a handful of key priority
areas which are critical for the future health
of our biodiversity. It gives increased attention to ecosystem services, reflecting their
importance to the economy and our individual and collective well-being.
The strategy is based on six targets. Each
is accompanied by specific actions and
Nature Conservation: to ensure that all EU legislation is fully implemented. This includes completing the establishment phases of Natura 2000;
developing a biogeographical regional level
process to help set priorities for site conservation and restoration; and devising training programmes on Natura 2000 for judges and public
Ecosystems and their services: to maintain and
restore them and the services they provide.
Ecosystem services in the EU are currently
being mapped. Their economic value will be
assessed in 2012 and the Commission would
like the results to be integrated into national
accounting systems. By 2013, priorities will
be established for restoring ecosystems at
local, national and EU level. Biodiversity
proofing will also be integrated into relevant
EU policies and measures. Later this year, the
Commission will develop a specific green
Agriculture and forestry: to ensure that these
sectors contribute to maintaining and
enhancing biodiversity by further greening
the common agricultural policy as it undergoes its latest reform. Incentives should also
be provided for forestry owners to apply
Sustainable Forest Management measures.
Fisheries: to end the overexploitation of fisheries resources and ensure their sustainable
use. The common fisheries policy is being
reformed. Efforts will be made to improve
the management of fish stocks and restore
them to levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield while ensuring that
fishing activities have no adverse impact on
the marine environment.
Invasive alien species: to combat their introduction and spread, including measures to
manage their pathways. Invasive alien species are on the increase in the Union and
cause significant damage to native species.
Currently, up to EUR 12.5 billion is spent
each year tackling the problem. The Commission will adopt a specific strategy in 2012
to address this threat.
Global action: to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity around the world.
The Union will continue to reduce its own
ecological footprint; support international
efforts to mobilise more resources for biodiversity conservation; and meet all its Nagoya
Conditions for success
Although the EU failed to meet its target of
halting biodiversity loss by 2010, the previous biodiversity action plan did bring about
some successes and raised overall awareness of the importance of biodiversity.
The new strategy will benefit from a number
of features that will boost its chances of success. The first is the EU 2010 biodiversity
baseline showing the state of biodiversity.
This will serve as a benchmark for assessing
progress towards the 2020 headline target.
Second, the strategy is being finalised just
as reforms are being considered for policy
areas that impact directly on biodiversity –
agriculture, fisheries, transport and regional
and social programmes – along with the
Union’s overall multiannual expenditure
plans after 2013. This will ensure that biodiversity is taken fully into account at the
start of the new policy cycles.
The Commission will work with Member
States to better streamline biodiversity monitoring, reporting and review requirements
at national, EU and global levels under
a common framework to reduce administrative burdens on the authorities concerned
without compromising the clarity of the picture that emerges.
The strategy will undergo a mid-term review
in 2014. This will be an opportunity to examine all the drivers of biodiversity loss, including climate change and pollution which are
deliberately not included in the six sub targets. Policies are already well established for
both. Once fully implemented, they should
bring additional benefits for biodiversity.
The review will be an opportunity to measure progress against the biodiversity baseline. This will be updated periodically to take
account of recent information, drawing on
a wide variety of sources.