Biodiversity: A key to the European Union’s long-term resilience

22 May 2020

Today is International Day for Biological Diversity; the day has been marked since 1993. But the date commemorates the adoption of the text by the UN General Assembly. The day was established to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. The theme for 2020 is ‘Our solutions are in nature.’

22 May 2020

Muriel Cozier

The European Commission has adopted two environmentally focused strategies which it says puts the citizen at the centre. The strategies commit to increasing the protection of land and sea, restoring degraded ecosystems and establishing the EU as a leader on the international stage both on the protection of biodiversity and on building a sustainable food chain.

The Biodiversity Strategy will tackle the key drivers of biodiversity loss, such as the unsustainable use of land, over exploitation of natural resources, pollution and invasive species. The Commission says that the strategy is a central element of the EU’s COVID-19 recovery plan, crucial to preventing and building resilience to future outbreaks and providing immediate business and investment opportunities for restoring the EU’s economy. It also aims to make biodiversity an integral part of the EU’s overall economic growth strategy. Funding of Euro 20 billion per year will be released for biodiversity through various sources including EU funds, national and private funding.

The Farm to Fork Strategy, says the Commission, will enable the transition to a sustainable EU food system that safeguards food security and ensures access to healthy diets. The strategy will also seek to reduce the environmental and climate footprint of the EU’s food system and strengthen its resilience. Targets within the strategy include; a 50% reduction in the use of pesticides, a 50% reduction in sales of antimicrobials used for farmed animals and aquaculture, and turning over 25% of agricultural land to organic farming.

The two strategies, the Commission says, will support the EU’s economic recovery. Executive president of the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said: ‘The coronavirus crisis has shown how vulnerable we all are, and how important it is to restore the balance between human activity and nature. Climate change and biodiversity loss are a clear and present danger to humanity…These strategies are crucial part of the great transition we are embarking on.’

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