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Procedure : 2020/2274(INI)
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Document selected : A9-0258/2021

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PV 04/10/2021 - 12
CRE 04/10/2021 - 12

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PV 05/10/2021 - 9
PV 06/10/2021 - 2

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Texts adopted
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Wednesday, 6 October 2021 - Strasbourg
The role of development policy in the response to biodiversity loss in developing countries, in the context of the achievement of the 2030 Agenda

European Parliament resolution of 6 October 2021 on the role of development policy in the response to biodiversity loss in developing countries, in the context of the achievement of the 2030 Agenda (2020/2274(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the International Union for Conservation of Nature,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) of 1992, and the upcoming 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties thereto (COP15),

–  having regard to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture,

–  having regard to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of 2007,

–  having regard to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas of 2018,

–  having regard to the special report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on climate change and land of 2019,

–  having regard to the IPCC special report on the ocean and cryosphere in a changing climate of 2019,

–  having regard to the global assessment report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) on biodiversity and ecosystem services of 2019,

–   having regard to the IPBES Workshop Report on Biodiversity and Pandemics of 29 October 2020,

–   having regard to the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, submitted to the UN General Assembly in 2016,

–  having regard to Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on indigenous and tribal peoples of 1989,

–   having regard to Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity of 15 September 2020,

–   having regard to the UN Summit on Biodiversity of 30 September 2020,

–   having regard to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),

–   having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,

–   having regard to the Cancun Statement on Promoting Sustainable Pastoralism and Livestock Production for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Grasslands and Rangelands of the CBD COP13 of 14 December 2016,

–   having regard to the report by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition, of July 2019, entitled ‘Agroecological and other innovative approaches for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhance food security and nutrition’,

–   having regard to the FAO report on the State of knowledge of soil biodiversity – Status, challenges and potentialities, published in 2020,

–   having regard to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS),

–  having regard to Front Line Defenders’ global analysis 2020,

–   having regard to the Streamlining European Biodiversity Indicators (SEBI) 2020, issued by the European Environment Agency,

–   having regard to the joint communication of the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 9 March 2020 entitled ‘Towards a comprehensive Strategy with Africa’ (JOIN(2020)0004),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 24 February 2021 entitled ‘Forging a climate-resilient Europe – the new EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change’ (COM(2021)0082),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 20 May 2020 entitled ‘A Farm to Fork Strategy – for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system’ (COM(2020)0381),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 25 May 2020 entitled ‘EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 – Bringing nature back into our lives’ (COM(2020)0380),

–  having regard to Commission recommendation 2013/396/EU of 11 June 2013 on common principles for injunctive and compensatory collective redress mechanisms in the Member States concerning violations of rights granted under Union Law(1),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 23 July 2019 on stepping up EU action to protect and restore the world’s forests (COM(2019)0352) and to the subsequent Council conclusions,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 15 May 2017 on indigenous peoples,

–  having regard to the new European Consensus on Development of 2017,

–  having regard to the EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade Action Plan adopted in November 2003,

–   having regard to the in-depth analysis on Trade and Biodiversity, published by its Directorate-General for External Policies in June 2020(2),

–   having regard to the mid-term review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy(3),

–   having regard to the in-depth analysis entitled ‘The link between biodiversity loss and the increasing spread of zoonotic diseases’, published by its Directorate-General for Internal Policies in December 2020(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 3 July 2018 on violation of the rights of indigenous peoples in the world, including land grabbing(5),

–  having regard to the study entitled ‘Indigenous peoples, extractive industries and human rights’, published by its Directorate-General for External Policies in September 2014(6),

–  having regard to the in-depth analysis entitled ‘Challenges for environmental and indigenous peoples’ rights in the Amazon region’, published by its Directorate-General for External Policies in June 2020(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 October 2020 with recommendations to the Commission on an EU legal framework to halt and reverse EU-driven global deforestation(8),

–  having regard to the European Green Deal,

–  having regard to Rule 54 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Development (A9-0258/2021),

A.  whereas around 70 % of the world’s poor directly depend on biological diversity for their livelihoods;

B.  whereas the majority of biodiversity loss takes place in developing countries;

C.  whereas biodiversity continues to remain a critical source for the development of medicines;

D.  whereas the most comprehensive global estimate suggests that ecosystem services provide benefits of USD 125-140 trillion per year, i.e. more than one-and-a-half times the size of global GDP(9);

E.  whereas biodiversity is both affected by climate change and makes an important contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation through the ecosystems services it supports;

F.  whereas biodiversity and ecosystem services are projected to decline over the coming decades, while the supply of and demand for materials derived from natural resources with current market value (food, feed, timber and bioenergy) are projected to increase;

G.  whereas key pressures on terrestrial, marine and other aquatic biodiversity include habitat loss and fragmentation (particularly from agricultural expansion and intensification), over-exploitation of natural resources (e.g. fish), pollution, invasive alien species and climate change;

H.  whereas according to the IPBES 2019 global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services, most of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets for 2020 have been missed;

I.  whereas the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2020 identified environmental risks as the greatest systemic risks to our global economy;

J.  whereas the OECD estimates at USD 500 billion per year the financial flows potentially harmful to biodiversity (based on fossil fuel and agricultural subsidies), an order of magnitude ten times higher than global finance flows for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, and whereas the costs of inaction on biodiversity loss are high and are anticipated to increase(10);

K.  whereas IPBES reports that land use change, agricultural expansion and urbanisation are responsible for more than 30 % of emerging disease events;

L.  whereas recent studies show that between 1.65 and 1,87 billion indigenous peoples, local communities, and Afro-descendants live in the world’s important biodiversity conservation areas; whereas another finding shows that 56 % of the people living in important biodiversity conservation areas are in low-income and low-middle income countries; whereas only 9 % live in high-income countries; whereas this underscores the disproportionate impact of conservation on the Global South, according to the Rights and Resources Initiative;

M.  whereas there is scientific evidence of a complex link between biodiversity loss and the increasing risk of zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19;

N.  whereas indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLC) are heavily reliant on land, natural resources and ecosystems for their basic needs and livelihoods, taking into account the fact that their low standard of living and exclusion from political and economic life may imply crucial conflicts concerning the use of natural resources and land rights;

O.  whereas traditional indigenous territories encompass around 22 % of the world’s land surface and coincide with areas that hold 80 % of the planet’s biodiversity;

P.  whereas protected areas have the potential to safeguard biodiversity for the benefit of all humanity, but have also been associated, in some cases, with large-scale human rights violations against IPLC;

Q.  whereas indigenous people remain among the poorest of the poor, and whereas one of the major difficulties that indigenous peoples face globally is in obtaining legal recognition of collective ownership over their ancestral lands, especially when these were declared protected territories;

R.  whereas it is estimated that 50 % of protected areas worldwide have been established on lands traditionally occupied and used by indigenous peoples, and that this proportion is highest in the Americas, where it may exceed 90 % in Central America;

S.  whereas the lack of recognition of indigenous peoples’ and communities’ customary land rights generates risks of land grabbing, thereby jeopardising their livelihoods and their ability to respond to climate change or biodiversity loss;

T.  whereas the UN Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples has identified the extractive industries as a main source of conflict and violence on indigenous peoples’ territories;

U.  whereas according to Front Line Defenders’ Global Analysis 2020, at least 331 human rights defenders were murdered in 2020, of whom 69 % were environmental defenders and 26 % worked specifically on indigenous populations’ rights;

V.  whereas the EU aims to push for a target of at least 30 % biodiversity protection under the CBD;

W.  whereas a growing body of research shows that IPLC possess crucial knowledge and play a vital role in the sustainable management of natural resources and the conservation of biodiversity, as well as in improving rural livelihoods and enhancing the resilience of local populations and communities; whereas global biodiversity targets cannot be achieved without recognition of and respect for the rights of IPLC;

X.  whereas the EU has put forward strong ecological commitments and targets with the European Green Deal, but the total ecological footprint of the EU remains high, which has negative consequences for the environment in developing countries; whereas the EU Biodiversity Strategy aims to achieve a situation in which all of the world’s ecosystems have been restored, resilient and adequately protected by 2050, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and expresses commitment to the objective of ending human-induced extinction of species by 2050, guided by intergenerational responsibility and the principle of equality, including respect for the rights, and the full and effective participation of IPLC; whereas the strategy of the EU and its Member States in support of developing countries should be designed to anticipate the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss;

Y.  whereas biodiversity is crucial for food security, human well-being and development worldwide; whereas the benefits that humans derive from ecosystems include, among other things, the purification of water and air, pest and disease control, crop pollination, soil fertility, genetic diversity, fresh water provisioning, flood protection, carbon sequestration and resilience to climate change; whereas forests harbour more than 75 % of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and more than 25 % of the world’s population rely on forest resources for their livelihoods; whereas the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted areas of inequality across agri-food systems and the necessity of adapting and improving smallholder production sustainably in developing countries, of transforming agri-food systems and of reorienting agriculture towards climate sustainability;

Z.  whereas the IPCC special report on climate change and land of 8 August 2019 demonstrates that indigenous peoples have a long record of adapting to climate variability, drawing on their traditional knowledge, which enhances their resilience;

AA.  whereas the IPCC special report on the ocean and cryosphere in a changing climate of 24 September 2019 equally gives evidence of the benefits of combining scientific with local and indigenous knowledge to ensure resilience;

AB.  whereas Article 8(j) of the CBD commits States parties to respect and maintain the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities, which are relevant for conservation and the sustainable use of biological diversity; whereas the CBD, however, fails to contain explicit recognition of the human rights of indigenous peoples;

AC.  whereas the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that about 75 % of genetic diversity in plants has been lost worldwide, while 75 % of the world’s food is now generated from only 12 plants and five animal species, which poses a serious risk to global food security;

AD.  whereas the loss of genetic diversity, especially the replacement of local, well-adapted breeds, increases vulnerability to pests, diseases and environmental changes, including climate change; whereas the market globalisation of agriculture has been a reinforcing driver of such agricultural biodiversity erosion, which means less capacity to innovate and adapt to climate change;

AE.  whereas it is estimated that globally, 30 % of threats to species are due to international trade;

AF.  whereas illegal wildlife trade and illegal trade in timber and raw materials can accelerate the degradation and destruction of biodiversity in countries with weak institutions and environmental regulations;

AG.  whereas oceans are huge reservoirs of biodiversity and the primary regulator of the global climate; whereas their conservation is critical to sustainable development and to poverty eradication, providing sustainable livelihoods and food security for billions of people; whereas the pollution of marine ecosystems with plastics is both a global and a local problem with potentially severe consequences for wildlife, economic activities and human health in developing countries; whereas the scale of this pollution has been greatly underestimated and knowledge gaps persist, in particular of impacts on coastal lands and communities; whereas according to the recent UN Environment Programme report ‘Neglected: Environmental Justice Impacts of Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution’, such litter and pollution disproportionally impact vulnerable people, threaten the full and effective enjoyment of human rights and pose substantial obstacles to the achievement of the SDGs;

AH.  whereas the EU Biodiversity Strategy is committed to a fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources linked to biodiversity and to fostering an enabling framework, making use of research, innovation and technology tools;

AI.  whereas environmental crimes, whose value has been estimated by the UN Environment Programme and Interpol to be up to twice the global aid budget, accelerates biodiversity loss and climate change, notably through forestry crimes;

AJ.  whereas there are overlaps between biodiversity hotspots and areas suffering from poverty, as most conservation hotspots are located in countries with a high prevalence of poverty and food insecurity;

AK.  whereas the Republic of Maldives called, in its statement of 3 December 2019, for the amendment of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in order to recognise criminal acts that would amount to ecocide;

AL.  whereas IPBES reports that the international legal wildlife trade has increased 500 % in value since 2005, and 2 000 % since the 1980s(11);

AM.  whereas the EU is one of the largest importers of wildlife and wildlife-related products globally;

AN.  whereas global wildlife trafficking is one of the most profitable forms of organised cross-border criminal activity;

AO.  whereas in a business as usual scenario, climate change is expected to reduce fish biomass by 30 to 40 % in some tropical regions by 2100 and has a strong impact on marine biodiversity; whereas countries in these zones are highly dependent on fisheries, but lack social and financial resources to adapt and prepare for the future;

AP.  whereas the International Union for the Conservation of Nature advocates the transformation of at least 30 % of all marine habitats by 2020 into a network of highly protected marine protected areas;

AQ.  whereas illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing threatens the sustainability of global marine resources by contributing to their overexploitation;

1.  Is alarmed by the fact that the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services is undermining progress in approximately 80 % of the assessed targets for the SDGs; calls for the EU to continue its efforts to reduce its biodiversity footprint worldwide and to bring it into line with planetary boundaries;

2.  Points out that nearly half of the human population is directly dependent on natural resources for their livelihood, and many of the most vulnerable and poorest people depend directly on biodiversity to fulfil their daily subsistence needs; stresses, therefore, that the loss of biodiversity risks accentuating inequality and the marginalisation of the most vulnerable people, by decreasing their access to a healthy life and by reducing their freedom of choice and actions; recalls that biodiversity is threatened by climate change, which aggravates the vulnerability of these people and undermines their fundamental rights and dignity; takes the view that developing countries must be supported to develop and implement effective climate mitigation and adaptation policies;

3.  Calls for the EU to comprehensively address the root causes of biodiversity loss and to mainstream obligations on conservation, the sustainable use of resources and the restoration of ecosystems into its external development cooperation policy and partnerships, in line with the principle of policy coherence for development in order to reduce the pressure on biodiversity worldwide;

4.  Recalls that sustainable development requires striking a good balance between the economic, social and environmental dimensions; recalls also that the conservation, sustainable use and restoration of biodiversity is vital to achieve many development policy objectives, including human health, climate change mitigation and adaptation, early warning, disaster risk reduction, water, food and nutrition security, rural development and job creation, sustainable use of forests, agriculture ecosystems and the creation or preservation of resilient food systems; recalls that the harmful effects of ecosystem degradation are being borne disproportionately by the poor, in particular women and young people, as well as by indigenous people and other natural resource-dependent communities;

5.  Highlights that the EU is also responsible for global biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity; stresses that EU biodiversity objectives and targets should build on sound scientific knowledge and be fully integrated into the EU’s external action, notably in the remit of partnership strategies and agreements, including fisheries agreements with developing countries; insists that preservation and restoration efforts in such countries, in particular at regional level, should be intensified;

6.  Recalls the responsibility of the EU and third developed countries for biodiversity loss at global level; calls for the EU to step up financial and technical support to developing countries across the world to achieve the new global targets, fight environmental crime and tackle the drivers of biodiversity loss;

7.  Emphasises the duty of states to protect and sustainably manage natural and biodiversity-rich ecosystems and safeguard the human and land rights of IPLC and Afro-descendants who depend on these ecosystems for their survival;

8.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to add recognition of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, to support the global recognition of this right as a human right and to support enshrining the comprehensive protection and defence of nature, biodiversity and ecosystems as a basis for life, recognising the interdependence and right of all people, including future generations, to nature, in particular by enforcing strict standards on transparency, public participation and access to justice in accordance with the Aarhus Convention and international law; in this context, and given that the most serious damage to ecosystems is done in developing countries, considers it necessary to combat all forms of environmental damage to ecosystems, including in all third countries the EU cooperates with, and in environments on which the world’s poor depend and to examine, where appropriate, the relevance of and interest in granting rights to nature;

9.  Is deeply concerned by the major gap in the data, indicators and finance needed to halt biodiversity loss, and inconsistencies in biodiversity finance reporting and tracking; recalls that establishing specific, measurable and quantitative targets and indicators for the post-2020 framework is essential to improving the ability to monitor progress;

10.  Welcomes the African initiative on the ‘Great Green Wall’ and calls on the Commission to support this project;

11.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to step up their efforts to better assess and value biodiversity and ecosystem services and to integrate these values into decision-making;

12.  Welcomes the fact that the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI)-Global Europe will contribute to the overall multiannual financial framework (MFF) biodiversity target; underlines that planning, scrutinising and monitoring of the NDICI-Global Europe are key to the pursuit of the EU’s global biodiversity goals; recalls that the NDICI-Global Europe should contribute to the ambition of providing 7,5 % of annual spending under the MFF to biodiversity objectives in the year 2024 and 10 % of annual spending under the MFF to biodiversity objectives from 2026 onwards; calls for the effective application of the ‘do no significant harm’ principle across EU spending and programmes; calls for the enhancement of the reporting and monitoring framework of EU external biodiversity policy, inter alia through detailed provisions on biodiversity objectives and indicators; calls, more broadly, for the EU and its Member States to promote research and innovation on biodiversity conservation and protection, and agro-ecological solutions for delivering key development benefits, thereby helping to implement the SDGs;

13.  Regrets the fact that the EU external budget for supporting biodiversity policy remains considerably low in comparison with that earmarked for climate change policies; calls for an effective increase in funds for biodiversity protection, in line with the MFF agreement, and for technical assistance for the development of further resource mobilisation tools in order to respond to global commitments on biodiversity; stresses the need to track, report and phase out environmentally harmful subsidies, and to channel them towards biodiversity-friendly activities, in line with Agenda 2030 and the relevant international Conventions and obligations; calls for a significant share of EU official development assistance dedicated to climate action to be directed towards supporting biodiversity conservation co-benefits in climate mitigation and adaptation;

14.  Calls for the EU to pass a mandatory due diligence law to make companies and their financiers directly responsible for ensuring that their imports are not tainted by human rights abuses, such as land grabs and environmental degradation (including deforestation and biodiversity loss); more broadly, calls for the EU to require business and financial institutions to scale up their commitment to biodiversity, for example through robust and mandatory provisions on impact assessment, risk management, disclosure and external reporting requirements; invites the OECD to develop a set of practical actions on due diligence and biodiversity to support efforts by business;

15.  Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to develop a legislative proposal on mandatory human rights and environmental corporate due diligence for companies throughout their supply chains; recommends that this legislative proposal should support and facilitate the development of common methodologies for measuring the environmental and climate change impacts; stresses the importance of effective, meaningful and informed consultation of all affected or potentially affected stakeholders, such as human rights and environmental defenders, civil society, trade unions and IPLC; regrets the serious shortcomings in the implementation of the UN ‘Protect, Respect, Remedy’ framework and the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights with regard to both indigenous peoples’ rights and land rights; calls once again for the EU to engage constructively in the work of the UN Human Rights Council on an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises, which should include specific standards for the protection of indigenous people;

16.  Reiterates its request that the Commission urgently present a proposal for an EU legal framework to halt and reverse EU-driven global deforestation and forest degradation, which imposes on companies a requirement to conduct due diligence in order to ensure that the products placed on the EU market are not associated with deforestation, the conversion of natural ecosystems and violations of IPLC rights;

Policy coherence for development

17.  Recalls that the effectiveness of EU external biodiversity policy depends on policy coherence between biodiversity and other key EU external policies, such as trade and investment agreements;

18.  Notes that the IPBES 2019 global assessment report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services shows the limits of the approach of the protection of biodiversity through the spatial extent of terrestrial and marine protected areas, which account for some of the few Aichi Biodiversity Targets partially achieved;

19.  Highlights the fact that biodiversity is at the centre of many economic activities, particularly those related to crop and livestock agriculture, forestry, fisheries and many forms of tourism directly based on nature and healthy ecosystems; urges the EU to mainstream biodiversity and ecosystem services into all related policy areas, notably agriculture, fisheries, forestry, energy, mining, trade, tourism and climate change, as well as into development and poverty reduction policies and actions, and to promote innovative and implementable solutions to tackle biodiversity loss while ensuring healthy, safe, accessible and affordable food to all;

20.  Notes with deep concern that EU consumption accounts for around 10 % of the global share of deforestation, in particular through dependency on imports of agricultural commodities such as palm oil, meat, soy, cocoa, coffee, maize, timber and rubber; reiterates its call on the Commission to submit a proposal in 2021 for an EU legal framework to halt and reverse EU-driven global deforestation, by ensuring that EU markets and consumption patterns do not detrimentally affect forests and biodiversity in developing countries, taking account of the knock-on effects of this on their populations; calls for the EU to support such countries in implementing the sustainability of food systems, through the creation of short supply chains, the development of agro-ecology, support for small farmers, while ensuring land rights and the rights of local communities;

21.  Calls for the EU to promote sustainable agricultural practices to protect and restore the world’s forests in its international development action, with particular attention to sustainable water resource management, the restoration of degraded land and the protection and restoration of biodiverse areas with high ecosystem services and climate mitigation potential; calls for the EU to step up the implementation of its Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan and, in particular, the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs), so as to reduce the demand for illegal timber and the associated trade, and to strengthen the rights of IPLC affected by logging;

22.  Recalls that the EU’s growing demand for wood for use in materials, energy and the bioeconomy is exceeding the limits of its supply, which increases the risk of import-embodied deforestation, land grabbing, forced displacement and violations of IPLC rights; reiterates that EU bioenergy policy should respond to strict environmental and social criteria;

23.  Underlines that EU-supported investment in agriculture, forestry or fisheries, or in undertakings that impact soil, grasslands, forests, water or sea, needs to be in line, inter alia, with the FAO/Committee on World Food Security (CFS) Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGTs) and the FAO/CFS Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems in order to protect ecosystems and prevent biodiversity loss;

24.  Calls for the protection and restoration of forests and the defence of biodiversity to be prioritised in the upcoming NDICI; emphasises that forests can only develop their full functions for the climate and the environment if they are managed sustainably;

25.  Underlines that protecting biodiversity and mitigating climate change are not automatically mutually supportive; calls for the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) to make it consistent with the EU’s international commitments on Agenda 2030, the Paris Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity, which entails, among other things, introducing social sustainability criteria, taking into account the risks of land grabbing; stresses, to this end, that RED II should comply with international tenure rights standards, i.e. ILO Convention No 169 and the FAO/CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Land Tenure and Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems;

Agriculture and fisheries

26.  Recalls that agri-food systems and smallholder farmers both depend and have significant impacts on biodiversity; highlights that the effective mainstreaming of biodiversity in agriculture requires ensuring the provision of financial incentives and voluntary and regulatory actions promoting uptake and delivery of biodiversity and environmental benefits by farmers through training, technology use and innovation, as well as good sustainable agricultural practices, which implies, among other things, restoring limited water resources and addressing land degradation and desertification; highlights that in accordance with the principle of policy coherence for development, environmentally harmful subsidies should be identified and phased out in line with the decisions taken at EU level; calls for mandatory ex ante and ex post Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) of related EU-supported investment; calls, to this end, for the EU to step up its financial and technical support to developing countries;

27.  Recalls that agro-ecology’s unique capacity to reconcile the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainability has been recognised by landmark reports from the IPCC and IPBES and by the World Bank and FAO-led global agricultural assessment (IAASTD); insists that EU external funding for agriculture should be in line with the transformative nature of the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN CBD; considers that investment in locally adapted and resource-efficient crops, agro-ecology, agroforestry and crop diversification should be prioritised accordingly;

28.  Recalls that the use of genetically modified seeds are covered by patents which undermines small-scale farmers’ and indigenous peoples’ rights to save, use, exchange and sell their seeds, which is enshrined in international agreements such as the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP); recalls that genetically modified crops are often associated with major use of herbicides; urges the Commission and the Member States to take into account the Union’s obligations under international agreements and to ensure that development aid is not used to promote genetic modification (GM) technologies in developing countries;

29.  Recalls that enhancing seed and crop diversity by switching to resistant varieties is vital in building the resilience of agriculture, adapting to changing conditions such as climate change, biodiversity loss, new zoonotic diseases, pests, drought or flood, taking into account food demand and food security in developing countries; calls for the Commission, within the remit of its development aid and trade and investment policies, to support farming that is in line with the provisions of the ITPGRFA, which safeguards the rights of small-scale farmers to maintain, control, protect and develop their own seeds and traditional knowledge (including financially, technically, in establishing seed banks in order to conserve and exchange traditional seeds, as well as within free trade agreements (FTAs)); underlines that the Union for Protection of New Varieties of Plants system (UPOV system) does not suit developing countries’ interests where farmer-managed seed systems (the informal seed sector) and the practises of saving, using, exchanging and selling seeds are prevalent; urges the EU to promote the informal seed system and to reform the UPOV system in such a way as to allow smallholder farmers to use saved seeds and by introducing a fair benefit sharing mechanism; recalls the Commission’s commitment to prioritise the effective implementation of the CBD in trade and investment agreements, and urges the EU to support the development of locally adapted seed varieties and farmer-saved seeds, which safeguard the rights of farmers to maintain genetic resources for the purposes of food security and climate change adaption;

30.  Calls for the EU to support intellectual property rights regimes that enhance the development of locally adapted seed varieties and farmer‑saved seeds;

31.  Recalls that unsustainable practices in agriculture and forestry, such as excessive water withdrawal and pollution by hazardous chemicals, cause substantial environmental degradation and biodiversity loss; calls for the EU to support developing countries in their efforts to strengthen pesticide risk regulation, to evaluate and align their pesticide registrations with the FAO/WHO International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management, including via South-South cooperation, to strengthen research and education in alternatives to pesticides and to increase their investments in agro-ecological and organic practices and production, including in sustainable irrigation and water management practises; in addition, calls for the EU to stop all exports of crop protection products banned in the EU, in line with the EU’s commitments towards policy coherence for development, the Green Deal, the ‘do no harm’ principle and the Rotterdam Convention of 1998; calls on the Commission to take action to prohibit the export from the EU of hazardous substances banned in the EU; calls on the Commission to ensure that exported products meet the same standards as those required of European producers, avoiding hazardous substances that are not allowed in the EU and allowing for a level playing field worldwide;

32.  Notes that gene drive technologies, as in the case with GM mosquitoes for the control of vector-borne diseases, pose serious and novel threats for the environment and nature, including irreversible changes to food chains and ecosystems, and losses of biodiversity, on which the world’s poorest depend for their livelihoods; reiterates its concern about the new legal, environmental, biosafety and governance challenges that might arise from the release of genetically engineered gene drive organisms into the environment, including for nature conservation purposes; reiterates that the free, prior and informed consent of IPLC must be sought and obtained prior to the release of any technologies which may impact on their traditional knowledge, innovation, practices, livelihoods and use of land, resources and water; stresses that this must be done in a participatory manner involving all potentially affected communities prior to any deployment; given that gene drive technologies raise concerns about the difficulties of predicting their behaviour, and that gene drive organisms could become invasive species in themselves, considers that no releases of genetically engineered gene drive organisms should be permitted, including for nature conservation purposes, in line with the precautionary principle;

33.  Recalls that the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of marine ecosystems is crucial for climate mitigation strategies, while ensuring that the rights and livelihoods of small-scale fishers and coastal communities are respected; emphasises that the IPCC special report on the ocean and cryosphere in a changing climate gives evidence of the benefits of combining scientific with local and indigenous knowledge to enforce resilience; urges the EU to develop a human rights-based approach towards ocean governance;

34.  Highlights that approximately 3 billion people around the world rely on fisheries products as a primary source of protein; underlines that the excessive fishing capacity within the framework of international fish trade, as in the case of yellowfin tuna in Seychelles waters, is threatening the food security of coastal communities and marine ecosystems in developing countries; recalls the EU’s commitment to the principle of policy coherence for development and good governance; takes the view that Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements should be enhanced in order for them to become truly sustainable, be in line with the best available scientific advice, and take into account the cumulative effects of the various fisheries agreements in force; calls for the EU to support sustainable fisheries activities in developing countries, with a view to restoring and protecting marine and coastal ecosystems; stresses the importance of continuing and stepping up the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, by increasing penalties for associated criminal practices and by dedicating financial resources to this end;

35.  Calls on the Commission to support the establishment of a global capacity building programme for the use and management of soil biodiversity and of the Global Soil Biodiversity Observatory; calls on the Commission to support ongoing efforts in the FAO’s Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture for a Global Plan of Action to address the decline of biodiversity for food and agriculture and promote its sustainable management;

36.  Highlights the fact that small-scale fishers are directly dependent on coastal and marine biodiversity for their livelihoods; emphasises that the world’s oceans and coasts are highly threatened by, for example, unsustainable fishing practices, rapid climate change, land-based pollution reaching the seas and oceans, marine pollution, ocean degradation, eutrophication and acidification; urges the EU and its Member States to take all necessary measures to address holistically the root causes of marine pollution and fish depletion by means of a comprehensive and integrated approach which takes into account the external impact of all EU sectoral policies, including marine pollution resulting from its agricultural policy, so as to respond effectively to its international commitments on biodiversity and climate change;

37.  Draws attention to the importance of marine resources for meeting basic human needs in developing countries; calls for recognition of the ocean as a global common resource with a view to contributing to the fulfilment of the SDGs in developing countries and ensuring its effective protection; calls on the Commission, accordingly, to champion in international multilateral fora, such as the regional fisheries management organisations, an ambitious governance model on marine biodiversity and marine genetic resources beyond national jurisdictions; stresses, in addition, the need to implement an integrated and ecosystem-based approach to all sectors of the Blue Economy, based on science; emphasises, accordingly, the duty of states to refrain from taking measures, including large-scale development projects, which may adversely affect the livelihoods, territories or access rights of inland and marine small-scale fisherfolk, unless their free, prior and informed consent is obtained, and ensure that courts protect such rights; emphasises that ex ante assessments of extractive industry projects should be conducted, in particular in order to evaluate the possible negative human rights impacts on local fishing communities;


38.  Highlights the EU’s responsibility to reduce the indirect drivers of biodiversity loss, by systematically including biodiversity and safeguards against land grabs in trade negotiations and dialogues with developing countries;

39.  Calls on the Commission to carefully assess the impacts of trade agreements on deforestation, biodiversity loss and human rights in the Sustainability Impact Assessments (SIAs), based on comprehensive, solid scientific data and evaluation methodologies;

40.  Points out that according to the FAO approximately a third of global food is lost or wasted, with approximately a third of harvested food being lost in either food transport or the transformation chain; urges the EU and its Member States to promote practices that reduce food loss and waste globally and to safeguard the rights of developing countries to food sovereignty as a means to achieve nutritional security, poverty reduction, and inclusive, sustainable and fair global supply chains and local and regional markets, devoting particular attention to family farming, with the aim of securing the supply of affordable and accessible food; calls, in line with this, for the prioritisation of local production and consumption that support small-scale farming, benefit women and young people in particular, ensure local job creation, guarantee fair prices for producers and consumers, and reduce countries’ dependence on imports and the vulnerability in particular of developing countries to international price fluctuations;

41.  Notes that the trade and sustainable development (TSD) chapters of EU free trade agreements (FTAs) are not effectively enforceable; asks the Commission to reinforce TSD chapters in the context of EU FTAs, in particular as regards biodiversity-related provisions; stresses that in order to be effectively enforceable, biodiversity-related provisions and the environmental objectives of the EU’s FTAs must be clear and concrete and their implementation verifiable; calls on the Commission to consider, within the upcoming review of the 15-point action plan, further action and resource allocation to allow for the effective implementation of TSD chapters, applying the principle of policy coherence for sustainable development;

42.  Points out that the EU already includes biodiversity-related non-trade provisions in trade agreements, while noting that implementable, measurable and realistic guarantees can be considered;

43.  Highlights that the biodiversity of cultivated crops and farmed animals has fallen as a result of international trade; calls for a full assessment of the direct and indirect impact of EU FTAs on biodiversity;

44.  Calls on the Commission to carefully review its trade policy, especially its Economic Partnership Agreements, to ensure that it is not in contradiction with the principles of policy coherence for development, the Paris Agreement and the Green Deal; asks the Commission and the Council not to conclude new FTAs that could contribute to increasing world deforestation and biodiversity loss;

Public health

45.  Stresses that the deterioration of biodiversity and ecosystems have both direct and indirect impacts on public health;

46.  Notes that diverse diets combined with global convergence to moderate levels of calorie and meat consumption would improve health and food security in many areas and also substantially reduce the impacts on biodiversity;

47.  Stresses the link between biodiversity loss and the rise of zoonotic pathogens; recalls that the risk of pandemics is heightened by anthropogenic changes bringing wildlife, livestock and people into closer contact, such as land-use change, deforestation, agricultural expansion and intensification, and legal and illegal wildlife trade and consumption, as well as demographic pressure; recalls that ecological restoration is critical for the implementation of the ‘One Health’ approach; stresses, more broadly, that the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of recognising the intrinsic connection between human health, animal health and biodiversity; stresses, accordingly, the significance of the ‘One Health’ approach and the subsequent need to place a stronger focus on healthcare, disease prevention and access to medicines in developing countries, by ensuring the coherence of trade, health, research and innovation policies with the objectives of development policy; calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, to reinforce EU action against pandemics and other health threats, taking into account the links between zoonotic pandemics and biodiversity loss, in line with the new Commission proposal on serious cross-border threats to health, while building upon cooperation with EU partner countries to reduce the risk of future zoonotic pandemics and support the development of an international treaty on pandemics under the WHO;

48.  Recalls that the majority of drugs used for healthcare and the prevention of diseases are derived from biodiversity, notably plants all around the world, while many important therapeutics are derived from indigenous knowledge and traditional medicine;

49.  Stresses the challenges raised in developing countries by intellectual property rights over genetic resources and traditional knowledge in terms of access to medicine, the production of generic drugs and farmers’ access to seeds;

50.  Stresses the need to ensure that the benefits of nature’s genetic resources are shared fairly and equitably and highlights the need for consistency between international agreements in this regard; underlines that regulations adopted to protect genetic resources and the associated traditional knowledge must comply with international commitments on the promotion of and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples, as enshrined in the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ILO Convention No 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of 1989; stresses the need to disclose the origin of genetic resources during patent proceedings, when known, in line with Directive 98/44/EC(12); calls on the Commission to push for making WTO rules consistent with the Nagoya Protocol to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, in order to prevent biopiracy effectively;

Indigenous peoples and local communities

51.  Underlines the fact that the IPBES global assessment demonstrated the importance of IPLC to global biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management; regrets that, in spite of its great potential, indigenous knowledge has not been effectively used, while explicit recognition of indigenous and tribal peoples, and of their rights, remains absent from the legal, policy and institutional frameworks of many countries, and its implementation remains a major issue;

52.  Underlines that pastoralists and other nature-based land users on rangelands and natural grasslands contribute to conservation and the sustainable use of natural and domestic biodiversity;

53.  Highlights the numerous allegations of large-scale violations of the rights of indigenous peoples reported by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, resulting for example from increased mineral extraction, the development of renewable energy projects, agribusiness expansion, mega-infrastructure development and conservation measures;

54.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to enhance the scrutiny of EU-funded projects and trade agreements in order to prevent and detect human rights abuses and allow for action against such abuses, paying particular attention to those projects and agreements that may affect the lands, territories or natural assets of indigenous peoples and local communities, including where the creation of a protected area, or the expansion of any existing such area, is involved; stresses that the Sustainable Development Mechanism should aim to finance projects that benefit those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss and should undergo a human rights impact assessment, with only projects having a positive impact being eligible for registration; insists that all activities in developing countries by EU financial institutions, notably the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, must be consistent with the EU’s climate commitments and follow a rights-based approach; calls for the reinforcement and deepening of the respective banks’ complaint mechanisms for individuals or groups whose rights may have been violated by such activities and who could be eligible for remedies;

55.  Recalls the duty of states under international law to recognise and protect the rights of indigenous people to own, develop, control and use their communal lands and to participate in the management and conservation of their natural resources; urges the EU to ensure that a rights-based approach is applied to all projects funded through official development assistance, with particular regard to the rights of pastoralists and IPLC, including recognition of their right to self-determination and access to land rights as enshrined in human rights treaties, notably UNDRIP; stresses the need for compliance with the principle of free, prior and informed consent as set out in ILO Convention No 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of 1989, including in relation to all decision-making regarding protected areas, and the establishment of accountability, complaint and redress mechanisms for infringements of indigenous rights, not least in the context of conservation activities; calls on those EU Member States that have not yet ratified ILO Convention No 169 to do so; underlines that ILO Convention No 169 obliges all ratifying states to develop coordinated action to protect indigenous peoples’ rights;

56.  Highlights the numerous allegations of large-scale violations also of the rights of environmental defenders, as reported by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, who denounced the growing number of attacks, death threats and murders perpetrated against them; recalls the obligation on states to protect environmental defenders and their families against harassment, intimidation and violence, as enshrined in international human rights law, as well as to guarantee their fundamental freedoms; calls for the EU to further invest in and strengthen specific protection mechanisms and programmes for environmental human rights defenders, as well as for indigenous populations, and local communities, including ensuring the continuation of projects; stresses the need to recognise their rights, knowledge and experience in the fight against biodiversity loss and environmental degradation;

57.  Urges the EU to ensure that the NaturAfrica Initiative protects wildlife and its related ecosystems in compliance with a rights-based approach to conservation, which requires the free, prior and informed consent of the IPLC concerned, together with the civil society groups who support them; asks the EU to provide technical and financial assistance to this effect;

58.  Encourages the EU and its Member States to support the African Governance Architecture, and in particular the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in order to implement the African Union Policy Framework for Pastoralism in Africa and, more broadly, to recognise pastoralists’ and indigenous peoples’ rights;

59.  Stresses that securing tenure rights is a prerequisite for effective biodiversity mainstreaming; notes, however, that the lack of collective land rights for indigenous peoples is a primary obstacle to ensuring that rights-based conservation becomes effective;

60.  Recalls that the transition to a green and digital economy has huge implications for the mining sector and that there are growing concerns that mining will spread into sensitive forest landscapes, contributing to deforestation and forest degradation; recalls that 80 % of forests worldwide lie within the traditional lands and territories of indigenous people; calls for the EU and its Member States to step up their efforts to foster responsible and sustainable mining practices, while accelerating their transition towards a circular economy; calls, in particular, for the EU to develop a region-wide framework for extractive industries which would sanction companies violating human rights and provide legal redress to indigenous peoples whose rights have been violated; stresses the need to ban mineral exploration and exploitation in all protected areas, including national parks and World Heritage Sites;

Environmental criminality

61.  Underlines the fact that environmental crime poses a global threat to nature conservation, sustainable development, stability and security;

62.  Stresses that wildlife trafficking should be classified as a serious crime in accordance with the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime in an effort to facilitate international cooperation, notably in a context where the trade in and consumption of wildlife represent a significant risk of future pandemics;

63.  Calls on the Commission to revise the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade; welcomes the draft measures published by the Commission aimed at effectively banning the EU trade in ivory; calls on the Commission and the Member States, in this regard, to drive international action to stop the demand for elephant ivory and to address the root causes of the elephant poaching crisis, by stepping up their cooperation with and assistance of African countries; calls for the revision of the Environmental Crime Directive(13) by expanding its scope and introducing specific provisions for sanctions to ensure that environmental crimes, including illegal fishing, wildlife crime and forest crime, are recognised as serious crimes and adequately penalised, especially in the context of organised crime, thereby creating strong deterrents;

64.  Urges supply, transit and demand countries in the illegal wildlife trade to deepen their levels of cooperation in order to combat this trade along the entire chain; urges, in particular, the governments of supply countries to: i) improve the rule of law and create effective deterrents by strengthening criminal investigation, prosecution and sentencing; ii) enact stronger laws that treat illicit wildlife trafficking as a ‘serious crime’ deserving the same level of attention as other forms of transnational organised crime; iii) allocate more resources to combating wildlife crime, particularly to strengthen wildlife law enforcement, trade controls, monitoring, and customs detection and seizure; iv) commit to a zero-tolerance policy on corruption;

65.  Notes that environmental crime threatens human security by damaging resources that are essential for livelihoods, generating violence and conflicts, fuelling corruption and causing other harm; urges the EU to make the fight against environmental crime an overriding strategic political priority in international judicial cooperation and in multilateral fora, notably by promoting compliance with multilateral environmental agreements through the adoption of sanctions and exchanges of best practices and by promoting the enlargement of the scope of the International Criminal Court to cover criminal acts that amount to ecocide; calls on the Commission and the Member States to allocate appropriate financial and human resources to preventing, investigating and prosecuting environmental crimes;

66.  Underlines that international law has evolved to embrace new concepts such as the common heritage of humanity, sustainable development and future generations, but stresses that there is no permanent international mechanism to monitor and address environmental damage and destruction that alters the global commons or ecosystem services; calls for the EU and the Member States, to this end, to support a paradigm shift to include ecocide and the right of future generations in international environmental law;

o   o

67.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) OJ L 201, 26.7.2013, p. 60.
(3) and
(5) OJ C 118, 8.4.2020, p. 15.
(8) Texts adopted, P9_TA(2020)0285.
(9) Biodiversity: Finance and the Economic and Business Case for Action. Executive Summary and Synthesis, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), May 2019, p. 7.
(10) Biodiversity: Finance and the Economic and Business Case for Action. Executive Summary and Synthesis, OECD, May 2019.
(11) IPBES Workshop on Biodiversity and Pandemics, Workshop Report, 2020, p. 23.
(12) Directive 98/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 1998 on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions (OJ L 213, 30.7.1998, p. 13).
(13) Directive 2008/99/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on the protection of the environment through criminal law (OJ L 328, 6.12.2008, p. 28).

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