EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030

In “A European Green Deal”

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Biodiversity plays a fundamental role in the functioning of ecosystems, which provide a wide range of contributions essential to human life, such as food, fuel and medicines, crop pollination, climate regulation, or water and air filtration. It is, however, under intense pressure from human activities, and declining more now than at any point in human history. Key threats to biodiversity include land- and sea-use change; overexploitation of natural resources; climate change; pollution and invasion of alien species.

In 2011, the EU adopted a biodiversity strategy to 2020, reflecting the commitments made within the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the main international agreement related to biodiversity, to which the EU is a party. A new post-2020 global biodiversity framework is expected to be adopted at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP15), originally planned for October 2020 in China.

In her mission letter to Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen asked him to put forward a new Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 'looking at everything from Natura 2000, deforestation, land degradation, protected species and habitats, and sustainable seas and oceans', and to ensure 'that Europe leads the way to an ambitious agreement at the 2020 Conference of the Parties to the CBD'.

In its European Green Deal communication, the Commission indicated that the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 would be presented by the end of March 2020, and followed up in 2021 by measures to address the main drivers of biodiversity loss.

On 16 January 2020, Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the Commission to move away from voluntary commitments and design a biodiversity strategy for 2030 that sets legally binding targets for the EU and its Member States, including specific ones to protect natural areas and restore degraded ecosystems by 2030. It also stressed the need for the international biodiversity framework to take the form of a legally binding agreement. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, COP15 was postponed.

The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 was presented on 20 May 2020. It entails, among others, the following actions and objectives:

  • having at least 30% of EU land and 30% of EU seas designated as protected areas. At least a third of these EU’s protected areas, including all remaining EU primary and old-growth forests, should be under stricter protection;
  • as part of an EU Nature Restoration Plan, setting legally binding EU nature restoration targets to restore degraded ecosystems. The Commission will put forward a proposal in 2021, subject to an impact assessment. Further elements of the nature restoration plan include action to reduce the use and risk of pesticides by 50% by 2030, as set out in the Farm to Fork strategy; a review of the EU Pollinators initiative; a revision of the Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection; a roadmap for planting at least 3 billion additional trees in the EU by 2030, as part of the new EU Forest Strategy to be presented in 2021; a new action plan to conserve fisheries resources and protect marine ecosystems; the restoration of at least 25,000 km of rivers to a free-flowing state;
  • putting in place a new European biodiversity governance framework, with a monitoring and review mechanism, based on a set of agreed indicators;
  • stepping up implementation and enforcement of EU environmental legislation;
  • mobilising €20 billion a year for biodiversity through various sources, including EU funds, national and private funding;

  • leading efforts at international level to agree an ambitious new global post-2020 framework at COP15, which would include, inter alia, overarching global goals for biodiversity for 2050; global 2030 targets in line with EU commitments set out in its biodiversity strategy; and a much stronger implementation, monitoring and review process.

The Commission would review the strategy by 2024 to assess progress.

On 23 October 2020, the Council adopted conclusions endorsing the objectives of the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030.

In Parliament, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), responsible for the file, appointed César Luena (S&D, Spain) as rapporteur. The Committees on Agriculture and Rural Development and on International Trade were associated Committees under Rule 57 of the rules of procedure. The ENVI Committee adopted its report on 28 May 2021, which was debated and voted in plenary at the June I session.

In its resolution adopted with 515 votes to 90 and 86 abstentions, Parliament welcomed the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and its level of ambition, making nearly 200 recommendations to strengthen it. Parliament notably called on the Commission to submit in 2022 a proposal for a legally binding biodiversity governance framework, following a comprehensive impact assessment. This 'biodiversity law' (counterpart of the European climate law) should steer a path to 2050 through a set of objectives, including targets for 2030 and the COP15 commitments, and should establish a monitoring mechanism with smart indicators, within and beyond protected areas.

At COP15, which finally took place from 7 to 19 December 2022 in Montreal, world's nations adopted the 'Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework', with 4 goals and 23 targets to be achieved by 2030. Those include ensuring effective conservation and management of at least 30 % of terrestrial, and of marine areas; and having restoration completed or underway on at least 30 % of degraded terrestrial, and marine ecosystems. On 16 January 2023, the ENVI Committee held an exchange of views with EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius on COP15 outcomes.

Parliament and Council are currently working on two core proposals tabled under the EU biodiversity strategy: a nature restoration law; and revised rules for the sustainable use of pesticides.

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Further reading:

Author: Vivienne Halleux, Members' Research Service, legislative-train@europarl.europa.eu

As of 20/01/2023.