The Environment Council agreed today to a long-term vision and a new biodiversity headline target for 2020. By agreeing to the strongest of four options proposed by the European Commission, the Council has given biodiversity a second chance after the failure to meet the target of halting biodiversity loss in the EU set for 2010.

The Environment Council agreed today to a long-term vision and a new biodiversity headline target for 2020. By agreeing to the strongest of four options proposed by the European Commission, the Council has given biodiversity a second chance after the failure to meet the target of halting biodiversity loss in the EU set for 2010.

At the Environment Council meeting today, the Environment Ministers of the EU have agreed on a long term vision for 2050, whereby “European Union biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides – its natural capital – are protected, valued and appropriately restored for biodiversity's intrinsic value and for their essential contribution to human wellbeing and economic prosperity, and so that catastrophic changes caused by the loss of biodiversity are avoided”.

In support of that vision, Ministers have agreed to a “headline target of halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, and restoring them in so far as feasible, while stepping up the EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss”.

The chosen target is the most ambitious of four proposals advanced by the European Commission.

Environment Ministers have recognised that the failure to halt biodiversity loss in Europe by 2010 was due to, among others, the insufficient implementation of certain legal instruments and to the lack of integration with other EU policies. This recognition of the absolute need to mainstream biodiversity policy into both sectoral and cross-cutting EU policies and strategies has led the Ministers to recommend that this new biodiversity target become a headline target in the EU’s new long-term economic strategy (EU 2020). Both the biodiversity target and its inclusion in EU 2020 must now be endorsed by the EU Heads of State and Government at the EU Summit on the 25th and 26th of March.

Ministers also recognised over-exploitation and unsustainable use of natural resources, ocean acidification and pollution as some of the key drivers of biodiversity loss.

Seas At Risk considers that the integration of biodiversity protection requirements in the Common Fisheries Policy will be key to achieving the new biodiversity target in marine ecosystems. Vera Coelho, Policy Officer at Seas At Risk commented: “The new EU headline target on biodiversity, as agreed to by Environment Ministers, is a step in the right direction – but it will only bring about tangible results if sectoral policies regarding fisheries, transport and spatial planning, among others, properly contribute to the achievement of that target. The ongoing reform of the CFP and the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive will be key in this process”.

Seas At Risk also welcomes the Ministers’ enhanced attention to biodiversity in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction and their proposal to develop an international list of ecologically and biologically significant marine areas in need of protection.


Council conclusions on biodiversity post-2010

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