Tag Archives: biodiversity

EU Flagship Initiative on Resource Efficiency Launched

The European Commission has launched a very important flagship initiative on resource efficiency under the Europe 2020 Strategy. The Commission believes that increasing resource efficiency will be key to securing growth and jobs for Europe. It will bring major economic opportunities, improve productivity, drive down costs and boost competitiveness.

The most important medium-term policy measures are:

• An energy efficiency plan with a time horizon of 2020 which will identify measures to achieve energy savings of 20% across all sectors, and which will be followed by legislation to ensure energy efficiency and savings;

• Proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy, Cohesion Policy, energy infrastructure and trans-European networks for transport in the context of the next EU budget to align these areas with the requirements of a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy;

• A new EU biodiversity strategy for 2020 to halt further loss to and restore biodiversity and ecosystem services in the light of pressures on ecosystems;

• Measures to tackle the challenges in commodity markets and on raw materials which will, amongst others, periodically assess critical raw materials and define a trade policy to ensure sustainable supplies of raw materials from global markets. These measures will promote extraction, recycling, research, innovation and substitution inside the EU;

• A strategy to make the EU a ‘circular economy’, based on a recycling society with the aim of reducing waste generation and using waste as a resource;

• Early action on adaptation to climate change to minimise threats to ecosystems and human health, support economic development and help adjust our infrastructures to cope with unavoidable climate change;

• A water policy that makes water saving measures and increasing water efficiency a priority, in order to ensure that water is available in sufficient quantities, is of appropriate quality, is used sustainably and with minimum resource input, and is ultimately returned to the environment with acceptable quality.

Whither Biodiversity in the EU?

The Council conclusions on biodiversity reveal a disparaging truth: we have failed to reach our own targets for prevention of biodiversity loss. The document says that both the EU and the global biodiversity 2010 targets have not been met and that biodiversity loss continues at an unacceptable rate entailing very serious ecological, economic and social consequences.

According to the conclusions the main reasons are incomplete implementation of certain legal instruments, incomplete and poor integration into sectoral policies, insufficient scientific knowledge and data gaps, insufficient funding, lack of additional efficiently-targeted instruments to tackle specific problems, and shortcomings in communication and education to enhance awareness.

So what does the Council do – it devises a new headline target of halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020. The idea is to develop a EU post-2010 Biodiversity Strategy, including an impact assessment, which should establish the baseline for measuring the halt of biodiversity loss and its restoration, propose sub-targets and also identify the necessary, feasible and cost-effective measures and actions for reaching them.

I do hope that this new approach will be successful. I am also encouraged by the understanding of the Council of the need to advance work on the economic valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services and to incorporate it into policy making and implementation.

Let’s hope that appropriate action follows.

Valuing Ecosystem Services

TEEB – a study on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity was launched by germany and the European commission to develop a global study on the economics of biodiversity loss.

A new report has been published, summarizing the study findings for policy makers. The main points:

1. Valuing ecosystems makes economic sense

Losses in the natural world have direct economic repercussions that we systematically underestimate.

2. It is essential to measure nature and biodiversity

Developing our capacity to measure and monitor biodiversity, ecosystems and the provision of services is an essential step towards better management of our natural capital.

3. Investing in nature pays off

Investing in natural capital supports a wide range of economic sectors and maintains and expands our options for economic growth and sustainable development.

4. The social dimension needs to be fully taken into account to develop successful strategies to protect biodiversity

This involves making sure the right people pay – both locally and globally. It also means looking at property and use rights and potentially easing any transition pains.

5. Nature is an asset in future economic strategies

Biodiversity and ecosystem services are natural assets with a key role to play in future economic strategies seeking to promote growth and prosperity.

 

Review of Sustainable Development Policy

The European Commission has issued its 2009 review of the European Union strategy for sustainable development.

The main priorities outlined in the report are:

– contributing to a rapid shift to a low-carbon and low-input economy, based on energy and resource-efficient technologies and sustainable transport and shifts towards sustainable consumption behaviour;

– intensifying environmental efforts for the protection of biodiversity, water and other natural resources;

– promoting social inclusion;

– strengthening the international dimension of sustainable development and intensifying efforts to combat global poverty.