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Communication: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 - guide

05 May 2011
by eub2 -- last modified 05 May 2011

The Commission on 3 May presented a new strategy to protect and improve the state of Europe's biodiversity over the next decade. The strategy includes six targets which address the main drivers of biodiversity loss, and which will reduce the main pressures on nature and ecosystem services in the EU by anchoring biodiversity objectives in key sectoral policies. The global aspects of biodiversity loss are also addressed, ensuring that the EU contributes to combating biodiversity loss around the world. The strategy is in line with the commitments made by the EU in Nagoya, Japan, last year.


1. Why does biodiversity loss matter?

The degradation and loss of biodiversity has significant environmental, economic and social consequences within the EU and at the global level. There are strong ethical and moral arguments in favour of protecting biodiversity in its own right, independently of its instrumental value to humans. In addition, ecosystems provide a number of services that contribute directly and indirectly to human well-being giving us food, fresh water and clean air, shelter and medicine, mitigating natural disasters, pests and diseases and regulating the climate.

Biodiversity loss has economic costs that are only now starting to be fully appreciated. It is costly for society as a whole, and particularly for economic actors in sectors that depend directly on ecosystem services. For example, insect pollination in the EU has an estimated economic value of €15 billion per year. Biodiversity loss also has impacts on jobs, since one in six jobs in Europe is directly or indirectly linked to the environment and biodiversity. It also limits the delivery of several ecosystem services essential to maintain a healthy population, from the provisioning of food and potable water to clean air and medicine. In addition, it has a strong bearing on the EU's territorial cohesion, since biodiversity and ecosystems cement the social fabric and identity of many European regions.

2. What is the current state of biodiversity in the EU? Which species are the most endangered?

The 2010 EU biodiversity baseline pulls together a wealth of information about the current status of biodiversity:

* only 17% of habitats and species protected under EU legislation are in favourable conservation status. 65% of assessed habitats and 52% of assessed species are in unfavourable conservation status.

* Many ecosystems experienced considerable decline since 1990, especially agro-ecosystems, grasslands and wetlands. Large expanses were lost due to land conversion and abandonment.

* up to 25% of European animal species, including mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds and butterflies face the risk of extinction. 22% of species indigenous to the EU are threatened by invasive alien species.

* since 1990, the European Union's common farmland birds have declined by 20–25% and, during the same period, common bird populations have decreased by around 10%.

* 88% of fish stocks are over-exploited or significantly depleted and 46% fall outside safe biological limits.

* Most of the ecosystem services in Europe are judged to be 'degraded' – no longer able to deliver the optimal quality and quantity of basic services such as crop pollination, clean air and water, and control of floods or erosion.

Although the strategy is based on rigorous science, there are still knowledge gaps. The conservation status of 18% of habitats and 31% of species is unknown, for example.

3. What is causing biodiversity loss in the EU?

Europe's biodiversity is under severe threat from habitat loss due to land use change and fragmentation; pollution; overexploitation/unsustainable use of resources; invasive alien species and climate change. These pressures are all either constant or increasing in intensity. The situation is similar at global level.

These pressures are underpinned by indirect drivers that relate to demographic and cultural/lifestyle choices, market failures, and economic structure, size and growth. Other underlying causes include the invisibility of biodiversity's economic value, its lack of appreciation as a public good, and insufficient public awareness about the causes and consequences of biodiversity loss and a lack of knowledge about actions that can be taken to prevent these losses.

4. What do Europe's citizens think about biodiversity?

Although a recent Eurobarometer (1) survey shows that only 35% of respondents know what biodiversity is, and around the same share feel well informed, once the term is explained, 87% of EU citizens feel that biodiversity loss is a very or fairly serious problem in their country and 85% a serious problem in the EU. Only 9% of respondents doubt that biodiversity loss would have any effect at all on them now or in the future. Fully 96% of respondents are in agreement that halting biodiversity loss is a moral duty stemming from society's responsibility to respect nature. Equally, 92% of citizens advocate protecting biodiversity on the grounds that our well-being and quality of life depend on them. A majority (70%) of EU citizens say they have personally made efforts to protect biodiversity and roughly half of these respondents would be willing to do even more in order to counteract biodiversity loss.

5. What is proposed in the strategy?

The new strategy is built around a limited number of measurable, ambitious, yet realistic sub-targets that focus on tackling the main drivers of biodiversity loss and pressures exerted on biodiversity. It centres on six mutually supportive and inter-dependent targets which will halt biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystem services, restore them in so far as feasible, and step up the EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss. Each target addresses a different aspect of the biodiversity challenge, from reducing major pressures on biodiversity in the EU and closing important policy gaps, to enhancing the status of Europe's biodiversity and the services provided by it. The targets are accompanied by corresponding sets of actions needed to reach them.

Effective implementation should begin with the full implementation of the EU's existing legislation. In that context, the adequate management of the Natura 2000 network and its sufficient financing will be of key importance. The upcoming reforms in the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy and the Cohesion policy and the shaping of the Future Financial Perspectives are important opportunities to ensure that they also deliver the necessary support and funding for the strategy.

The strategy is also an integral part of the Europe 2020 Strategy. It will contribute to the EU's resource efficiency objectives by ensuring that Europe's natural capital is managed sustainably, as well as to climate change mitigation and adaptation goals by improving the resilience of ecosystems and their services.

6. What is the 2050 EU Biodiversity vision?

By 2050, 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.

7. What is the EU 2020 EU Biodiversity target?

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.

8. What are the six targets?

* Target 1 – To fully implement the Birds and Habitats Directives:

To halt the deterioration in the status of all species and habitats covered by EU nature legislation and achieve a significant and measurable improvement in their status so that, by 2020, compared to current assessments: (i) 100 % more habitat assessments and 50 % more species assessments under the Habitats Directive show an improved conservation status; and (ii) 50 % more species assessments under the Birds Directive show a secure or improved status

* Target 2 – To maintain and enhance ecosystems and their services:

By 2020, ecosystems and their services are maintained and enhanced by establishing green infrastructure and restoring at least 15 % of degraded ecosystems

* Target 3 – To increase the contribution of agriculture and forestry to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity:

* 3a) Agriculture: By 2020, maximise areas under agriculture across grasslands, arable land and permanent crops that are covered by biodiversity-related measures under the CAP so as to ensure the conservation of biodiversity and to bring about a measurable improvement* in the conservation status of species and habitats that depend on or are affected by agriculture and in the provision of ecosystem services as compared to the EU2010 Baseline, thus contributing to enhance sustainable management.

* 3b) Forests: By 2020, Forest Management Plans or equivalent instruments, in line with Sustainable Forest Management (SFM), are in place for all forests that are publicly owned and for forest holdings above a certain size** (to be defined by the Member States or regions and communicated in their Rural Development Programmes) that or receive funding under the EU Rural Development Policy, in line with Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) so as to bring about a measurable improvement* in the conservation status of forest ecosystems and species and in the provision of related ecosystem services as compared to the EU 2010 Baseline

* For both targets, improvement is to be measured against the quantified enhancement targets for the conservation status of species and habitats of EU interest in Target 1 and the restoration of degraded ecosystems under target 2.

** For smaller forest holdings, Member States may provide additional incentives to encourage the adoption of Management Plans or equivalent instruments that are in line with SFM.

* Target 4 – To ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources:

Achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) by 2015. Achieve a population age and size distribution indicative of a healthy stock, through fisheries management with no significant adverse impacts on other stocks, species and ecosystems, in support of achieving Good Environmental Status by 2020, as required under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive

* Target 5 – To control invasive alien species (IAS):

By 2020, Invasive Alien Species and their pathways are identified and prioritised, priority species controlled or eradicated, and pathways are managed to prevent the introduction and establishment of new IAS.

* Target 6 – To help avert global biodiversity loss:

By 2020, the EU has stepped up its contribution to averting global biodiversity loss.

9. What will it cost to implement the strategy?

Full quantification of the cumulative impacts of the proposed measures is not possible at this stage. The review of the costs of the measures proposed in the Strategy indicates that funding needs will differ according to the targets and measures proposed. In some cases, more funds will be required to implement measures needed to achieve a given target, in particular for example for the restoration of ecosystems and the global target. In others, the focus will be more on redistributing existing resources and ensuring they are taken up to their full extent (agriculture and forestry, fisheries targets).

The European Commission is in the process of further assessing the funding needs for implementing the new biodiversity strategy.

10. What socio-economic benefits will the strategy bring?

Measures related to the six key targets of the strategy will help maintain and enhance ecosystem services, providing wide-ranging socio-economic benefits to society and the private sector.

Maintained and enhanced increased ecosystem services will provide clean air and water, carbon storage and natural disaster control, reduced soil erosion as well as reduced vulnerability to climate change, with associated socio-economic benefits. For example, the restoration of the Skjern river in Denmark, from a channelled river to a meandering course, leading to the creation of a new lake and delta, is estimated to have had a positive benefit of DDK 67 million to 228 million in net present value.

Biodiversity protection has strong innovation benefits. Genetic diversity, for example, is a main source of innovation for the medical and cosmetics industries, while the innovation potential of ecosystem restoration and green infrastructure is largely untapped. EU companies will benefit in particular from protected or increased genetic diversity for new cosmetics and medication. Between 25-50% of the pharmaceutical industry profits, estimated at USD 640 billion a year, are derived from biodiversity and genetic resources. So is a significant proportion of the natural cosmetics market value, estimated at USD 7 billion in 2008.

Nature-based innovation, and action to restore ecosystems and conserve biodiversity, can create new skills, jobs and business opportunities. TEEB estimates that global business opportunities from investing in biodiversity could be worth US$ 2-6 trillion by 2050. Maintaining and enhancing ecosystems can also lead to local economic regeneration. In the UK, for instance, the creation of the National Forest increased the number of local jobs by 4.1% and local regeneration using green infrastructure attracted £96 million of investment.

11. Are there real-world examples that demonstrate the cost of biodiversity loss?

Yes. The following examples are taken from the TEEB reports, which were partly funded by the European Commission (full details available at

* US$ 50 billion: the annual loss of opportunity due to the current over-exploitation of global fisheries. Competition between highly subsidized industrial fishing fleets coupled with poor regulation and weak enforcement of existing rules has led to over-exploitation of most commercially valuable fish stocks, reducing the income from global marine fisheries by US$50 billion annually, compared to a more sustainable fishing scenario (World Bank and FAO 2009).

* €153 billion: insect pollinators are nature's multi-billion dollar providers. For 2005 the total economic value of insect pollination was estimated at Euros 153 billion. This represents 9.5% of world agricultural output for human food in 2005. (Gallai et al. 2009)

* US$30 billion – US$172 billion: the annual value of human welfare benefits provided by coral reefs. Although just covering 1.2% of the world's continent shelves, coral reefs are home to an estimated 1-3 million species including more than a quarter of all marine fish species. (Allsopp et al. 2009). Some 30 million people in coastal and island communities are totally reliant on reef-based resources as their primary means of food production, income and livelihood. (Gomez et al. 1994, Wilkinson 2004). Estimates of the value of human welfare benefits provided by coral reefs range from US$30 billion (Cesar et al. 2003) to US$172 billion annually (Martinez et al. 2007)

* US$20-US$67 million: the benefits of tree planting in the city of Canberra over four years. Local authorities in Canberra, Australia, have planted 400,000 trees to regulate microclimate, reduce pollution and thereby improve urban air quality, reduce energy costs for air conditioning as well as store and sequester carbon. These benefits are expected to amount to some US$20-US$67 million over the period 2008-2012, in terms of the value generated or savings realized for the city. (Brack 2002)

* US$6.5 billion: the amount New York saved by investing in payments to maintain natural water purification services in the Catskills watershed (US$1-US$1.5 billion) rather than opting for a man-made a filtration plant (US$ 6-8 billion plus US$300-500 million/year operating costs). (Perrot-Maitre and Davis 2001).

12. Why does the EU need a new biodiversity strategy?

The previous biodiversity strategy – the Biodiversity Action Plan – failed to halt biodiversity loss, and a fresh approach was therefore required.

Accordingly, in March 2010, the Heads of State of the European Union (European Council) adopted an ambitious vision for 2050 and a headline target for biodiversity to replace the expiring 2010 target, adopted in 2001.

The EU also signed up to a set of new global biodiversity targets under the auspices of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), at its meeting in October 2010. Parties to the CBD are required to develop or update national biodiversity strategies/action plans with a view to implementing CBD commitments.

Hence the EU needs a new strategy that will allow these commitments to be met, building on lessons learned from past efforts to address the problem.

13. What has the EU done to date to safeguard biodiversity?

In 2001, the EU set itself the ambitious target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010, and in 2006 it adopted the Biodiversity Action Plan to speed progress towards that target. On the conservation side, close to 18% of the territory of the European Union is now covered by the Natura 2000 network of nature protection areas, and the network is still growing, mostly in marine areas. As the designation process approaches completion, the emphasis is now on the proper management of the sites, building on cooperation with land managers. These efforts have brought substantial benefits for certain species and habitats, as well as social and economic benefits, as has the implementation of other pieces of environmental legislation. Nevertheless, biodiversity continues to be lost at worrying rates. More needs to be done to address this challenge effectively.

14. Why did the EU fail to reach its previous 2010 biodiversity target?

The failure was due to a combination of different factors, including:

* inadequate implementation of EU Nature legislation

* insufficient funds for biodiversity protection

* knowledge gaps

* insufficient integration of biodiversity concerns into other policy areas

* new emerging threats such as climate change

* crucial policy gaps which have a significant impact on biodiversity loss, including the lack of a comprehensive policy on invasive species, and a failure to reach agreement on the Soil Framework Directive which is essential to protect soils in Europe.

An additional problem is the nature of biodiversity policy itself. Biodiversity is complex and cross-cutting, and the problem cannot be tackled by focusing on a single sector. 'Ownership' of the problem is widely spread, and this diffuseness has been a handicap, as no single actor feels fully responsible.

15. What are the main differences between the new strategy and the 2006 Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP)?

The approach taken in the 2006 BAP was very comprehensive and detailed. It included over 160 different actions with no clear prioritisation framework. This made it difficult to implement and monitor, and led to lengthy and burdensome reporting requirements. The new strategy is better prioritised and sets out a limited number of ambitious yet achievable targets and accompanying measures which, when implemented, will deliver significant, scaled-up benefits for biodiversity. These will address the main obstacles that prevented the achievement of the 2010 target, including slow implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives, insufficient integration into sectoral policies, insufficient funding, and specific policy gaps, in particular on invasive alien species and ecosystem services outside protected areas.

For the first time, EU biodiversity policy will benefit from a coherent knowledge framework, including a baseline showing the state and trends of Europe's biodiversity. This baseline will serve as a benchmark for measuring progress and will help keep the EU on track towards reaching its biodiversity objectives. Thanks to the international study on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), funded by the European Commission and other governments, there is also a better understanding of the economic value of biodiversity and ecosystem services and the need to conserve and restore them.

16. The EU already has nature protection legislation in place, so what more needs to be done in terms of protected areas?

Natura 2000 is indeed the largest network of protected areas in the world, comprising 18% of EU territory and some 25000 sites. But the slow implementation of the Habitats and Birds directives has been identified as a shortcoming in EU biodiversity policy. Additional measures are needed to ensure the directives reach their ultimate objective, i.e. to ensure favourable conservation status for all habitats and species of European importance and adequate populations of naturally occurring wild bird species.

Other challenges that also need to be met include safeguarding the funding required to look after the network and ensure that it works well in practice, guaranteeing that the network works equally well in all Member States, and addressing the issue of fragmentation.

17. How will the strategy ensure full implementation of Birds and Habitats Directives?

The strategy sets a deadline of 2012 for completing the establishment phase of the Natura 2000 network. Although the Habitats Directive is not time-bound, completion of the network is essential to ensure adequate protection of species and habitats of EU conservation concern and therefore to meeting the EU headline target. Measures under other targets will also contribute to the Natura 2000 network: the Green Infrastructure initiative under target 2, for example, will increase connectivity between Natura 2000 sites and their resilience, and financial incentives for Natura 2000 sites under the Common Agricultural Policy (target 3) and the Common Fisheries Policy (target 4) will also strengthen the network.

18. Does the strategy include plans to further expand the Natura 2000 network of protected areas?

The designation of Natura 2000 terrestrial sites is nearly complete, with 18% of EU territory covered. As such, the EU has already met the global 2020 target of having at least 17% of terrestrial and inland water conserved through protected areas. However, if the EU is to reach the global target of protecting at least 10% of coastal and marine areas, more efforts will be needed in the marine environment. At present, just over 4% of EU marine areas are part of the Natura 2000 network.

19. Are protected areas, such as Natura 2000, effective?

Targeted conservation actions have been shown to be effective. The Birds Directive, for example, has brought significant improvements by protecting many of Europe's most threatened birds from further decline, and the 2009 Habitats Directive health check has confirmed that conservation action has led some emblematic species such as the wolf, Eurasian lynx, beaver and otter to re-colonize parts of their traditional range. However, further progress is needed regarding the designation of marine areas and the proper management of Natura 2000 sites, for which development of management plans have proved to be an effective tool.

20. Why does the strategy emphasise the need to work beyond protected areas?

Ecosystems outside protected areas provide essential services that need to be protected and restored. Halting biodiversity loss also requires key pressures on biodiversity to be addressed in parallel, and the EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss also needs to be considered.

21. Why does the strategy call for restoring 15% of ecosystems in the EU?

The EU 2020 headline target for biodiversity calls for restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services in so far as feasible. As a Party to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the EU has also signed up to a global target requiring that at least 15% of degraded ecosystems are restored. Ecosystem restoration is likely to be cost-beneficial, in particular given the climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits of many ecosystems.

22. Which ecosystems and services should be restored?

The strategy proposes that a strategic framework be developed by Member States, assisted by the Commission, to set priorities for ecosystem restoration at EU, national and sub-national level by 2014. This framework will be underpinned by knowledge generated by efforts to map and assess the state of ecosystems and their services in the EU, which is the aim of another action under Target 2.

23. What is Green Infrastructure and why is it needed?

The EU is one of the most highly fragmented regions in the world. 30% of the land is moderately-high to very highly fragmented due to urban sprawl and infrastructure development. Fragmentation affects the connectivity and health of ecosystems and their ability to provide services. Green Infrastructure can be used to help overcome these challenges by re-establishing connections between natural areas that have been fragmented by infrastructure development, agriculture or urban sprawl, for example, creating ecological corridors to link up protected areas and using nature-based approaches that deliver multiple benefits like addressing climate change and restoring marshlands to protect against flooding. Green Infrastructure increases the resilience of ecosystems and helps ensure the sustainable provision of ecosystem goods and services, while maintaining habitats for species.

24. Why do we need a specific target for agriculture and forests?

72% of land in the EU is used for farming and forestry, yet the state of biodiversity in forest and agro-ecosystems is unsatisfactory. Only 7% of assessed habitats and 3% of species dependent on agro-ecosystems are in favourable conservation status. For forests, the figures are 21% and 15% respectively. Farmland bird populations have decreased by around 50% since 1980, but have levelled off since the mid 1990s, whereas farmland butterfly populations have decreased 70% since 1990 and show no sign of recovery. The CAP Health Check identified biodiversity loss as a new challenge for EU agriculture policy, and in a recent Communication the Commission underscored the need to green the CAP in the context of the current reform. Additionally, one of the main reasons for failing to meet the 2010 biodiversity target was the inadequate integration of biodiversity concerns into other sectoral policies. By addressing agriculture, forestry, and fisheries within a prioritised framework, the strategy articulates a cooperative approach as these policies undergo reforms.

25. How does the strategy propose to tackle these challenges?

The actions included under Target 3 are aimed at increasing the positive contribution of agriculture and forestry to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity. For agriculture, actions involve better targeting rural development to biodiversity conservation objectives, and conserving Europe's agricultural genetic diversity. Forest-related actions will incentivise forest holders to adopt management plans which integrate pro-biodiversity measures, and foster innovative mechanisms to finance the maintenance and restoration of ecosystem services provided by multifunctional forests.

Engaging and incentivising farmers and forest holders for the delivery of the biodiversity objectives will allow them to pool forces with non-governmental organisations and will highlight the public contribution of semi-subsistence farmers, small family farmers and organic farmers, which are often a crucial basis for the social fabric of many regions. This will make extensive and low input rural areas more dynamic and more attractive to young farmers, slowing depopulation in rural areas and land abandonment.

26. Why do we need a specific target for fisheries?

In spite of the 2002 reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), overfishing has not been effectively addressed, as 88% of EU stocks are still fished beyond maximum sustainable yield. The average size of fish has also been steadily declining over the last 20 years. Global fisheries are also overexploited, and the cumulative economic loss to the global economy over the last three decades is estimated to be in the order of USD 2 trillion. There is also enormous waste, with by-catch (unused catch) amounting to 38 million tonnes/year or 40% of total catch. Unsustainable fishing practices also have negative impacts on other non-targeted marine species, habitats and ecosystems.

27. What does the strategy propose for fisheries?

The actions included under Target 4 are aimed at improving the management of fished stocks so as to ensure Maximum Sustainable Yield in all areas where EU fishing fleets operate, and eliminating adverse impacts of fishing activities on the broader marine environment, including by taking action to progressively eliminate discard practices and by-catch of unwanted species and providing financial incentives for fishermen to engage in activities that support implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which requires the achievement of good environmental status (GES) of marine waters by 2020.

Ensuring the sustainable use of fish resources is a clear prerequisite for the viability of the fisheries sector, and will prevent the collapse of stocks. Improving sustainability would also allow the development of larger fish stocks, leading to the possibility of more fishing at lower cost and with a higher unit value.

28. What are invasive alien species (IAS) and why are they a problem?

Alien species are plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms that have become established in an area outside their natural range. Not all alien species are harmful, but some spread rapidly and compete against native species, or spread diseases and thus become invasive alien species (IAS). They are a major cause of biodiversity loss in the EU and throughout the world, causing significant damage to the environment, human health and the economy. Examples include the American bullfrog, which out-competes native frog species, musk rats that damage infrastructure, and allergy-causing ragweed. It has been estimated that the costs associated with IAS in Europe amount to some €12.5 billion annually, in terms of health care and animal health costs, crop yield losses, fish stock losses, damage to infrastructure, damage to the navigability of rivers, damage to protected species and so forth.

29. What instruments are already available in the EU to tackle IAS?

The EU already has legislation to address certain challenges posed by IAS, such as the use of alien and locally absent species in aquaculture.2 The EU Plant Health and Animal Health regimes include legislation that implements preventative measures to guard against the introduction and spread of organisms harmful to plants or plant products within the EU. However, there is currently no comprehensive approach to IAS at EU level.

30. What more is the Commission proposing to do to address the challenge posed by IAS?

As part of the biodiversity strategy, the EU aims to strengthen the EU Plant and Animal Health regimes and is proposing to develop a dedicated legislative instrument to fill remaining policy gaps, such as prevention (e.g. stopping new potentially invasive alien species from entering Europe), early warning and rapid response to ensure that a new invasion is spotted promptly and measures are taken to quickly stop and eradicate the new species, and control or containment of already established IAS.

31. Why should the EU do more to tackle global biodiversity loss and how does the strategy propose to achieve this?

The EU derives benefits from global biodiversity, as some of its services, such as climate mitigation and the provision of genetic resources for new cosmetics and medication, are global in nature. It also bears a degree of responsibility for global biodiversity loss. All Parties to the CBD, including the EU, are required to deliver on the objectives of the Convention and developed country Parties are obliged to support developing country Parties in fulfilling their commitments under the Convention.

The strategy includes actions aimed at reducing indirect drivers of biodiversity loss (e.g. unsustainable consumption patterns, market signal failure), mobilising additional financial resources for global biodiversity conservation; 'biodiversity proofing' EU development cooperation; and regulating access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their use.

32. Will the six targets be sufficient to meet the 2020 targets?

The six targets set out in the strategy are essential, but will not be sufficient on their own to enable the EU to reach either its 2020 headline target, or the 20 global targets agreed in Nagoya. The full implementation of existing EU environmental legislation in areas such as waste, chemicals, air, and water is also required. Meeting the EU and global targets requires a mix of EU, national and sub-national action. As Parties to the CBD in their own right, Member States are required to update or revise their national biodiversity strategies, as appropriate, in line with the 2020 targets adopted in Nagoya.

33. Why does the strategy not include targets for climate change or pollution?

The EU already has extensive policy and legislation in place to tackle climate change and the main sources of pollution. As such, they do not presently constitute major policy gaps. However, the review of the strategy planned for 2014 will take stock of progress in implementing not only the strategy itself but will also assess the contribution of other policies and measures that contribute towards biodiversity goals. The strategy may be adjusted, as necessary, to ensure that any identified gaps are filled.

34. What is the scientific basis for action?

The Commission has drawn on extensive scientific data and information to support the development of biodiversity policy. Key reports include those carried out to assess progress in implementing the 2006 BAP, the European Environment Agency's report on "Assessing biodiversity in Europe – the 2010 report", the United Nations Environment Progamme's 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) and the 3rd edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook. Several studies and reports were also commissioned specifically for this purpose, and the results of European research projects carried out under the EU research framework programmes were also drawn on. The full list of studies, reports and projects are found in the annex of the Impact Assessment accompanying the Communication.

35. Why does the strategy not include specific target for cohesion policy?

Although there is no dedicated target related to cohesion policy, the Strategy includes many actions to further integrate biodiversity protection concerns in that policy. Avoiding biodiversity damage from infrastructure development is a priority. Another priority is to maximise potential contribution of cohesion policy to biodiversity – e.g. through the promotion of ecosystem-based approaches – in support of more sustainable growth. Through multi-beneficial biodiversity related projects and the implementation of a 'no net loss' approach, cohesion policy can make a key contribution to enhancing connectivity and restoring ecosystems with important economic and social benefits.

36. What is the relation between the EU biodiversity strategy and other EU strategies?

The EU biodiversity strategy and its proper implementation is key to building a sustainable Europe, and by translating the resource efficiency flagship into action it contributes to the sustainable growth objective of the Europe 2020 Strategy. Fully valuing nature's potential will contribute to a number of the EU's strategic objectives, such as a more resource efficient economy, a more climate-resilient, low-carbon economy, leadership in research and innovation as well as the increase in new skills, jobs and business opportunities.

37. What is the role of the Member States?

The strategy proposes actions where the EU has most value-added and leverage. However, it is clear that without parallel action at Member State level, it will not be sufficient to deliver the target of halting biodiversity loss. Success in delivering the 2020 headline target will depend on a mixture of EU and national, regional or local measures, in line with the principle of subsidiarity. Actions may need to vary across Member States and from regions.

38. How will progress be measured?

The lack of a clear baseline against which to measure progress was a key shortcoming of EU biodiversity policy to date. The 2020 strategy is underpinned by a baseline which captures the state of biodiversity in the EU in 2010. Together with a set of existing indicators, which will be updated to reflect the new targets, the baseline will serve as an important reference for measuring and monitoring progress.

39. How will implementation be ensured?

Achieving the targets will require that they are adequately reflected in the relevant EU policies, including agriculture and rural development, fisheries, regional policy, and climate change. Since implementation will also be carried out at national and sub-national level, it will be important to ensure coordination between the various levels. For this purpose, the Commission will work with Member States to develop a common implementation framework involving all actors, sectors and institutions concerned and clearly setting out the roles and responsibilities of each in delivering the strategy.

40. Have stakeholders been consulted on the strategy?

EU institutions, Member States, civil society and the public at large have all been consulted at various stages of development of the strategy and, more generally, on the EU's post-2010 biodiversity policy, including the 2050 vision and 2020 headline target. As part of the consultation process, the Commission organised meetings with stakeholders and ran a public Internet consultation, which collected 2905 responses. The European Council, European Parliament, Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions all made their positions on the EU 2020 biodiversity policy known during the course of 2010.

41. What can businesses do?

For industry and consumers, biodiversity loss represents economic opportunities foregone, such as collapsing fish stocks or agricultural yields. The study on 'The Economy of Ecosystems and Biodiversity' (TEEB) estimates that business opportunities from investments in nature could be worth US$2-6 trillion by 2050, and recommends factoring the true economic value of biodiversity into decision-making and reflecting it in systems of national accounts. This will lead to more sustainable choices by consumers and producers. Industry and consumers need to find ways to use nature's assets sustainably, which also includes resource efficiency.

In summary, businesses need to better integrate biodiversity and ecosystem services into their management and risk assessment strategies, for example through:

* Research and innovation in the medical and cosmetic industry (e.g. for these industries genetic diversity is the main source of innovation, and may hold future solutions to numerous challenges, from food security to climate change);

* Biodiversity related measures in agriculture (e.g. water protection, permanent pasture, green cover, crop rotation, genetic diversity, ecological set-aside, Natura 2000, bees and butterflies);

* Sustainable forest management (e.g. deadwood minima, undisturbed tracts, diverse tree species);

* Achieving Maximum Sustainable Yield in fisheries (i.e. bringing catches down to sustainable levels, reducing by-catch, phasing out bottom trawling);

* Tackling water and atmospheric pollution (e.g. nitrogen and phosphates use, SO2 and NOx emissions, auto emissions).

Industry needs to play its role as partner with other stakeholders to find ways to improve performance on biodiversity (e.g. EU Business and Biodiversity (B@B) Platform, European Research and Innovation partnerships);

42. What can citizens do?

Citizens can help by bringing regard for biodiversity into their decision making. Examples include:

* Buying environmentally certified products (e.g. wood and fish);

* Bringing biodiversity criteria into public purchasing;

* Using green infrastructure (e.g. parks and waterways);

* Not purchasing invasive alien species

* Looking for local products to minimise the negative impacts of long-distance transport, reducing CO2 emissions and mitigating climate change.

43. What is the Commission doing to boost public awareness of biodiversity loss?

The European Commission launched a campaign to highlight awareness of biodiversity loss which won several awards, including a "European Excellence Award." The campaign, which is still running in all EU languages, has had considerable success. It stresses the interconnected nature of biodiversity and centres round the idea of loss, with striking visuals. Thousands of people have participated in live events and taken part in hands-on activities related to biodiversity. The website has had more than 3.5 million visits, the viral video has had at least 1.5 million views, and there are more than 55 000 active users of the biodiversity application on Facebook, with some 20 000 'fans' on Facebook for the campaign pages ().

44. What are the next steps?

Implementation should begin as soon as possible. The strategy will be reviewed in 2014 and adjustments made, if needed, so the EU remains on track.

The Commission will follow up different proposals and initiatives listed in the Strategy, including a separate strategy on Green Infrastructure, and legislative proposals on Invasive Alien Species and on access and benefit sharing in 2012.


1 : Eurobarometer survey

2 : Council Regulation (EC) No 708/2007 of 11 June 2007.

Source: European Commission