EU announces new strategy to achieve 2020 biodiversity targets

The European commission yesterday proposed a new strategy to achieve the 2020 biodiversity targets by incorporating the valuation of natural capital. The new strategy, which is based on a report by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), states that the economic value of ecosystems in Europe must be factored into decision making at all levels.

This announcement follows the failure of the European Union to achieve the 2010 biodiversity target to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity within Europe. It has become clear that current legislation is ineffective with only 11% of protected ecosystems in a favourable status despite the wide range of efforts deployed to protect nature, and the establishment of an extensive network of protected areas (Natura 2000). The new strategy blames, among other causes, lack of consideration for the economic value of biodiversity for the failure to meet past targets.

TEEB has estimated that the economic cost of loosing biodiversity dwarfs the cost of adequate protection. For example over fishing costs the fisheries industry over $50 billion annually. Janez Potočnik the EU environment commissioner stated that “It is a much smarter economic investment to protect the diversity of life and healthy ecosystems than face tragedy once diversity has been lost,”

The 2020 target to halt the loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystem services has been divided into six main goals covering the protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services, improving the contribution of agriculture forestry and fisheries to conservation, and addressing the worldwide biodiversity crisis.

Europe plans to achieve these goals by:
• Building on the biodiversity knowledge base by identifying research gaps, contributing to the intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and establishing a monitoring and review procedure for the strategy.
• Setting up market based mechanisms to attract funding for the protection of ecosystem services, and to encourage projects that deliver multiple benefits.
• Establish a coherent message about biodiversity in the common agricultural policy, fisheries policy and water framework directive.
• Interacting with a wide variety of stakeholders through the EU business and biodiversity platform to help share successful initiatives and best practice.
• Engaging civil society in the hope they will become actively involved in achieving the targets.

TEEB estimates that this strategy could create new jobs and business opportunities worth 2 to 6 trillion dollars by 2050.

The full communication can be seen here.