Today's proposal by the European Commission of a single external action financing instrument for "Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation" (NDICI) which will determine the spending priorities for the EU’s external relations and development cooperation budget for the time after 2020, falls short of the EU's stated ambition of championing the implementation of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and of the Paris Agreement, as agreed in the EU Consensus on Development a year ago.
The Commission acknowledges the need for mainstreaming climate change and environmental protection across the whole instrument, as well as the need to address interlinkages between Sustainable Development Goals. However it fails to properly reflect these commitments in the objectives that the new instrument is set to deliver. Moreover, the proposal fails to recognise the urgency of tackling environmental degradation and biodiversity loss globally, in the context of climate change, as essential elements of promoting human well-being and long-term sustainable development.
In fact, despite an overall welcome increase for EU's external action to 123bn, with 89.2bn dedicated to the NDICI, climate relevant expenditure is set to account for only a modest 25% of the overall budget of the instrument without sufficiently integrating the environmental dimension. WWF had called for a spending target of 50% for climate and environment related priorities to promote actions that can deliver multiple benefits across a range of sectors.
The proposal includes reduced funding for thematic programmes and global public goods, increased flexibility and reserves, and focus on strategic geographies and priorities. For WWF, this is problematic as it means that environmental objectives risks being deprioritised.
"The proposed external instrument is disappointing from an environmental perspective. Nature loss and climate change are two sides of the same ecological crisis facing the world today, and must be tackled together. Developing countries, especially Least Developed Countries, are particularly exposed and vulnerable to such challenges. Investing in healthy ecosystems is one of the best way to strengthen the resilience of societies and economies, including to climate change impacts,” said Margherita Solca, Senior EU Development Policy and Funding Officer, WWF European Policy Office.
“It is now up to the European Parliament and Member States to match the EU’s moral obligation and international commitment to the Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement, and put the EU Consensus into practice by allocating significant financial support to both environment and climate related priorities across the future NDICI.