Posted on 26 September 2016
Statements from the EEB's Annual Conference 2016
Vienna – At the 2016 Annual Conference of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) “FROM SUSTAINABILITY TALK TO POLICY WALK: Stepping up EU action on Climate, Biodiversity and Circular Economy”
, Andreas Beckmann, Director of WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme, talked about translating sustainability principles into concrete policies, and brought insights about biodiversity and circular economy to the plenary discussions.
Biodiversity is fundamental to achieving a circular economy
People are becoming increasingly aware of the plethora of goods and services that nature gives them for free. We depend on many of these services for our lives – from fish and fowl to wood, clean air and water as well as essential services such as water management and flood control. Andreas Beckmann explains the circular economy:
“I have found the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s “butterfly diagram” to be a useful framework for explaining a circular economy. While much of the focus on circular economy has been on the loops of technical and biological inputs and nutrients – the “butterfly” – the First Principle focuses on preserving and enhancing natural capital.”
The EC Communication on Circular Economy is missing biodiversity.
According to Beckmann, the EC policy gives insufficient attention to the origin of resources, to ensure that the resources that we source do not exacerbate biodiversity loss. Completely missing from the Communication is any mention of biodiversity and the role that it plays in securing essential ecosystem goods and services.
Preserving and enhancing natural capital missing
Fortunately, there are very good EU legislation and policies already in place that can secure biodiversity, including a biodiversity strategy, Communication on green infrastructure, and, especially, the EU Birds and Habitats Directives – the cornerstone of EU conservation legislation and policy.
But the importance of that legislation to the Circular Economy needs to be recognised and its implementation significantly stepped up.
We need to take action – urgently!
At least 60% of species listed under the Habitat Directive are in an unfavourable state, according to the European Commission’s 2015 report. Nearly half of habitats listed under the same directive are deteriorating.
“We urgently need to move on and to focus on implementing this legislation and related measures. We need to fully implement the Birds and Habitats Directives, and secure for this adequate financing. We need to effectively enforce existing EU laws affecting nature protection. We need to integrate biodiversity across sectors”
, Beckmann explained.
- In agriculture, we need to reform our agricultural system – we need to undertake a Fitness Check of the Common Agricultural Policy and propose a new food and farming policy for the EU that is finally environmentally and socially sustainable.
- In infrastructure development, we need a legal and financial framework for large-scale green infrastructure projects across the EU Trans-European Network of Green Infrastructure (EU TEN-G) Initiative;
- In climate and energy policies, we need to ensure that new EU 2030 policies include robust biodiversity safeguards, push Member States toward sound strategic planning, transition away from fossil fuels and avoid increasing the ecological footprint of the EU economy.
Biodiversity is very clearly a cornerstone for a new Europe, and in more ways than one – fundamental to both limiting and adapting to climate change, fundamental to achieving a circular economy, and fundamental to re-kindling citizen support.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is the largest federation of environmental citizens’ organisations in Europe aiming to ensure that the EU secures a healthy environment and rich biodiversity for all. The organization stands for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy.
It currently consists of over 150 member organisations in more than 30 countries (virtually all EU Member States plus some accession and neighbouring countries), including a growing number of European networks, and representing some 15 million individual members and supporters.
EEB works on a vast array of environmental issues including activities concerning biodiversity and nature, climate and energy, governance, industry and health, and sustainability.
Official website: http://www.eeb.org/