Commission presents 'options' for 2020 biodiversity targets

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Recognising its failure to deliver on a target of halting biodiversity loss in the EU by 2010, the EU executive yesterday (19 January) tabled policy options for a new 2020 target. The options range from scaling down previous ambitions to stepping up the EU's contribution to halting global biodiversity loss.

In a communication, the Commission outlined four policy options for EU action after 2010. 

The first option aims to slow the rate of biodiversity loss in Europe by 2020, while accepting that stopping it completely is "unattainable for the foreseeable future".

The second option proposes to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services by 2020. This was the original EU objective for 2010. 

The third option mirrors the second, but with an extra commitment to restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services "as far as possible". 

The fourth option is the third option, coupled with efforts to step up the EU's contribution to address global biodiversity loss.

Vision 2050

The Commission indicated that all options would set "a mid-term target" towards reaching a "2050 vision". According to this vision, biodiversity and ecosystem services are "preserved, valued and, insofar as possible, restored for their intrinsic value" so that they can continue to support economic prosperity and human well-being.

The vision reflects a drive to highlight the role of biodiversity in the achievement of other policy objectives, such as food security, climate change and sustaining a number of economic sectors like fisheries and tourism. 

A recent study on the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) underlined that biodiversity loss has direct economic repercussions that are widely underestimated, and that the cost of nature conservation is by far outweighed by societal and economic benefits (EurActiv 16/11/09). 

The report urged international policymakers to scale-up investments in the management and restoration of ecosystems and to value the economic capital of nature in decision-making. 

UN intergovernmental platform

Stavros Dimas, the EU's outgoing environment commissioner, confirmed before the December 2009 international climate talks in Copenhagen that the EU executive would be pushing for the establishment of a UN intergovernmental platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services in 2010.

Such a platform "would enhance the credibility of future biodiversity strategies," he said.

Timeline: 
  • 2010: International Year of Biodiversity.
  • 26-27 Jan. 2010: Spanish EU Presidency conference on 'Post-2010 Biodiversity Vision and Target'.
  • October 2010: International negotiations on a new global post-2010 biodiversity vision and target, in Nagoya, Japan.
  • By end of 2010: Commission to present an EU biodiversity strategy.
  • 2010: Commission hopes to establish an Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
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