Nature matters

Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth. This web of living things is the heart of nature, cleaning the water we drink, pollinating our crops, purifying the air we breathe, regulating the climate, keeping our soils fertile, providing us with medicine, and providing many of the basic building blocks for industry.

Yet, we are losing nature like never before

All scientists agree - we are losing nature like never before, in all parts of the world. This loss is closely linked to climate change, and is part of a general ecological crisis. The effects of biodiversity loss are already here and they will get worse if the trend continues.

Did you know?

  • Human action has now significantly altered three quarters of the land-based environment and two thirds of the marine environment.
  • Extracting and processing materials, fuels and food is the reason behind 90% of biodiversity loss and half of all greenhouse gas emissions.
  • It would now take 1.6 Earths to meet the demands we make on nature each year.

So why are we losing biodiversity?

Habitat loss, over-exploitation, climate change, pollution and invasive alien species all contribute to biodiversity loss. But the underlying cause is unsustainable human activities. Our demand for new resources is driving deforestation, changing patterns of land use, and destroying natural habitats all around the globe.  

In Europe, the main cause of biodiversity loss is land-use change. Farming and forestry practices have become more intensive, with more chemical additives, fewer spaces between fields, and fewer varieties of crops. This lack of variety means far fewer insects, for example, and consequently fewer birds.

Cities and urban areas have also expanded enormously, leaving less room for nature. And when farmland and urban developments leave no room for nature, the result is a loss of biodiversity.

But does it really matter?

Biodiversity loss is dangerous to our society and to our economy. It is…

  • a business issue, because natural capital provides essential resources for industry
  • a security issue, because loss of natural resources, especially in developing countries, can lead to conflict
  • a climate issue, because destroying natural habitats speeds up global warming
  • a food security issue, because pollinators play a vital role in our food system
  • an ethical issue, because loss of biodiversity hurts the poorest most of all, making inequalities worse
  • an intergenerational issue, because we are robbing our descendants of a vital resource
  • a moral issue, because we should not destroy the living planet
  • a health issue because nature improves air quality, reduces exposure to pollutants, and cools our cities

Did you know?

  • Up to 300 million people already face a higher risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
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How can we stop this loss?

Scientists say that the next 10 years are critical. We need deep changes in the way we live, from our energy system and the way we use land, to buildings, cities, transport and food, to reach near-net-zero emissions reduction by 2050 or earlier. The European Green Deal is the EU response to this crisis.

Most of the required technologies already exist, but we need to use them more widely. We need to implement them quickly, use cleaner energy sources, cut deforestation, manage land better and switch to sustainable agriculture.  More businesses need to realise that they depend on natural resources for food, fibres, and building material. They need to adopt models for consumption and production that support the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

What is Europe doing to solve the problem?

As part of the New Green Deal, Europe is making a firm commitment to three priorities in a new biodiversity strategy: protecting biodiversity from future harm, restoring damage where it has already suffered, and ensuring that a concern for biodiversity is a central feature of all other relevant policy areas.

Internationally, the EU is a major supporter of biodiversity protection and the sustainable use of natural resources. It engages more than 350 million euros per year on biodiversity in developing countries through programmes directly focused on biodiversity and programmes on mainstreaming biodiversity in other sectors. E.g. in 2018, the EU funded 66 protected areas in 27 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Europe is aiming for world leaders to agree an overall target to protect biodiversity in Kunming, China, in spring 2021. This will be the equivalent of the Paris 1.5° goal. This 15th meeting of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD COP 15) will review progress towards the world’s current biodiversity targets, and raise the level of ambition for the next ten years.

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WHAT CAN I DO?


Citizens

 

Businesses

Many companies now recognise the importance of assessing, valuing and accounting for their impact and their dependence on natural capital and ecosystem services. They understand how this can help them assess financial risk, and equip them with a comprehensive sustainability metric for the 21st century.

The advantages for businesses include:

  • long-term viability of business models
  • cost savings
  • increases in operational efficiency
  • increased market share
  • access to new markets, products and services
  • predictable and stable supply chains, and  
  • better relationships with stakeholders and customers.

European financial frontrunners are developing methodologies to measure their impacts at a portfolio level.
More companies need to adopt models for consumption and production that support the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. A biodiversity-friendly approach will generate goodwill with customers, bringing new commercial opportunities for all.

Join the business and biodiversity platform and learn from their experience: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/biodiversity/business/index_en.htm

 

Cities

Participate in EU Green Week!

Numerous events around Europe will take place between mid-September and October. They will look at various challenges related to nature and biodiversity.

These events will provide you with an opportunity to exchange views, to learn and to have a say on the issues that are important to you. Why not participate in an event near you or join #EUGreenWeek on social media?

You can also follow the Brussels Conference via webstreaming.

Our principal priority is the health, safety and wellbeing of our speakers, moderators, exhibitors and participants, and so we have been monitoring the situation concerning the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak constantly. Due to the current situation and restrictions, it has been decided that EU Green Week 2020 will be available exclusively online.

You will have the opportunity to join the EU Green Week in a new immersive virtual experience. Not only will you be able to watch all the sessions live and interact with the speakers, but you will also have the possibility to explore the exhibitions and network with the other attendants just as if you were there !
The virtual event platform will be soon open - all you have to do is to register and you will gain access to the event from your home or office.
If you are interested in attending the virtual event, you can leave your e-mail address here and we will contact you as soon as the registration platform is available.