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Special - EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, the plan announced in Brussels

On 20.5.20 the European Commission - as well as communicating the EU Strategy Farm to Fork, to which we have already dedicated a deepening presented the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy. In-depth analysis and notes on the plan announced in Brussels.

EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, introduction

The European 2030 Biodiversity Strategy aspires to safeguard nature, reverse the trend towards ecosystem degradation and prevent further zoonoses (of which Covid-19 is the latest example). Through the introduction of binding targets, complementary to those announced with the strategy Farm to Fork and new Common Agricultural Policy (PAC). In the broader context of the Green Deal European.

The 'aspirational' goal, indicated in the title of the Communication, is'Bringing nature back into our lives'(Bringing back Nature in our lives). With the idea of ​​defining new ways of implementing the (weak) European regulations already in force. To which add new commitments, measures, objectives and mechanisms governance. To put European biodiversity back on the road to recovery, better late than never, by 2030.

The global crisis of biodiversity, which the FAO reports annually, it's out of control. As well as the three main causes, anthropogenic, of its loss:

- unprecedented exploitation of soils and reservoirs,

- climate changes,

- pollution.

Biodiversity and Covid-19

Covid-19 he simply highlighted the fragility of the system. By bringing out, once again, the structural problems of food safety e water security.

Zoonosis the origin of the new coronavirus, like the others that preceded it, derives, moreover, from the alteration of natural balances. Whereas bats - whose global population is estimated to represent 20% of the planet's mammals - have 'urbanized' as a result of the degradation of their habitat natural. (3) The political program under consideration should therefore draw resources, inter alia, from the much awaited and debated recovery plan.

Loss of biodiversity, data and impacts

The loss of biodiversity and ecosystem collapse has peaked over the past 40 years, with an estimated -60% drop in wildlife populations. Nearly three-quarters of the earth's surface has been altered by humans and around 1 million species are threatened with extinction in the coming decades. The loss of biodiversity has an impact on several spheres:

- climate. The devastation of soils and ecosystems is closely linked to the climate emergency.

As already noted by IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is WMO (World Meteorological Organization). As an obvious consequence, among other things, of the scarcity of soils and primary forests that absorb and store CO2,

- economy and social security. Natural capital provides essential and renewable resources, when managed responsibly, to agriculture and industry. The loss of natural resources is, on the other hand, a cause of vulnerability and conflicts, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC, Low-Middle Income Countries),

- food security. Irresponsible land management is also a cause of land deprivation (land grabbing) and food to the detriment of large sections of the population. These phenomena are aggravated by the climate emergency and by the genocide of pollinating insects, to whose protection is dedicated, among other things, theEuropean citizens' initiative Save the Bees!,

- public health. A healthy society cannot ignore the preservation of ecosystems. The destruction of nature in fact increases the risk of disease and reduces human resilience, also due toabuse of pesticides. In addition to depriving individuals of the beneficial effects of nature on mental health and well-being,

- equity. The loss of biodiversity, like natural disasters, systematically afflicts the poorest countries and the most vulnerable sections of the population, starting with children.

Biodiversity and zoonoses

The pressure exerted on the environment by unsustainable food chains - such as palm oil, GMO soybeans and American meats, prime causes of land grabbing and planetary ecocides - exposes communities to growing risks related to zoonotic diseases.

Illegal trade (or poorly regulated) of wild animals, even in the so-called wet market, must also be contained to reduce the dangerous promiscuity between wild animal species and humans. 'This trade contributes to the exhaustion or extinction of entire species, is the fourth most profitable black market in the world and is believed to be one of the causes behind the emergence of zoonotic diseases. Dismantling it is a human, economic and environmental duty'. (1)

The Commission pledges to review the European action plan against wildlife trafficking in 2021. And to propose further tightening of EU ivory trade rules by the end of the year. Other actions concern:

- therepossible'' revision of the Environmental Crime Directive,

- strengthening the role of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF),

- support for the approach OneHealth, in WHO (World Health Organization), to holistically address the challenges relating to human, animal and environmental health.

Costs and opportunities

Inaction on environmental and climate issues, it is not sustainable, neither on a social nor an economic level. Frequent extreme weather events will lead to a significant reduction in the average GDP in the EU. With reduced yields in agriculture and fisheries, as well as greater economic losses due to floods and other natural disasters. And more damage related to antibiotic resistance.

The restoration on the other hand, nature could generate up to 500 new jobs. In addition to stimulating agriculture, (bio) construction, food production and tourism. To this end, the European executive promises to invest in the protection of protected areas, with the following objectives by 2030:

- protected areas should reach 30% of the earth's surface and 30% of the seas in the EU,

- at least one third of protected areas, including all ancient and primary forests survived the Anthropocene era it should be managed more effectively. By defining objectives, conservation and monitoring measures,

- the cd 'ecological corridors' will be integrated, in order to establish atrans-European natural network'.

EU nature restoration plan

Lo EU Nature Restoration Plan indicates the commitment to implement concrete change that goes beyond the mandate of the current European Commission (2019-2024). With the purposes set out below, to be realized (ideally) by 2030:

1) legally binding objectives for restoring the nature of the EU, to be proposed in 2021 after an impact assessment. With the idea of ​​restoring at least 2030% of 'significant areas'in degraded and carbon-rich ecosystems,

2) pollinators, reversal of the declining trend,

3) chemical pesticides, reduction of consumption and related risks by 50%, also valid for the most dangerous pesticides,

4) high diversity 'of landscape features', to be established in at least 10% of the utilized agricultural area (UAA),

5) agroecology, extension of organic farming to at least 25% of the UAA,

6) new trees, three billion to be planted 'in full compliance with ecological principles’,

7) contaminated sites, remediation,

8) free flowing rivers, restoration of at least 25 thousand km,

9) invasive alien species, reduction in the number of threatened species (-50%),

10) fertilizers, reduction of consumption (-20%) and nutrient losses (-50%),

(11) ambitious urban greening plans, for cities with at least 20 inhabitants,

12) sensitive areas (e.g. urban green areas), ban on the use of chemical pesticides,

13) aquatic environments, substantial reduction of negative impacts on sensitive species and habitats (including the seabed),

14) by-catch, elimination or reduction to a level that allows the recovery and conservation of the species.


The EU plan of restoration of nature recalls the objective of encouraging organic farming, in the context of systems based onagroecology. It refers to agro-forestry, permanent low-intensity grazing, stricter standards of animal welfare.

Le lobby of agricultural machinery have obtained the citation in this context ofprecision farming. With the clear objective of attracting public funding 'inspired' by biodiversity, although the technologies in question also lend themselves to divergent objectives.

The timing of implementation they will certainly not be short, as the reform proposals will be adopted in the following years. As already foreseen in the strategy Farm to Fork (f2f). The same reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP) - where expected eco-schemes and ecological performance based payment schemes - yet to be discussed ed presumably will come into force on 1.1.23.

Biodiversity, the governance that is missing

Biodiversity it still lacks a system of governance. That is to say that the EU Member States - beyond the purely formal obligations to implement the regulations and transpose the directives - are in fact free from constraints on the effective implementation of the commitments adopted. The same 'polluter pays' criterion, theoretically based on European environmental legislation, is essentially devoid of experience and application tools.

The bizarre application of the NAPs (National Action Plans on Pesticides) - as Égalité Onlus has already reported, alongside the 'No Pesticides' Group - is a resounding example of the non-application of regulations that are crucial for the protection of the environment and public health. With shameful paradoxes like that of the Tuscany Region, where the 'use plan for the sustainable use of plant protection products and fertilizers (PUFF) 'in' conservation areas'admits the use of 183 pesticides close to water bodies, wells and springs used to draw drinking water' (!). (5)

Brussels it therefore undertakes to guarantee the effective application of environmental legislation and, 'where necessary', to review and revise it. (6) Without forgetting the Natura 2000 network, still awaiting completion and effective management of all sites, with specific measures to protect habitat and species showing declining trends. The Commission also promises to support the role of civil society, as'compliance observer', and improve the access of individuals and NGOs to environmental justice in the courts.

Globally, the EU has a responsibility to actively contribute to the ongoing work at the Conference on Biological Diversity (COP 15). There Resolution 16.1.20 of the European Parliamentin fact, he had already indicated some of the objectives that have been taken up in this strategy. Where it is also proposed to share good intentions at the level of finance, infrastructure development, research and know-how, technology, 'a fair and equitable sharing of the benefits deriving from the use of genetic resources related to biodiversity'.

Toxic treaties

The good words they are not missing. The European Commission today declares that it wants to 'evaluate better'' the impact on biodiversity of international partnership agreements already concluded, subordinate new treaties to its compliance, accompany the ecological transition in low-middle-income countries (Low-Middle Income Countries, LMIC). Also pledging to recognize the role of non-state actors and of indigenous groups.

The negotiations existing with theIndonesia and USA - as well as the recent treaties with i Mercosur countries, Singapore, Canada e Japan they should therefore be revised, if the words had any meaning.

Unsustainable raw materials

Within the 2021 a legislative proposal and other measures will be presented to prevent or minimize the entry into the internal market of products associated with deforestation or forest degradation. Delete from supply chain the products that derive from the blood supply chains and set on fire is just as much as a coalition of associations, on the initiative of Égalité Onlus and GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade), they cry out. But the Commission's pitfall is already clear between the lines, where it refers to 'promote forest-friendly imports and value chains'.

Le lobby of the giants that speculate on palm oil, GM soybeans and American meats will therefore have already agreed on the recognition of their certificates, self-referential and false, of sustainability. It is no coincidence, moreover, that the Commission refers to the idea of ​​introducing an initiative on governance of the Corporation on human rights, environmental protection and duty due diligence within the supply chain. Eye does not see, crime does not pay. Affirming the responsibility of corporations for the crimes committed upstream of their supply chains is indispensable. #StopCorporateImpunity!

From words to deeds

On 30.5.20 Germany - home of the President of the European Commission Ursula von Der Leyen - has inaugurated a new coal-fired power plant. Datteln 4, in the Ruhr area, lander of North Rhine-Westphalia, will boost the CO2 emissions of the (coal) locomotive of Europe, already responsible for 22% of emissions in the EU. (7) Much of the trillionaire's resources Green Deal European is indeed destined to finance the conversion of the German (and Polish) power plants, while in the meantime it perseveres at everyone's expense. European solidarity?

The CD Action Plan, the action plan annexed to the Communication in question, includes 39 initiatives. These in turn include complex activities, such as the action plan for the conservation of fish stocks and the protection of marine ecosystems. And they are added to the 27 reforms envisaged by the strategy Farm to Fork where among other things we applaud the new GMOs, the antithesis of biodiversity. From words to deeds, let's keep our guard up.

Dario Dongo and Giulia Torre

Footnotes to the story

(1) Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 Bringing nature back into our lives. COM (2020) 380 final. Brussels, 20.5.20, https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/communication-annex-eu-biodiversity-strategy-2030_en.pdf 

(2) Dario Dongo et al. (2020). COVID-19, abc, the trilogy (Volume I - People, II - Society, III - Planet), on https://www.egalite.org/covid-19-abc-i-nostri-ebook-sul-nuovo-coronavirus/.

(3) Intergovernmental science-policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) (2019). Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. pp. 12-13, A.2

(4) WHO. One Health, Q&A. 21.9.17, https://www.who.int/features/qa/one-health/en/  

(5) Tuscany Region, DPGR n. 43 / R / 2018. Implementation regulation of the regional law 28.12.11 n. 69, article 28. Still awaiting the ruling of the TAR of Tuscany, to which the environmentalist associations and organic agriculture have turned in 2018. Shame!

(6) Some examples:

-dir. 2014/52 / EU, environmental impact assessment of certain public and private projects,

-dir. 2001/42 / EC, evaluation of the effects of certain plans and programs on the environment,

-dir. 2004/35 / EC, environmental responsibility regarding the prevention and reparation of environmental damage,

-dir. 2008/99 / EC, criminal protection of the environment

(6) Dario Dongo. Brazilian meat, the weight of the Amazon in our dishes. Buycott! GIFTS (Great Italian Food Trade), one, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/consum-attori/carne-brasiliana-il-peso-dell-amazzonia-nei-nostri-piatti-buycott

(7) Climate activists protest Germany's new Datteln 4 coal power plant. DW extension. 30.5.20, https://www.dw.com/en/climate-activists-protest-germanys-new-datteln-4-coal-power-plant/a-53632887

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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Graduated in law, master in European Food Law, she deals with agro-food, veterinary and agricultural legislation. She is a PhD student at the AGRISYSTEM School for the Agri-food System, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, with a thesis on novel food.

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