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Water-thinking In New EU Biodiversity Strategy For 2030

BRUSSELS, Belgium

The European Commission is set to present new, ambitious measures to address biodiversity challenges and promote a circular economy approach according to a draft document published 7 May by NGO Arc2020 in advance of the Strategy’s anticipated launch later this month.

The full draft (LINKED), with title “COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS - A new Circular Economy Action Plan - EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 - For a cleaner and more competitive Europe Bringing nature back into our lives” describes a number of water-related actions and approaches to biodiversity challenges:

Some Water-related Excerpts:

“Sustainable agricultural and fisheries practices will be promoted, including agroecology and agroforestry, climate-resilient and conservation agriculture, agro-biodiversity conservation and use, integrated landscape management, as well as watershed and marine management. Actions to protect, sustainably use and restore the world’s forests, including through forest partnerships, will be scaled up. Particular attention will also be paid to sustainable water resources management, the restoration of degraded land, the protection and restoration of wetlands, peatlands, mangroves, coral reefs, seagrass beds and other biodiverse areas with high ecosystem services and climate mitigation potential”.

Regarding restoration of freshwater ecosystems, the Communication describes the EU’s legal framework on water has having the right level of ambition to achieve the good status or potential of freshwater, transitional and coastal waters, “however implementation and enforcement must be stepped up…Greater efforts are required to restore freshwater ecosystems affected by pollution and hydro-morphological alterations. This includes restoring the natural functions of rivers by removing barriers that prevent the passage of migrating fish, improving the flow of water and sediments. It also means restoring riparian areas, wetlands and floodplains. At least 25,000 km of rivers will be restored into free-flowing rivers through the removal of barriers and the restoration of floodplains. Member States’ authorities should review water abstraction and impoundment permits to restore ecological flows in order to of achieve good status or potential of all surface waters and good status of all groundwater by 2027 at the latest…These measures should be planned in the 3rd River Basin Management Plans to be adopted by Member States in 2021, under the Water Framework Directive”.

“Large-scale river and floodplain restoration investments can provide a major economic boost for the restoration sector and for local socio-economic activities such as tourism and recreation, while at the same time enhancing ecosystem services such as water regulation, flood protection, fish nursery habitats and the removal of nutrient pollution”.

Regarding international cooperation, neighbourhood policy and resource mobilization, “Effective implementation of the future post-2020 global biodiversity framework will require greater cooperation with partner countries, and increased financing from all sources, as well as the phasing out of subsidies harmful to biodiversity…Existing measures must be increased, used more effectively, through the systematic mainstreaming of biodiversity. The principle of “do no harm” should be applied across all sectors, and the direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss should be tackled more effectively in the EU’s external policies”.

“(An) impact assessment will also explore the possibility to establish an EU-wide legally binding methodology and provisions to map, assess and achieve good condition of ecosystems’ in view of safeguarding their capacity to deliver services and provide benefits such as climate regulation, water regulation, soil health and pollination…To that end, the Commission will update the EU Soil Thematic Strategy in 2021 to achieve EU and international commitments on land degradation neutrality. Soil contamination, prevention and remediation will also be addressed as part of the Zero Pollution Action Plan for air, water and soil, to be adopted by the Commission in 2021”.

Conclusion:

The European Commission’s draft Communication concludes that “Protecting and restoring biodiversity is the only way to preserve the quality and continuity of human life on Earth. The commitments proposed in this strategy pave the way for ambitious and necessary changes – changes that will ensure the wellbeing and economic prosperity of present and future generations, living in a healthy environment that delivers the necessary services. These commitments will require a sense of responsibility and strong joint efforts from the EU, the Member States, stakeholders and citizens”.

“The Commission invites the European Parliament and the Council to endorse this Strategy and its Commitments ahead of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Commission will maintain the political ownership of the strategy by suggesting a standing progress point at the Environment Council and at the European Parliament”.

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