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#EUNatureActionPlan - Revised guidance on managing protected Natura 2000 areas

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As part of the EU Action Plan for Nature, People and the Economy, the European Commission has published an updated guidance for member states' authorities, stakeholders and EU citizens on how to conserve and manage Natura 2000 network of protected areas.

Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Commissioner Karmenu Vella said: “With this updated guidance document we're helping to ensure that EU nature laws deliver for nature, people and the economy. The sound management of the Natura 2000 sites is essential for the maintenance and enhancement of our European biodiversity, ecosystems and the services they provide on which some 4.4 million jobs in the EU are directly dependent. I trust that this document will be of great use for the management of Natura 2000 sites, helping to better reconcile nature protection with different economic activities for the broader benefit of society."

Natura 2000 established under the EU's Birds Directive and Habitats Directive is a EU-wide network of over 27 500 terrestrial and marine sites covering more than 18 % of land area and is the centrepiece of the EU's nature and biodiversity policy.

While national and regional authorities are primarily responsible for the implementation of EU nature legislation, today's guidance provides added clarity to help member states to improve application of provisions around permitting procedures (Article 6 of the Habitats Directive). Through clear and accessible explanations, the Commission anticipates to reduce administrative burdens, streamline procedures across member states, and enhance overall implementation on the ground for the benefit of nature, people and the economy.

More information is available in the news item.

Biodiversity

Public hearing on link between biodiversity loss and pandemics such as COVID-19 

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The Parliament hearing on 'Facing the sixth mass extinction and increasing risk of pandemics: What role for the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030' will be held today (14 January).

Organized by the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the hearing will address the loss of biodiversity and the extent to which this increases the risk of pandemics due to change in land use, climate change and wildlife trade. The role that the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 could play in countering biodiversity loss and in increasing the EU’s and the global commitment to biodiversity will be discussed.

Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Executive Secretary Dr Anne  Larigauderie and European Environment Agency Executive Director Dr Hans Bruyninckx will open the public hearing.

The detailed programme is available here.

You can follow the hearing live here from 9h today.

EU biodiversity strategy for 2030

On Thursday afternoon, Members will discuss the draft report by rapporteur César Luena (S&D, ES) which responds to the Commission's Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and welcomes the level of ambition in the strategy. The draft report underlines that all main direct drivers of change in nature must be addressed and expresses concern about soil degradation, the impact of climate change and the declining number of pollinators. It also addresses the issues of funding, mainstreaming and the governance framework for biodiversity, calls for a Green Erasmus programme focused on restoration and conservation, and emphasises the need for international action, including with regard to ocean governance.

You can follow the committee meeting live here from 13h15.

More information 

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Biodiversity

One Planet Summit: President von der Leyen calls for ambitious, global and game-changing agreement on biodiversity

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On 11 January, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, took part in the ‘One Planet Summit' for biodiversity, via videoconference. In her speech, President von der Leyen emphasized that "2021 will be the year when the world turns over a new leaf for our planet” at the COP15 for nature in Kunming, in May this year. She called for an “ambitious, global and game-changing Paris-style agreement” to be drawn up at the COP15, since this concerns not only sustainable development, but also equality, security, and quality of life. The President reiterated Europe's willingness to show the way and bring as many partners as possible on board, while leading by action and ambition at home. President von der Leyen also spoke about the link between biodiversity loss and COVID-19: “If we don't urgently act to protect our nature, we may already be at the beginning of an era of pandemics. But we can do something about it. It needs concerted global action and local sustainable development. And just as we cooperate for our 'One Planet' we need to work together for our 'One Health'.”

Speaking at the summit hosted by France, the United Nations and the World Bank, Ursula von der Leyen set out how the Commission is working to preserve biodiversity: “This shows that turning over a new leaf for nature all comes down to local action and global ambition. This is why, with the European Green Deal, we are stepping up our own action and ambition - both locally and globally. And the new, greener Common Agricultural Policy will help us protect livelihoods and food security - while we protect our nature and our climate.” Finally, she reminded participants of Europe's “duty to ensure that our Single Market does not drive deforestation in local communities in other parts of the world.”

Watch the speech here, read it in full here. Learn more about the Commission's work to protect our planet's biodiversity here.

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Biodiversity

EU, Leonardo DiCaprio and Global Wildlife Conservation team-up to protect biodiversity

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The European Union, environmentalist and Academy Award®-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio and the Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) have launched two initiatives worth €34 million to better protect the planet in 2021. The first initiative is a Rapid Response for Ecosystems, Species and Communities Undergoing Emergencies (Rapid RESCUE) that will provide a quick answer to emerging biodiversity threats. The second aims to safeguard Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the most biodiverse protected area on the African continent, helping to reintroduce eastern lowland gorillas and other threatened species.

Both initiatives exemplify the EU's commitment to delivering the EU's Green Deal around the world and GWC's mission to conserve the diversity of life on Earth.

International Partnerships Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen said: “Biodiversity is under threat all over the world; the ongoing pandemic has only highlighted even more that protecting precious ecosystems is crucial for wildlife to flourish. Our own existence depends on this. I am glad GWC with Leonardo DiCaprio and the European Union are teaming up to increase our efforts in protecting biodiversity and securing a green recovery for people and planet after the COVID-19 crisis.”

EU total funding for biodiversity and ecosystems through international cooperation stands up to €1 billion for the funding period 2014-2020. The European Union is also Virunga National Park's longest and most important donor, with €83 million in grants since 2014. More information is available in the press release. For more details, please consult the dedicated websites on the EU global action on preserving ecosystems and biodiversity and EU Response to COVID-19 Crisis.

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