© Fabiana Rizzi

A blueprint to save the planet

European Commission releases Biodiversity and Farm to Fork Strategies 

Today, following multiple delays, the European Commission released its highly anticipated Biodiversity Strategy and Farm to Fork Strategy [1]. These documents will map the main features of the EU’s biodiversity and food-related policies for the coming decade and are key components of the European Green Deal. Adopted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, these strategies will also be a central element of the EU’s Corona crisis recovery plan.

The simultaneous release of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies is noteworthy in itself as intensive agriculture and fishing are the biggest drivers of the loss of biodiversity. By releasing the two strategies at the same time, the EU is acknowledging that destructive food systems must no longer be the norm in Europe. The strategies indicate that the Commission has also applied key lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic – a healthy planet is a precondition for a healthy human society, science must guide political choices, and a crisis must be acted on before it gets out of control.

The Commission has taken several radical leaps with the two strategies, and outlines goals which could in fact improve the state of nature in Europe:

  • Increase nature protected areas to ensure that at least 30% of both land and sea is protected. A third of these protected areas will be strictly protected – meaning no human activity can take place
  • Reduce chemical pesticide use by 50% both in terms of quantity and toxicity
  • Restore 10% of farmland with biodiversity elements such as hedgerows and flower strips to improve the sustainability of farming
  • Introduce binding EU nature restoration targets to restore crucial large-scale ecosystems such as peatlands, wetlands, forests and marine ecosystems, which are all vital for biodiversity and climate mitigation and adaptation
  • Minimise the practice of burning biomass such as trees to produce energy

In particular, the Commission has presented a number of progressive steps and goals to reform Europe’s destructive agricultural practices. These two strategies will play a defining part in the reform of Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that has a budget of nearly 60 billion euros, later this year.

With these strategies, the EU could actually become the global leader of fighting the climate and biodiversity crises. Without global transformative change, up to one million species are likely to go extinct, and if global warming surpasses 1.5 °C, the very survival of humanity is at risk [2].

These two strategies could actually change the trajectory of our planetary crises. However, without the 27 Member States endorsing and implementing them, little will be accomplished.

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of Policy, BirdLife Europe:
The European Commission has presented today what should be the new normal that our planet desperately needs. They show that they are not only listening to the science, but they are acting on what it has been telling us for so long. But the proof is only in the pudding, and in order to achieve real change, national leaders must support these proposals and lead society out of the current climate and biodiversity crises that threaten our very existence.

BirdLife Europe has made an initial analysis of the content of the two strategies which is available here.

By Honey Kohan

Brussels – 20 May 2020

Source: https://www.birdlife.org/europe-and-central-asia/news/press-release-blueprint-save-planet-biodiversity-farm-fork-strategy-20May2020

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