President of the Study Group on The sustainable economy we need at EESC, Josep Puxeu Rocamora, argues that when it comes to the European Green Deal, biodiversity cannot wait
The scientific community has long sounded the alarm concerning our planet. The disappearance of species, ecosystem degradation, natural disasters, scarcity of raw materials, shortages of drinking water, rising temperatures…we hear these words every day from the news, reports and conferences, highlighting a worrying situation.
Words are not enough. We are facing a real threat to humankind that demands immediate action. The responsibility lies with all of us. So we should welcome the European Green Deal presented by the European Commission, with which the European Union (EU) intends to lead the way in tackling the climate crisis. It is a significant step forward and the goal it represents is to be applauded. It will be backed up by legislation and economic resources and will, in turn, needs to seek the backing of civil society and the Member States to put it into practice.
“The European Commission has presented its Biodiversity Strategy, under which the intentions set out in the Green Deal are to be put into practice. Moreover, in October the COP 15 CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) meeting is to approve the new UN targets. These are two major opportunities to seek nature-based solutions, tackle climate change and protect the planet.”
Striving to be more sustainable
As businesses, we must be an active and essential part of this, as our survival also depends on it. We are indeed working to this end, striving to be more sustainable and building the environmental dimension into our business strategies. We are taking measures, investing resources and promoting voluntary commitments to help achieve this, convinced that growth and well-being must go hand-in-hand.
This is the bright side: but there are also some darker areas. Recently, and not least in connection with the European Green Deal, the climate emergency has hit the headlines and is on many countries’ agendas, but we also need to focus on another emergency – biodiversity. While clear steps are being taken concerning the former, the risks arising from loss of biodiversity continue to be underestimated. This is argued not only by environmental organisations but also by the Davos World Economic Forum in its recent Global Risks Report 2020.
Climate and biodiversity crises
The climate and biodiversity crises are part of a single problem and have a single origin: the current model of production and consumption. There must be progress towards a more sustainable economy, grounded in a growth model that looks beyond GDP and takes due account of all environmental considerations. We at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) have put forward numerous recommendations in this direction, and we call on the EU economy and finance ministers to think about the economic challenge posed by biodiversity loss. We must work towards a “well-being economy” which includes new indicators of progress. Such a shift would respond to the current challenges and allow us to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
We are losing biodiversity at an unprecedented rate. Recent UN reports conclude that ecosystems are in critical condition, with 75% of the planet’s surface negatively affected by human activity and some 1 million species at risk of extinction. A new world framework is urgently needed.
Framework to protect biological diversity
Despite existing conventions and agreements, the evidence is that adequate measures have not been taken. What shape should a new framework to protect biological diversity take? 2020 is a crucial year for finding the answers. The European Commission has presented its Biodiversity Strategy, under which the Why is it so important to do this? Because all species perform a function within a biological balance. The loss of biodiversity has a negative impact in terms of vulnerability to natural disasters, food security, access to clean water and raw materials.
Over the last 50 years, while the indicators of an extractive economy, with little circularity, were on the rise, environmental indicators continued to deteriorate, signalling a serious threat to the very survival of humankind. intentions set out in the Green Deal are to be put into practice. Moreover, in October the COP 15 CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) meeting is to approve the new UN targets. These are two major opportunities to seek nature-based solutions, tackle climate change and protect the planet.
Protecting biodiversity can no longer take a back seat. We at the EESC call on the Commission to mainstream biodiversity into all the EU’S policies in a cross-cutting approach, including all sectors and administrations.
As businesses, we are also aware that we must move in this direction, seeking sustainable growth that is committed to people and nature