Biodiversity: A sticking point?
As the Gulf of Mexico oil spill hits the headlines, Sandrine Bélier is calling on Europe to act now to preserve biodiversity
(31 May 2010 / Parliament Magazine 55 / Télecharger l’article en format pdf et le programme de la Green Week)
The massive oil spill spreading in the Gulf of Mexico is having a frightening impact. Pictures of basted seabirds and turtles are circulating all over the world. Commercial fishing has been suspended in the vicinity of the spill. The spread and its dispersant toxicity are worrying all experts. Hotel bookings have already slowed down. Did it really have to come to this to realise how much we depend on biodiversity? Will we eventually learn the lesson?
Biodiversity is not only a remarkable and fascinating natural heritage, it also – freely – provides us with services such as water purification, oxygen and carbon recycling, soil fertility, food production, drug development and general wealth protection. But these benefits are very often taken for granted, and we tend to underestimate the growing threats to biodiversity. Accidents and ordinary human activities in the last 50 years have led to irreversible loss.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has demonstrated that 36 per cent of classified species are endangered. To make matters worse, we are wiping out these species at an unprecedented rate. The study on the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity, led by the economist Pavan Sukhdev, is clear: by 2050, 750 million hectares of natural areas will disappear – twice the EU’s territory.
The oil spill ironically occurs in 2010, the international year of biodiversity, and the deadline to achieve the target to halt biodiversity decline. This disaster must be the turning point. In the upcoming months, the Nagoya summit in Japan in October, and the community strategy 2011-2016, will be major opportunities for the EU to go for ambitious biodiversity targets: to stop further loss and deterioration of biodiversity; to improve the conservation status of threatened species and habitats, both in the EU and worldwide, and to enhance and restore ecosystems
to make them resilient to climate change, supporting biodiversity A sticking point? As the Gulf of Mexico oil spill hits the headlines, Sandrine Bélier is calling on Europe to act now to preserve biodiversity and delivering the services human wellbeing
Too ambitious targets? These targets may be met with a comprehensive policy. As a prerequisite, current EU legislation must be fully transposed and enforced, in particular for marine sites. The Sukhdev report has calculated that the return on investments could be worth 25 to 100 times more. That is a reason good enough for community and national biodiversity strategies to allocate a minimum of 0.3 per cent of GDP to biodiversity protection.
Let us not forget the framework directive on soil protection (blocked in the council since 2006) and the long-awaited directive on invasive alien species. Salads do not grow in supermarket sections and if we want to keep on eating natural food, these two directives will have to be backed up. Of course, issues like GMOs and the extinction of bluefin tuna must not be left aside: biodiversity protection must be mainstreamed in all policies – agriculture and fisheries, but also urban governance, transport, development, forest, research and industries.
The Nagoya summit will also have the opportunity to set up an intergovernmental panel on biodiversity and ecosystem services (IPBES) comparable to the IPCC for climate change. This IPBES would have the urgent task of proceeding to a longawaited biodiversity health check. Biodiversity protection is probably the biggest challenge we have to face and more work is needed to communicate messages about the importance of biodiversity to the general public, and to encourage higher participation in its protection. As a member of the European parliament, I will continue to push for a fundamental change of approach to biodiversity. This 2010 year of biodiversity, must be the turning point.