Following the landmark deal reached yesterday at COP15 in Montreal, today the majority of EU environment ministers voiced their support for an ambitious EU Nature Restoration Law that can be a game-changer for nature, people, the climate and the economy. Today’s ENVI Council was the first opportunity for environment ministers to exchange views on the EU Nature Restoration Law proposal, published by the European Commission in June 2022. Large-scale nature restoration, proposed by the Commission in the form of legally binding restoration targets for various ecosystems, is a key solution to address the intertwined biodiversity and climate crises.
WWF welcomes the strong support for the Commission’s proposal from multiple Member States, among them Luxembourg, France, Belgium, Estonia, Slovenia, Italy, Denmark and Germany.
“Today’s exchange is sending a strong signal that the EU is on the right track with its ambition for a nature restoration law, with ministers emphasising the urgency and necessity to bring nature back to our fragmented European landscapes. Following on the heels of COP15, this “spirit of Montréal” must be maintained for the further discussions, as we need a speedy process to adopt this law. Large scale nature restoration cannot wait!” said Sabien Leemans, Senior Biodiversity Officer, WWF European Policy Office.
Ahead of the ENVI Council, WWF had urged EU environment ministers to show their support for the Nature Restoration Law and strengthen the ambition level of the proposal. Especially Luxembourg’s position is worth noting as Joëlle Welfring, the country’s Minister for the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development, called to increase the ambition level of the legal proposal.
Despite being supportive of the proposal in general, a handful of ministers raised concerns about its different implications, such as its feasibility or perceived impact on economic sectors.
“As anticipated, some Member States have outed themselves as naysayers, mainly in line with the economic interests of their pet industries,” said Sabien Leemans. “Going forward, we’re calling for all governments to listen to science, citizens and progressive business voices and to agree on a law which can be a real game changer for nature, biodiversity and climate action in Europe.”
The next discussion in the ENVI Council is planned for March 2023, with a final agreement expected to be adopted in June 2023, under the Swedish Presidency. WWF, together with other NGOs, will closely follow the developments in both the Council and the European Parliament, to ensure that the words on large-scale nature restoration in the EU will turn into effective action.
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The majority of EU environment ministers voiced their support for an ambitious EU Nature Restoration Law© Wild Wonders of Europe / Mark Hamblin / WWF