“Bringing nature back in our lives” is a strong and encouraging title for the communication EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, COM(2020) 380 final, recognising the role of healthy ecosystems like wetlands as premier nature-based solution to rebuild society’s resilience, secure clean water supplies, reduce the impact of floods and droughts, enable food security and buffer people against the ravages of climate change .
Wetlands International European Association welcomes the commitment to invest in nature protection and restoration for Europe’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. This is a unique opportunity to shape a new society in harmony with nature. We must not forget that the biodiversity and climate crisis is a much bigger and persistent challenge for humanity than COVID-19. It is our duty to prepare and mitigate for the growing climate emergency and ensure the conservation of our natural resources for new generations. This includes protecting and restoring vital wetland habitats, such as rivers and peatlands.
We call on the European Parliament and the Council to endorse this strategy and to ensure that the Nature Restoration Plan will be presented in 2021 according wetlands a prominent place. If this strategy is part of a “European recovery that gives more back to the planet than it takes away”, as mentioned by EC’s President von der Leyen, we expect that the Post COVID recovery plan allocates a specific budget line for the implementation of this strategy.
1. Protect and recover Europe’s wetland biodiversity
- We welcome that the European Commission has repeatedly emphasized the need to protect and restore wetlands ecosystems to bring substantial socio-economic benefits
Legally binding restoration targets for wetlands
- We welcome the Commission’s proposal to restoring freshwater ecosystems through the existing legal framework on water and the target for restoring 25,000 km of free-flowing rivers.
- We applaud the commitment of the European Commission to present in 2021 binding EU nature restorations targets to restore healthy and resilient ecosystems, including the most-carbon-rich ones such as seagrass meadows, wetlands, peatlands, bogs and marshes
- We believe that the efforts of the Commission to avoid or minimize the placing of products associated, in particular, with deforestation or forest degradation on the EU market and to promote forest-friendly imports and value chains is positive but not enough.
- The Commission will take a number of steps to crack down on illegal wildlife trade. We keep calling out to Europe: Stop illegal trafficking of European Eel!
- While greeting the prominent role of nature based solutions in the communication, we strongly stress that alongside green-grey infrastructures, space should be given to blue-green infrastructures
3.Enable Transformative Change for NBS
- Without a true systems understanding, NBS is in danger of remaining local, ignoring wider landscape and factors that influence it. This can result in maladaptation, or unintended damage to other ecosystems. Such systems thinking and multi-disciplinary collaboration to re-design landscapes for future resilience enables innovation and the use of best practice for nature based and hybrid solutions.
4.Tackle Global Challenges with healthy wetlands
- The future of humanity depends on wetlands.
- Safeguarding and restoring wetlands are increasingly looked to as the premier nature-based solution to rebuild society’s resilience, securing clean water supplies, reducing the impact of floods and droughts, enabling food security and buffering people against the ravages of climate change, said Jane Madgwick, WI CEO.
Find out more on our position here.
If you want to have a look at the official EU Communication, click here
 Post COVID 19: unique opportunity to shape a new society in harmony with nature, Wetlands International European Association 2020
 protecting coastal wetlands could save the insurance industry around €50 billion annually through reducing flood damage losses, COM(2020) 380 final