Is the 2030 EU Biodiversity Strategy running out of water?

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The European Green Deal and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 offer new opportunities to address the interlinked climate and biodiversity crises more effectively. However, this cannot be achieved without better implementation and integration between the EU’s existing nature and water laws. This report commissioned by Wetlands International Europe investigates the extent to which this is happening.

The report examines how nature conservation objectives that contribute to achieving the EU Nature Directives (European Birds and Habitats Directives) are integrated into the most recent River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) for 2022-2027 as required by the EU Water Framework Directive. Water management should play an important role in restoring these habitats and wetland-dependent species to favourable conservation status.

Instead, the report finds that the level of ambition reflected in most RBMPs is unlikely to help achieve the objectives of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 in terms of the improved conservation status of species and habitats or healthy freshwater ecosystems. Even more concerning is that the widespread use of exemptions and implementation gaps within the RBMPs is likely to lead to further deterioration. Thinking beyond the current timelines, fundamental improvements are needed to deliver any relevant targets by 2040 and 2050.

The report highlights several barriers to successful integration and offers specific recommendations to EU Member States and the European Commission to strengthen implementation and integration. 

Is the 2030 EU Biodiversity Strategy running out of water?