Story BIODIVERSITY AND THE EU - Sustaining Life Sustaining Livelihoods. Stakeholder conference 25-27 May 2004 in Malahide, under the Irish EU Presidency

The Irish EU Presidency is calling stakeholders to a conference on biodiversity and the European Union. It will be a key event in a critical policy review process on biodiversity and the European Union, presenting the opportunity to re-orient EU policy in time to meet the 2010 targets to halting the loss of biodiversity, which were agreed by Heads of State and Government at Gothenburg (2001) and Johannesburg (WSSD, 2002). The Conference will be formative in defining the EU’s response to the 2010 biodiversity targets. Information can be found at the Irish Presidency web site:,418,13&list_id=193 Participants are expected to include senior officials from Member States (including the ten new Member States) and neighbouring countries, environmental and developmental NGOs, industry (e.g. farming and fishing industries) and academia, as well as the media. The conference will take place from 25 – 27 May. More information: see also below.
Release date 08/04/2004
Contributor pinborg
Concerned URL,418,13&list_id=193
Source European Commission DG Environment. Guy Duke

Background for th Malahide Conference. Biodiversity loss has accelerated to an unprecedented level, both in Europe and worldwide. Species are becoming extinct at a rate that is 1000 to 10000 times higher than the natural rate would be. Worldwide, over 11,000 species of plants and animals face a high risk of extinction in the near future, in almost all cases as a result of human activity. For example, recent studies predict that environmental degradation could wipe out 1,211 bird species, an eighth of the world’s total. The threat is augmented by that of climate change: a recent report predicted that climate change will threaten the extinction of a quarter of all land animals and plants by 2050. Within Europe, 335 vertebrate species are at risk of extinction ' including the Iberian lynx, brown bear, and all our sea mammals. 38% of our bird species, 45% of our butterfly species and 5% of mollusc species are threatened. 80% of our fish stocks face collapse or are of unknown status. 64 endemic plant species have become extinct in the wild, and a further 800 plant species occurring in Europe are threatened with global extinction. Worldwide, 37% of domestic animals are endangered and in Western Europe, 97 breeds of domestic animals have become extinct in recent times. Almost 30% of surviving breeds are currently under risk. Our ecosystems are equally at risk. The EU has lost more than half of its wetlands. Only a very small proportion of the natural forest which once covered Europe remains untouched and the loss of old and semi-natural woodlands continues. Species-rich agricultural habitats in Europe have declined considerably during recent decades. And many European marine ecosystems are disrupted. Biodiversity loss matters. It matters for ethical, emotional, environmental and economic reasons. Ethically, we have a responsibility to future generations to maintain the diversity of life on earth. Emotionally, we derive from nature pleasure, fulfilment, inspiration and solace; nature is fundamental to our culture, language, psychological and spiritual wellbeing. Environmentally, biodiversity provides a wide range of essential services – including carbon-cycling and storage, clean water, climate mitigation, mitigation of natural hazards, and pollination. Economically, the financial value of the goods and services provided by ecosystems and species – by life on earth – has been estimated at Euro 26 trillion per year – nearly twice the value of what humans produce each year. The conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is essential to poverty eradication in developing countries, and to sustainable livelihoods and sustained economic growth in Europe and worldwide. Biodiversity is part of the daily lives of every one of us and, indeed, we are part of biodiversity. It is for these reasons that this Conference is subtitled ‘Sustaining Life, Sustaining Livelihoods’. In 2001, EU Heads of State and Government made a commitment at the EU’s Spring Summit in Gothenburg to ‘halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010’. And in 2002, world leaders agreed at the World Summit for Sustainable Development to ‘significantly reduce the current rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010’. It is to be noted, therefore, that the EU’s commitment in this area is more ambitious than that at the global level. Objective and expected outputs This Conference aims to outline a 2010 Delivery Plan - to deliver the EU’s 2010 target and to optimise the EU’s contribution to the global 2010 target. The Plan will identify a relatively small number of priority objectives, output-oriented targets related to these objectives, and indicators which will inform us on progress, actions needed to meet the objectives, and implementation arrangements including key actors, coordination mechanisms and resource needs. The expected outputs of the Conference are: 1) broad stakeholder endorsement of an ‘audit’ of progress to date, 2) the outline 2010 Delivery Plan, 3) establishment of institutional arrangements to take forward implementation of the Plan. The Irish Presidency intends to make a Presidency Report from the Conference to the EU Environment Council on 28-29 June 2004. The Commission will then respond through a report to the Council of the European Union and to the European Parliament incorporating as appropriate proposals for Commission action. The Commission will work with future Presidencies (Netherlands, Luxembourg, UK…) to seek commitment from Member States to take forward the Delivery Plan. Civil society follow-up is expected to include coordination with the ‘Countdown 2010’ initiative. This IUCN-inspired initiative, supported by a large number of environmental organisations, aims to raise awareness, build political pressure and pull together actors to achieve the 2010 targets. The Countdown 2010 will be launched at the Conference. Follow the Conference preparation at the Irish Presidency web site