Monday, June 01, 2015

Preservation of biodiversity and ecosystem essential for the economy and welfare

International conference “EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 – towards implementation” took place under the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union on 26 - 27 May in Riga. During the conference Latvian Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development Kaspars Gerhards stressed the essential role of biodiversity and ecosystem preservation to the economy and human long-term welfare.

Participants of the conference — representatives of EU Member States, the European Commission (EC), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other stakeholders — discussed the opportunities for biodiversity preservation, one of the priorities of the Latvian Presidency in the field of environmental protection.

In April 2015, during the discussion at the Informal Meeting of Environment Ministers taking place in Riga on already implemented biodiversity preservation measures, determination of the EU to achieve the objectives of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, was expressed clearly.

Taking into account the EU commitment, conference's participants contributed to the EU Biodiversity Strategy implementation progress evaluation. The State of Nature in the European Union Report published by the EC on 19 May, 2015 served as the basis for the discussions. The report has been prepared by analysing the reports submitted by EU Member States on conservation status of the wild bird species, habitat types and other species. The report concludes that the situation in the area of biodiversity has not improved. For example, under the Habitats Directive, only 16% of habitats and 23% of species assessments are favourable.

During discussions the representatives from NGOs had critical opinion, as well as proposed valuable suggestions. For example, they proposed EU and its Member States to be active in restoring ecosystems, species habitats and biotopes to improve the implementation process and achieve the EU Strategy objectives.

Representatives of EU Member States exchanged views on ecosystems and their assessment, including the contribution of the natural capital into economic development. Particularly valuable were the good practice examples regarding the mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services, as well as creation of innovative financial mechanisms to preserve biodiversity financially.

Conference's results will be used to prepare the EC Mid-Term Review of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy that will be published in the autumn of 2015.

The two-day conference was organised by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia in collaboration with the European Commission, Latvian Fund for Nature, European Environmental Bureau and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the EC LIFE Nature project “Birds in Ādaži”. The Latvian Fund for Nature and the European Environmental Bureau implement the project that enables active participation of non-governmental organisations in the conference, receiving support of Latvian state budget-funded programme Support for public participation in implementing the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.


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