Saturday

13th Aug 2022

Europe willing to make biodiversity payments, says expert

  • Jacqueline McGlade, director of the European Environment Agency (Photo: EEA)

An influential European expert has said the region is willing to make payments to developing nations to protect their biodiversity, despite recent EU statements to the contrary.

In an interview with EUobserver on Monday (27 September), Jacqueline McGlade, director of the European Environment Agency, said the issue of payments would inevitably be discussed when environment ministers from up to 190 UN member states meet in Nagoya, Japan, next month (18-29 October) to discuss how to protect the world's biodiversity.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Payments talk will come up, but the question is the amounts," she said. "There is a willingness on the part of the EU to pay but the issue is a verification system ... so that you can genuinely say that this forest was left standing, for example."

Other senior EU figures, however, have recently expressed an unwillingness to hand over more money to developing nations, with Belgium's Flemish minister for environment, Joke Schauvliege, stating "we don't have it". Belgium currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.

With much of the global debate focused on fighting climate change through the reduction of C02 emissions, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned at a summit in New York last week that policymakers were still failing to grasp the implications of biodiversity loss.

Recent reports calculate that species are disappearing at the dizzying speed up to 1,000 times the natural rate because of human activity, primarily habitat destruction.

An interim study last year - called The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) - attempted to quantify the cost of man's continued destruction of forests, wetlands and other important habitats which provide clean air, fresh drinking water and other 'environmental services'.

An imminent update of the report is expected to say that the ratio of costs of conserving ecosystems or biodiversity to the benefits of doing so is in the range of 10:1 to 100:1.

Assessment panel

Most agree, however, that a shortage of reliable scientific data and advice is holding back global efforts to tackle the problem.

As environment ministers prepare for the crucial Japan meeting, a new row has broken out in recent weeks over the setting up a top-level panel that, like the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), would provide policymakers with the best scientific assessment on biodiversity loss.

Media reports suggest that developing countries are keen to slow the formation of the panel until rich countries agree to financial support. In return for the payments, Western states would gain access to genetic "patrimony" - unique species of plants or animals that, for instance, are found to have a commercial or medical use.

In addition to the ongoing battle over the panel's formation, Ms Glade warns that it risks becoming the battle-ground for other controversial disputes once it is set up.

"I think it has to be very transparent, without vested interests," she warned, citing the current debate over the environmental benefits of genetically modified organisms. "The non-GMO and pro-GMO [camps] will see it as a platform as to where to slug out their battle."

Almost two-thirds of Europe in danger of drought

Data released by the European Drought Observatory show 60 percent of Europe and the United Kingdom is currently in a state of drought, with farming, homes and industry being affected. Drought conditions have also led to an increase in wildfires.

Droughts prompt calls to cut water use amid harvest fears

With the prolonged lack of rain and high temperatures, fears have emerged over water shortages and droughts decreasing crop yields — prompting calls to use less water and reuse urban wastewater for agricultural irrigation.

EU 'must tax pesticides' to cut use, expert warns

The European Commission put forward a new proposal to reduce pesticides in mid-June. But experts warn that it is based on weak rules, and that European agriculture is stuck in a "permanent pesticide-dependence."

Brazil pitches itself as answer to Ukraine war food shortages

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is pitching his Latin American country as the answer to the world food crisis following the war in Ukraine. The traditional wheat importer has now exported three million tonnes of the grain so far in 2022.

Opinion

Exploiting the Ukraine crisis for Big Business

From food policy to climate change, corporate lobbyists are exploiting the Ukraine crisis to try to slash legislation that gets in the way of profit. But this is only making things worse.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us