Brussels, 24 January 2023
Good afternoon everyone,
Today is a positive step forward for nature protection, with the Commission adopting a new Deal for pollinators.
Pollinators are crucial to reverse the effects of climate change. Without them, our diets and farmers would be poorer.
Yet, their numbers are declining and some species are critically endangered.
Four out of every five flowering plants need pollinators, and we now have numerous pollinator species on the verge of extinction.
Scientists say that one third of all bee, butterfly and hoverfly species are now in steep decline.
This decline is worrying.
Pollinators need stronger protection.
The extinction of pollinators would cause ecosystems to fall apart. It would, quite literally, be the stuff of nightmares.
We have to avoid that scenario, and the New Deal for pollinators adopted today aims at reversing their decline by the year 2030.
Let us take a more detailed look at this new deal for pollinators. First, it sets the headline objective of reversing the decline by 2030, and then identifies three main broad action areas to make that happen.
Most of these actions go in the same direction – they tackle the root causes of pollinators decline.
The first action area is better conservation of species and habitats. We will do that with specific conservation plans for species under threat. We identify pollinators that are typical of habitats protected under the Habitats Directive, and actions to step up that protection.
This will also include a new initiative called buzz lines – a blueprint for a network of ecological corridors for pollinators.
There will also be a new push to enhance pollinator habitats in urban areas.
The second action area is restoring habitats in agricultural landscapes. It’s easy to forget here in Brussels, but a massive percentage of the EU land area is farmland. So, we’re stepping up support in the Common Agricultural Policy for pollinator-friendly farming.
The third action refers to mitigating the impact of pesticide use. We know that pesticide use is a significant factor in pollinator decline, so we need to mitigate the impact of pesticide use.
Part of the solution lies with stronger legal requirements to implement integrated pest management, in line with the Commission proposal for a regulation on Sustainable Use of Pesticides. This proposal, now in codecision, will be the key instrument to reduce the risk and use of pesticides.
We are also strengthening the pesticide authorisation process with additional testing methods, and broadening the scope of species and effects to be assessed.
There are other factors driving pollinator decline. Therefore, this revised initiative refers to additional actions, such as tackling the impacts of climate change, invasive alien species and other threats like light pollution.
Success will depend on three things.
- First of all, on coordinating action across sectoral policies.
To take one obvious example, it is vital for agriculture, health and environment policies to work together very closely. Exactly the way we are with the rollout of the biodiversity strategy and Farm to Fork.
- Secondly, on establishing a more robust system for monitoring pollinators and enhancing research.
- Thirdly, on mobilising and engaging with all actors concerned by the implementation of this new deal for pollinators. Not just policymakers, but scientists, citizens, farmers and businesses.
This Initiative puts a strong emphasis on actions to be carried out by national, regional and local authorities. We will be supporting them very closely, in their efforts to get to grips with the causes of the problem.
Pollinators decline is a complex issue, with no simple solution. We could throw up our arms, walk away, and say we gave it our best shot but it just didn’t work. Or we can acknowledge that reversing pollinators decline trend requires multiple approaches.
The rapid adoption of the Nature Restoration Law would help tremendously by giving the force of law to the 2030 target.
This proposal is now going through codecision, and we call on the Parliament and the Council to maintain that level of ambition, and move swiftly through the process of adoption.
Thank you for your interest in this Initiative.
Source – EU Commission