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European Union Nature Restoration Law & its implications

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There has been a thematic shift with regards to our global approach to climate change mitigation and the EU Commission (EC) has been on the frontline of this welcome course-correction.

As explored in our prior excerpts, expanding the way we look at climate health has manifested in a push for better rounded climate solutions that consider the long-term strength of nature, ecosystems and biodiversity at large. 

The EU’s Nature Restoration Law, proposed earlier this year, hopes to codify legally binding targets that will ensure the restoration and reversal of biodiversity damage. Importantly, its approach to biodiversity protection is wide & far-reaching and is encapsulated by seven target areas; increasing pollinator populations by 2030, maintaining green urban areas, protecting biodiversity in agroecosystems, restoring & rewetting drained peatlands, protecting marine habitat, improving river systems and regulating forestry activities. These targets are reflective of the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy that were published as a part of the framework for the EU Green New Deal in 2020. This systematic approach demonstrates how to implement a well-considered, thoughtful approach to biodiversity policy. It also showcases the EU’s patience and willingness to take incremental steps to further promote the accountability, transparency and cooperation necessary to actively decouple economic growth from natural resource use. 

Furthermore, the proposed legislation strikes the right balance between promoting shared responsibility and facilitating proportionate action. It mandates Member States to develop their own respective ‘National Restoration Plans’ and sets out specific rules on governance that standardize the monitoring, the assessment and the reporting process; helping to establish a strong sense of collective responsibility that is essential to a successful biodiversity protection plan. It also acknowledges the contextual differences that exist from an ecological, societal and economic standpoint across the EU, by ensuring Member States are given room to manoeuvre independently and to implement national measures that will best reflect their specific challenges, opportunities and needs. 

The EU has consistently been a global benchmark when it comes to developing and enacting climate change policy. As the global dialogue surrounding climate action shifts its collective sights to biodiversity with the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) in Montreal next month, the Nature Restoration Law shows a clear indication of how, as nature-based solutions and biodiversity frameworks become a bigger part of the global response to climate action, a strong legal framework will go a long way.

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