NGOs urge the EU to address biodiversity goals in its next budget

Published 16:02 on July 9, 2024  /  Last updated at 16:02 on July 9, 2024  / Giada Ferraglioni /  Biodiversity, EMEA

Well-targeted financing through the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) is crucial for achieving EU biodiversity goals, including the establishment of a dedicated conservation and restoration fund, a campaign group has said.

Well-targeted financing through the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) is crucial for achieving EU biodiversity goals, including the establishment of a dedicated conservation and restoration fund, a campaign group has said.

Prague-based CEE Bankwatch released a joint statement penned by several EU environmental NGOs, calling on governments not to leave aside biodiversity during the ongoing discussion around the bloc’s long-term budget for 2028-35, due to be finalised by 2025.

BirdLife International, WWF, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), and ClientEarth are among the signatories.

“The EU’s current strategy predominantly focuses on integrating biodiversity financing into broader funding streams and sectors,” the document said.

“However, this approach often results in biodiversity having to compete for resources with other sectors, many of which enjoy stronger political backing from national governments. Consequently, biodiversity projects … are overshadowed by large-scale, expensive infrastructure projects that promise more immediate outcomes.”

To address the issue and bridge the funding gap efficiently, the group drafted three policy proposals:

  • Establishing a dedicated biodiversity conservation and restoration fund in the next MFF;
  • Strengthening biodiversity mainstreaming through all EU funding programmes;
  • Preventing EU funds from financing investments that damage biodiversity.

According to the group, creating a targeted nature fund would guarantee EU funding to back effective activities, reduce greenwashing, and enable accurate expenditure accounting.

“The nature fund should encompass a range of activities that contribute directly to the goals of the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, the Nature Restoration Law, and the Nature Directives,” the document said.

“These include the establishment, management, and long-term financing of protected areas, control and management of invasive species, habitat restoration, biodiversity monitoring, and citizens’ science projects.”

With the exception of the LIFE programme – the only EU funding initiative entirely dedicated to environmental, climate, and energy goals – EU biodiversity funding to date is allocated through a series of existing funds and programmes designed for delivering various sectoral objectives.

“Under the current funding structure, EU funds for biodiversity are in constant conflict with the interests of other sectors, which leads to trade-offs and competition between and within these sectors,” Daniel Thomson, EU policy officer for biodiversity at CEE Bankwatch Network, told Carbon Pulse.

“One way this can be achieved is by establishing a dedicated nature fund to ensure a more efficient and targeted use of EU funds for biodiversity.”

The group also urged member states to develop a methodology to accurately track biodiversity spending, prioritising on-site visits to assess the impacts of funding.

“The methodology should focus only on dedicated biodiversity conservation and restoration projects rather than assuming benefits from projects in other sectors,” the document said.

“It should also focus on the outcomes of expenditure, including whether the funds have produced a positive result for biodiversity, rather than simply the monetary value.”


“More than ever biodiversity is underfunded by the EU budget, we need to change that in the next negotiations to bridge a biodiversity financing gap of €186.89 billion,” Thomas Freisinger, senior policy officer at EuroNatur, one of the NGOs that signed the recommendations, told Carbon Pulse.

Additional funding for halting and reversing biodiversity loss can be found by reforming and reallocating subsidies that are harmful to nature, the group said.

As widely said by experts and environmentalists, those subsidies are among the main threat to biodiversity. The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework calls for their reduction by at least $500 bln per year under target 18.

In its document, the group called on EU institutions to implement a legally binding methodology to define environmentally harmful subsidies so all member states identify the same subsidies as harmful.

“Addressing the biodiversity crisis depends not only on the EU’s capacity to allocate sufficient and well-targeted financial resources to protect and restore nature, but also on a commitment to stop financing projects that harm the environment,” the document said.

In a report published in May, the WWF European Policy Office estimated that EU countries are directing between €34 bln and €48 bln of European subsidies annually into activities that harm biodiversity, with the majority of them allocated to agriculture.

Up to 60% of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding is spent by member states on large-scale unsustainable farming and forestry activities, totalling €32.1 bln annually, the WWF said.

By Giada Ferraglioni –

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