EK blog: Biodiversity – no news or what on Earth?

Climate issues have become a daily topic for businesses and citizens. Will there be similar buzz around biodiversity some day, asks Tellervo Kylä-Harakka-Ruonala, member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

Tellervo Kylä-Harakka-Ruonala is member of the EESC Section for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment, which discusses biodiversity as part of its agenda.
Tellervo Kylä-Harakka-Ruonala is member of the EESC Section for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment, which discusses biodiversity as part of its agenda.

I recently had the opportunity to meet over lunch with a group of politicians, business people and civil servants to discuss the challenge of protecting biodiversity. The representative of the European Commission told us about the status of the EU biodiversity policy. We were reminded that biodiversity plays a vital role for maintaining life on Earth. However, it seems to me that there is not much discussion on biodiversity on a daily basis.

During the lunch I posed a question to the other participants:
– Climate change is very high on the agenda of political decision-makers and all actors of society, including the regular people on the streets. Why hasn’t biodiversity received the same attention?
A distinguished Member of Parliament answered quickly:
– Maybe it is because the word ‘biodiversity’ is so difficult…
I fully agreed but ended in an uncomfortable conclusion:
– Hmm. That is true. But then the situation must be even worse in Finland, because biodiversity translates ‘luonnon monimuotoisuus’ in Finnish. Try to repeat!

Joking aside, biodiversity is taken very seriously in Finland. It is because our economy is strongly dependent on the use of natural resources. That is why we want to take an integrated approach to the protection of biodiversity: It is not just a question of protected areas or protected species. Rather it is a matter of integrating biodiversity aspects in the sustainable use of natural resources.

On the EU level, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has stated that there is no shortage of laws, directives, programs, political declarations or recommendations, but rather there is a lack of implementation. The key question then follows: how to mobilise true action on a broad basis?

I’m a firm believer in the action of civil society: companies, farmers, consumers and citizens in all their roles. These are the ones who make the change while the political decision-makers have the role of a facilitator and enabler.

Climate action has taken significant steps as companies, cities and other non-governmental actors have become more active. It is obvious that the same can happen as regards biodiversity as well – despite the fact that both the content and the terminology are challenging.

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