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FP6

Communication from the Commission halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010 - and beyond, Sustaining ecosystem services for human well-being, COM(2006) 216 final

Funded under: FP6-SUSTDEV

Abstract

Over recent decades, humanity has benefited enormously from development, which has enriched our lives. However, much of this development has been associated with a decline in both the variety and extent of natural systems - of biodiversity. This loss of biodiversity, at the levels of ecosystems, species and genes, is of concern not just because of the important intrinsic value of nature, but also because it results in a decline in 'ecosystem services' which natural systems provide. These services include production of food, fuel, fibre and medicines, regulation of water, air and climate, maintenance of soil fertility, cycling of nutrients. In this context concern for biodiversity is integral to sustainable development and underpins competitivity, growth and employment, and improved livelihoods.
The recent Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) launched by the UN Secretary General highlighted that most such services are in decline, both in the EU and globally. The bottom line, it said, is that we are spending the Earth's natural capital and putting at risk the ability of ecosystems to sustain future generations. We can reverse the decline, but only with substantial changes in policy and practice.
The EU has made significant commitments in this regard. EU Heads of State or Government agreed in 2001 "to halt the decline of biodiversity [in the EU] by 2010" and to "restore habitats and natural systems". In 2002, they joined some 130 world leaders in agreeing "to significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss [globally] by 2010". Opinion polls show that these concerns for nature and biodiversity are strongly supported by EU citizens.

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