April 13. 2024. 6:18

The Daily

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Safeguarding biodiversity must become priority

The biodiversity crisis threatens the life of all Europeans, from impeding food production to hindering the development of life-saving medicines. While some progress has been made, there is still a lot more to do to secure our future.

We face several crises. From the pandemic to the Russian war in Ukraine, to inflation, to climate change. Our livelihoods are under constant threat. Our safety is challenged. People are struggling and they are worried about the future.

Alone, any one of these crises would be enough to endanger our communities and jeopardise our quality of life. But, each crisis builds on the others and distracts us from a long-term danger lurking in the background.

For there is another crisis happening all around us, which threatens to turn our age of crises into a global cataclysm. That hidden crisis is the catastrophic biodiversity loss of animal and plant life which is not going away.

Our defence of biodiversity is not only a matter of altruism. The biodiversity crisis threatens the quality of life of all of us across Europe. The price to pay for loss of biodiversity includes reduced food availability, increased uncertainty and therefore also the cost of groceries. It eliminates job opportunities. It impedes development of life-saving medicines. It destroys crops and kills fish. It creates food shortages that lead to migration crises.

We already see the impacts. We have lost nearly 20€ trillion in economic activity due to declining ecosystems. And another 11€ trillion due to land degradation. The migration crisis that exploded in 2015 has led to millions of migrants to Europe fleeing both conflict and climate change-accelerated deprivation.

These economic costs impact people in their daily lives across Europe. I hear it all the time in my own homeland of Slovakia. When I meet with people in Bratislava, or in Brussels for my parliamentary work, people tell me they are worried whether they will afford annual family vacation, to pay rent, or what to choose between buying food or medicine.

On this World Wildlife Day, I want to acknowledge that this biodiversity crisis is also a quality-of-life crisis. And a human crisis that will have lasting effects. For the first time in recent history, people are concerned they will be worse off than their parents. I worry about my own generation but I worry more for future generations.

If we do nothing, opportunities will be fewer. Quality of life will be lower. Climate change will worsen, leading to hotter days, massive floods, extreme cold, and water shortages. Life will be harder. People will struggle even more.

For Europe’s liberals, our highest duty is taking real action to help make life better for more people. That means taking immediate action to help people who are struggling today to meet their needs. Taking measures to reduce energy consumption and investing in sustainable technologies.

It also means taking smart actions for more sustainable policies for the future. For instance, by shifting public means and incentives towards investments and further research and development on all forms of renewable energy.

When it comes to biodiversity, we have already pushed for the EU’s commitment to restoring at least 30% of degraded ecosystems by 2030 and to dedicate 10 % of overall annual Multiannual Financial Framework spending to biodiversity objectives. But, there is a lot more to do to protect biodiversity and help stabilise people’s lives and the future of their families.

For example, we believe the EU must strengthen the cooperation on environmental protection on land and at sea and ensure sustainable agricultural practices, which will not only protect our food supply but also protect animal welfare.

People can endure a great deal of change and hardship, but this is a crisis threating our survival. We need to change the trajectory. We can improve people’s quality of life and head off greater suffering and future hardship.

Liberals are listening and acting. Therefore, on the occasion of the World Wildlife Day, we would like to ensure that the new Action Plan against Wildlife trafficking will translate into concrete actions starting with adoption of positive list to address the sale of exotic animals as pets and to stop illegal trade of endangered species.