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EU cities and regions call for more ambitious biodiversity targets  

In the context of the United Nations (UN) Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) that is taking place in Montreal, EU cities and regions are pushing for more ambitious biodiversity targets while calling for a formal recognition of subnational governments in protecting ecosystems and restoring natural habitats. Zero pollution and the outcomes of the UN climate talks (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh were additional items in the agenda of the ENVE commission meeting which also hosted the 2022 Transformative Action Award ceremony.

Despite COP27's agreement on a new loss and damage fund, the UN climate talks in Sharm el-Sheikh saw no substantial increase in climate commitments. While greenhouse gas emissions keep rising, cities and regions worldwide – under the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) constituency to the UN, showed climate leadership at COP27 to defend their role in delivering climate action.

During a debate on the outcomes of COP27, Rafał Trzaskowski (PL/EPP), Mayor of Warsaw and chair of the ENVE commission and of the Green Deal Going Local working group, said: " I welcome the fact that cities and regions were recognised as "instrumental to broaden climate action and respond to climate change" in the COP27 conclusions. However I reiterate my call for their formal inclusion in the UNFCCC process. With the lack of action at the international or national levels, local and regional authorities are leading by example, setting more ambitious goals for climate neutrality and transforming local communities into more sustainable, healthier and more attractive places to live. That is why, in line with their legal responsibilities, cities and regions need direct EU funding and fast-track access to additional funds via the REPowerEU chapters in the Recovery and Resilience Plans."

Members adopted a draft opinion on the EU Nature Restoration Law, contributing to the proposal published by the European Commission on 22 June which includes an overarching obligation to restore 20 per cent of the EU’s land and sea by 2030.

Roby Biwer (LU/PES), member of the Bettembourg Municipal Council and rapporteur of the opinion, said: " With the new EU Nature Restoration Law, we are changing the paradigm, seeking to manage habitats to facilitate the restoration of biodiversity that is suffering increasing loss. We welcome the new binding targets for the coming years for Member states and we support the establishment of sanctions if they do not implement them. Regional and local authorities are already implementing projects for biodiversity, working in synergies to create a biotope. At COP15, we will push for this approach to be replicated globally." The draft opinion is to be adopted at the 7-8-9 February 2023 plenary session. Rapporteur Roby Biwer is a member of the CoR delegation to COP15.

The CoR hosted the 2022 Transformative Action Award ceremony. The winner is the Valea Jiului Development Society (Romania) with a project that focuses on strengthening local civil society, promoting sustainable development and fostering collaboration and equitable investments in the Jiu Valley, a former mining region.

How to reduce air, water and soil pollution will be the key topic of the Zero Pollution Stakeholder Platform Conference that will take place next 14 December in the European Commission's headquarters, which will open with messages from EC Executive Vice President, Frans Timmermans and the 1st Vice President of the European Committee of the Regions, Apostolos Tzitzikostas.

The CoR has signed an action plan with Climate-KIC for 2022-2024, with the aim to facilitate cooperation and promote shared goals and objectives in climate policies, biodiversity, regional development and citizens' engagement.

The ENVE commission appointed three rapporteurs: Åsa Ågren Wikström (SE/EPP), Member of Västerbotten County Council, on a legislative opinion on the Revision of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive. Una Power (IE/Greens), Councillor of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, on a legislative opinion on the Revision of the EU Ambient Air Quality Legislation. Andries Gryffroy (BE/EA), Member of the Flemish Parliament, on 'Fostering the potential and synergies of EU energy and climate initiatives for regions and cities'.

Members discussed the contribution of the ENVE Commission to the CoR Impact Report 2022 and the 2023 work programme which is to be adopted at the next ENVE commission meeting on February 14th.

Background information:

The documents of the meeting are accessible here.

The photos of the 15TH ENVE Commission are available here.

The photos of the ceremony of the 2022 Transformative Action Award are available here.

Contacts:

David Crous

Tel: +32 470 88 10 37

David.Crous@cor.europa.eu

Theresa Sostmann

Tel. +32 475 999 415

Theresa.Sostmann@cor.europa.eu


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