Protecting biodiversity and water quality in European Lakes  

EU cities and regions defend the establishment of a new sustainable development strategy for lakes in Europe

On 28 and 29 June, the Commission for Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE) of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) held an external meeting in Balatonfüred, located on Hungary's Balaton lake. ENVE's agenda included a conference on the sustainable development of lake regions in Europe, the adoption of opinions on plastics in the circular economy and biodiversity and two exchanges of views on the 8th Environment Action Programme and local energy communities. István Bóka (HU/EPP), Mayor of Balatonfüred and CoR member since March 2011 hosted ENVE's two-day meeting.  

From urbanisation to water pollution and climate change impacts, lakes are fragile ecosystems and delicate biodiversity reserves that require specific interventions. With the presence of representatives from lakes Constance, Garda, Neusiedl and Vänern, the conference Sustainable Development in the European Lake Regions was the occasion to exchange best practices and contribute to an EU lake development strategy that goes beyond current sectorial policies. Speakers also addressed the complexity and importance of the natural and economic value of lakes and freshwater bodies in Europe.

In his opening speech, Cor Lamers (NL/EPP), Mayor of Schiedam and ENVE Chair said: "We need to ensure that all communities have adequate resources to properly implement environmental legislation in their specific contexts. This is a key challenge in the current debate on the future budget of the EU. The resources needed are not only financial. Local authorities require skills, knowledge and exchange of best practices to find the best ways to preserve their biodiversity. Green and blue infrastructure as well as ecosystem services should be developed more to better understand the advantages that the environment can bring to people and the economy."

István Bóka (HU/EPP), Mayor of Balatonfüred and Chairman of the Lake Balaton Development Council declared: “Lake Balaton spreads to three counties and includes 180 municipalities. It is an illustrative example of the need to develop harmonised, integrated and collaborative strategies for an effective and sustainable management of lakes". Mayor István Bóka welcomed the declaration supported by the lake leaders present at the conference as it    "recognises the environmental, economic and social value of lakes, acknowledges their rich biodiversity and heavily exposure to natural and human-made changes and calls for adequate resources to ensure an integrated management of European lakes."

During the ENVE meeting, members adopted unanimously a draft opinion on a 'European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy' by rapporteur André Van de Nadort (NL/PES). The opinion is to be adopted at the plenary session 8-10 October 2018. The rapporteur stressed that in order to address the growing problem of plastic waste, we need a holistic approach based on “less plastic, better plastic and more recycling."

Members unanimously adopted the opinion on 'The contribution of EU cities and regions to the Fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP14) and the post-2020 EU Biodiversity Strategy'. ENVE Vice-chair Roby Biwer will take part and defend the CoR main messages at the CBD COP14 to take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, from 17 – 29 November 2018. The opinion is to be adopted at the plenary session 8-10 October 2018.

Rapporteur Biwer said: "We have to react more strongly to counter species decline. It is not only about holding biodiversity loss but about restoring ecosystems.  Europe is leading in protecting biodiversity but we need to strengthen our governance model and ensure regional governments are formally recognised in the Global Biodiversity Framework post-2020. We have the duty to raise the ambitions in the post-Aichi decade 2020-2030 and ensure the eradication of invasive alien species, illegal trading, destruction of habitats and killing of wildlife."

Members had two exchanges of views. One on the '8th Environment Action Programme' by rapporteur and ENVE Chair Cor Lamers (NL/EPP) and the other on 'Models of local energy ownership and the role of local energy communities in Europe's energy transition' by rapporteur Mariana Gâju (RO/PES), Mayor of Cumpăna, Constanța County, Romania. Both opinions will be adopted during the 5-6 December plenary session.

Pictures from the event are available on flickr.

Contact: David Crous | +32 (0) 470 88 10 37 | david.crous@cor.europa.eu