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EU's Nature Restoration Law: unlocking cities and regions' potential to put nature on the path to recovery  

​Biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation continue at an alarming rate in the EU and worldwide. Up to 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species on Earth are at risk of extinction — many of them within decades — according to the UN. In Europe, the European Commission estimates that more than 80 percent of the habitats are in “poor” shape. Although the EU has a legal framework, strategies and action plans to protect nature and restore habitats and species, restoration has been small-scale, and the implementation and enforcement of legislation has been insufficient. It is in this context that the European Committee of the Regions welcomes the European Commission's EU Nature Restoration Law, especially its first ever legally binding targets and calls for streamlining biodiversity funding and provide technical support to cities and regions.

Food and energy security should not jeopardise the implementation of the Nature Restoration Law and other environmental legislation, members recalled in an opinion on the EU's Nature Restoration Law adopted at the plenary session on 9 February.

EU cities and regions reiterate their call to be involved in the definition of Nature Restoration Plans together with national governments – stressing they are the ones implementing restoration measures on the ground. Likewise, local and regional leaders request that nature restoration measures are integrated within National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs), considering the objectives of Repower EU for greater energy sovereignty and ensuring that renewable energy projects do not compete – but rather support- nature restoration objectives.

Rapporteur Roby Biwer (LU/PES), member of the Bettembourg city council, said "COP15 in Montreal historically agreed on a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, in which cities and regions are involved. With the new EU Nature Restoration Law, the EU is changing the paradigm, by seeking to manage habitats to facilitate the restoration of biodiversity that is suffering increasing loss. Synergising the climate and biodiversity agendas is an imperative challenge for this century. However, our Union will be a global leader only if EU cities and regions are fully involved in this process. The success of the Nature Restoration Law largely depends on implementation and the quality of measures applied at local and regional level, with cities and regions well equipped with adequate financial means and qualified technical assistance. Large-scale nature restoration now needs to be a must!"

EU cities and regions urge Member States to take into account local and regional restoration needs and priorities and focus on highly vulnerable ecosystems and threatened species – constantly involving local and regional communities to deliver on the socio-economic, geographical and environmental specificities of each territory. Members emphasize that restoring nature in urban areas and cities is essential as it provides ecosystem services and clear biodiversity benefits.

Members stress that the current public funding gap on biodiversity should be reversed with nature restoration-targeted financial instruments, easily accessible for Local and Regional Authorities (LRAs) to reverse biodiversity loss in their territories including urban areas. The EU's assembly of cities and regions calls for earmarked national funding streams in full alignment with the identified priorities and needs of LRAs.

The Committee proposes to incentivise private investments in biodiversity protection and the restoration of ecosystems by piloting and expanding the use of market-based instruments, such as impact investment, payment for ecosystem services (PES) or land-based carbon removal credits.

Local and regional authorities often lack the resources and the expertise to effectively design, execute and monitor restoration actions. The Committee therefore asks the European Commission to set up a comprehensive technical support system for cities and regions, including capacity building programmes, guidance on accessing funding and on aligning monitoring and reporting instruments in addition to promoting the exchange and replication of best practices.

Members recall the Nature Directives implementation gap and calls for stronger enforcement mechanisms The Committee proposes a standardised monitoring and reporting system that allows for streamlined methods to identifying restoration areas, assessing the status of ecosystems and setting satisfactory indicator levels and monitoring targets.

Together with Frida Nilsson (SE/Renew), Member of Linköping Municipality, Sweden, rapporteur Roby Biwer (LU/PES) represented EU cities and regions at the United Nations conference on biodiversity - COP15. The CoR joined forces with subnational governments worldwide securing a stronger recognition and support for local and regional governments in halting ecosystems degradation and restoring biodiversity. As a result, the CoR is explicitly mentioned in the COP15 decision as key partner for supporting the implementation of the Plan of Action on subnational governments to the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.


The European Commission’s proposal for a Nature Restoration Law is the first continent-wide, comprehensive law of its kind. It is a key element of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, which calls for binding targets to restore degraded ecosystems, in particular those with the most potential to capture and store carbon and to prevent and reduce the impact of natural disasters.


David Crous

Tel. +32 470 88 10 37

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