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News article22 September 2021Directorate-General for Environment4 min read

EU at UNGA: leading the movement for a nature-positive, carbon neutral and equitable world

Today, at the UN General Assembly in New York, governments, financial institutions, business representatives and philanthropists announced game changing transformative actions for nature and people while negotiations for a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework are advancing. The EU was represented by President von der Leyen who announced last week – and reiterated again at today’s event –  that the European Union will double its external funding for biodiversity, in particular for the most vulnerable countries, showing leadership which must now be matched by countries and institutions across the globe.

The announcements were made at the Transformative Action for Nature and People High Level event on the margins of the UN General Assembly, which brought together more than 20 presidents and prime ministers, as well as indigenous community leaders and leaders from the worlds of finance, philanthropy, civil society to commit to momentous action for nature, climate and people.

President von der Leyen said:

I would like to offer to all our partners to step up our cooperation on protecting nature and biodiversity. I am proud to announce that the European Union will double its funding for biodiversity, in particular for the most vulnerable countries, in our new seven-year budget. This will support an ambitious and more effective new Global Biodiversity Framework.

World leaders including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez, and Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria, all made contributions to the event, which was held in New York and virtually.

The event also included news from Finance for Biodiversity Pledge that 75 financial institutions from around the globe are committing to protecting and restoring biodiversity through their finance activities and investments. Each will assess their impact on nature, set targets and disclose their progress in their annual reports before 2025, thereby making an important contribution to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030 and reducing any existing investments which are harmful to nature.

Today’s event, which opened the Nature for Life Hub 2021, sends a strong signal to countries to step up their ambition to protect and restore nature ahead of the COP26 climate conference taking place in Glasgow, UK, in November and the COP15 biodiversity conference taking place in Kunming, China in April/May 2022. The significant financing announcements are seen as essential to spurring additional investments in nature and to  ending harmful investments which together will plug the substantial financing gap to implement a new biodiversity framework due to be agreed at the COP15 – a funding shortfall currently estimated at $700 billion per year.

The event also highlighted the growing momentum for the adoption of an ambitious, effective and transformative post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework at COP 15, with new endorsers of different political coalitions. President von der Leyen has been amongst the early endorsers of the Leaders Pledge for Nature, backed by now 91 Heads of State and Government representing 37% of global GDP and over a quarter of world population, committing to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. Under the High Ambition Coalition for nature and people, the European Commission and more than 70 countries support a target to protect at least 30% of the world’s land and ocean by 2030. Together with the endorsers of the Global Ocean Alliance and other international commitments, 100 countries now support a target to protect at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030.


Under the European Green Deal, the European Commission adopted its EU Biodiversity Strategy last year, which aims to put Europe's biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030. It commits to establishing a larger EU-wide network of effectively managed protected areas covering 30% of land and 30% of sea, with one third of this area strictly protected. The Strategy also sets out a wide range of commitments and measures aimed at restoring nature, enabling the necessary transformational change and expresses the Commission's determination to mobilise all tools of external action and international partnerships to help develop and implement an ambitious new UN Global Biodiversity Framework.

Mobilizing resources for biodiversity in partner countries is essential for addressing the global risks linked to ecosystem degradation, deforestation and wildlife trafficking. Investing in nature positive activities means also investing in jobs and business opportunities while ensuring a truly 'green' recovery from the crisis. This means investments in nature protection and restoration – including forests and wetlands, rivers and coastal areas, organic farming, and in green and blue infrastructure. This will include supporting key initiatives such as NaturAfrica and the Great Green Wall.

The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature provides a holistic roadmap for the next 10 years to address the planetary emergency in an integrated way, recognising the mutually reinforcing climate and biodiversity crises, the links with One Health and the vital importance of such action to build back better and greener. Leaders and non-state supporters commit to urgent action, addressing the key drivers of biodiversity loss and mainstreaming biodiversity into relevant sectoral and cross-sectoral policies at all levels, including key sectors such as food production, agriculture, fisheries and forestry, energy, tourism, infrastructure and extractive industries, trade and supply chains.


Publication date
22 September 2021
Directorate-General for Environment

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