On 4 October 2018, IUCN hosted a reception with the Austrian government on its environmental priorities during its term in office as the presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Maria Patek, Director General for Forestry and Sustainability in the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism, highlighted the importance of the upcoming Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in Egypt in November, indicating its relevance for EU biodiversity policy in the post-2020 period. She reminded participants that the conclusions from the EU Council meeting on 9 October will form the basis of the EU position during the CBD COP.
In his introduction, Luc Bas, Director, IUCN European Regional Office, emphasised the need for the conservation community to focus more on the drivers of biodiversity loss, including unsustainable agriculture and land use. The EU can make a big difference in the coming months by thoroughly reviewing its policies and their impact on nature, he said. He noted the positive signals from Austrian Minister Elisabeth Köstinger aimed at further encouraging farmers to become environmentalists.
Stefan Leiner, Head of the Biodiversity Unit at the European Commission’s Environment Directorate, gave the position of the EU executive on the current environmental challenges. Patrick ten Brink, Director of EU Policy at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), discussed the need to tackle the effect of unsustainable agriculture on biodiversity.
The speeches were followed by discussion and networking amongst European environmental actors.