Europe

Our work

Photo: Giuseppe Milo

IUCN Europe provides key links to EU institutions and is the focal point for Europe's nature policies and partnerships. Our mission is to influence, encourage and assist countries in Europe to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature, and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.

Centerpiece of the EU nature and biodiversity legislation is the Natura 2000 network of protected areas. This network has been established under the Habitats and Birds directives - also known as the Nature Directives. IUCN Europe continues to push for a full implementation of this crucial piece of EU legislation, as the Member States are not going to achieve the targets they set out in the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020.

According to the IUCN European Red List assessment of the conservation status of over 10,000 European species, 22% of European animal species are now threatened with extinction. The most important threats to biodiversity in Europe are climate change, invasive species and habitat destruction.

The policy responses to these threats are closely monitored from the IUCN European Regional Office which continues to push for  European leadership, for example in the global fight against climate change. The Brussels secretariat has actively engaged in the debate to include emissions from land use and forestry in the carbon accounting of the EU and is collaborating closely with the German government on the Bonn Challenge which aims to globally restore 150 million hectares of forest landscape by 2020. IUCN is also engaging with the recently introduced Regulation on Invasive Alien Species through the provision of scientific knowledge.

Another central focus area for the European Regional Office is the UN Sustainable Development Agenda. The Brussels office has worked closely with EU institutions to ensure the interconnectedness of the three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental) in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, adopted in September 2015.

The IUCN European Regional Office also actively works to promote the concept of nature-based solutions. Using nature to tackle some of the most pressing challenges of our time can be cost-effective, help safeguard the environment and halt biodiversity loss, and provide numerous economic and social benefits by improving quality of life, creating jobs and stimulating innovation. By engaging with policy makers at EU, regional and local levels, but also with scientists, planners, practitioners, land owners, business and civil society, IUCN Europe actively seeks to promote the benefits of nature-based solutions, and raise awareness of their potential to tackle a wide range of societal challenges.

IUCN recognises the importance of engaging with the recently published Circular Economy Package which aims to lead member states away from their current linear economic models. The European Commission’s proposal represents a major step in the right direction, however more action is needed to drive the paradigm shift needed to move towards a cleaner, greener society.

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