Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

Speech by European Commission President von der Leyen at the UN Biodiversity Summit

30/09/2020 - 16:49
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30 September 2020, Speech by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, at the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity

von der Leyen at UN Biodiversity Summit

Mr. President,


Ladies and gentlemen,

What do we need to make the case for biodiversity loud and clear?

Figures? For years, scientists have provided us with the most striking figures of species at risk of disappearing.

But it was not enough.

 Pictures? For years, photographers and documentary makers have provided us with moving and breath-taking visuals of species at risk of disappearing.

But it was not enough.

Do we need to be affected directly and massively in our life?

Like a pandemic? A world pandemic locking us in at home, with no possibility to travel? A pandemic caused by a zoonotic disease?

 Mr. President,


Ladies and gentlemen,

Isn't it telling that it is precisely such a pandemic that prevents us from meeting in person for this United Nations Biodiversity Summit?

That it is a pandemic that made it necessary to postpone the COP 15 in Kunming from October 2020 to the second half of 2021?

Dear friends,

We have all the information needed to understand.

Climate change and biodiversity loss are happening before our eyes.

And they reinforce each other.

We need to stop this loop of doom.

That is driving me as President of the European Commission.

After just 11 days in office, I presented the European Green Deal.

It is our vision and roadmap for making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

To achieve this,we set out fifty actions for 2050.

In March, we proposed the first ever continental climate law.

Then the pandemic came into our lives.

Now, should we stop our course because of the pandemic?

Of course not.

This is why we also adopted our 'EU biodiversity strategy for 2030' in May 2020.

The Biodiversity Strategy tackles the key drivers of biodiversity loss:

Unsustainable use of land and sea, overexploitation of natural resources, pollution, and global warming.

The strategy proposes legal obligations, targets and actions:

-    to restore damaged ecosystems and rivers;

-    to improve the health of EU protected habitats and species;

-    and to bring back pollinators to agricultural lands;

But also

-    to green our cities;

-    to enhance organic farming;

-    and to improve the health of European forests.

Just to name a few.

Biodiversity is much more than only nature protection.

The link with our food system is so strong that we adopted our 'Farm to Fork strategy' in parallel, the same day.

The two are mutually reinforcing.

Today, we are calling on everyone who is willing to join our action to halt biodiversity loss.

The community of those, who want to move forward, is becoming bigger and stronger every day:

Development and humanitarian organisations;

Companies and cities;

Youth and faith organisations;

And of course all countries and regions around the world who want to address biodiversity loss.

This is really why we are joining forces today.

To team up, and provide determined leadership.

Our aim is a new Global Biodiversity Framework in Kunming next year.

We want global rules that are clear, measurable, that allow us to hold each other to account.

And above all, rules that will protect species and strengthen our resilience and our well-being.

Let us make this our common mission.

You can count on my commitment.

Thank you.

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