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Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues, dear friends,

I am pleased to speak at this year’s European Space Conference. I remember well when we met one year ago and discussed how space has become a key component of the global security equation and how the rise in geo-political tensions we see on Earth are being extended and projected into the space.

A One Planet Summit on Biodiversity was held in Paris on 11 January 2021, under the leadership of President Macron, gathering an impressive number of political leaders and CEOs, pledging to reverse the destruction of nature.

Biodiversity is our life insurance, but it is under threat. The Covid crisis has dramatically changed our lives; and it has also brought to the forefront the crucial need to better preserve biodiversity. Our lives and economies rely on nature. This high-level meeting is a major milestone for the political mobilization for nature in 2021, the year that should lead to an ambitious new international agreement on biodiversity.

The European Commission has launched an online public consultation on the development of legally binding EU nature restoration targets. As a key element of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the European Green Deal, restoring Europe’s damaged ecosystems will help to increase biodiversity, mitigate and adapt to climate change, and prevent and reduce the impacts of natural disasters. The Commission will put forward a proposal for legally binding EU nature restoration targets by the end of 2021.

Today, the European Commission proposes to modernize EU legislation on batteries, delivering its first initiative among the actions announced in the new Circular Economy Action Plan. Batteries that are more sustainable throughout their life cycle are key for the goals of the European Green Deal and contribute to the zero pollution ambition set in it. They promote competitive sustainability and are necessary for green transport, clean energy and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The proposal addresses the social, economic and environmental issues related to all types of batteries. Batteries placed on the EU market should become sustainable, high-performing and safe all along their entire life cycle.

The youth of Uzbekistan has united within the framework of the #BeTheWave eco-challenge to promote their ideas on preserving the environment. The event has merged into the #EU4Environment Week, organized by the EU Delegation in Uzbekistan with the support of the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Ecology and Environmental Protection, as well as the Center for the Hydrometeorological Service "Uzhydromet"

Today, the Africa-Europe Foundation was established by Friends of Europe and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, in partnership with ONE and the Africa Climate Foundation. The opening ceremony was attended by various personalities from both continents, including the President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen. The Foundation is an independent forum, driving fresh policy thinking and strategic foresight across inter-connected sectors of cooperation.

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