On Wednesday July 12, European lawmakers approved a bill that now requires countries in the EU to restore 20% of natural areas within their own terrestrial and aquatic borders. The bill is a key element in the bloc’s Green Deal environmental initiative. This bill had a strenuous journey to get approved through Parliament, many negotiations, modifications, and amendments went into the solidification of the policy. Many environmentalists also went face-to-face with lawmakers and native farmers in order to push for the enactment. 

“It’s a huge social victory. It’s good for everybody. Because if you have healthy ecosystems, then the economic systems which depend on these ecosystems are going to be healthy themselves,” stated Spanish lawmaker, César Luena.

The center-right European People’s Party and local farmers were the main opposers of the bill. Together they argued that the policy would threaten food production, and would impose harm upon farmers and increase inflation. The party’s leader, Manfred Web, requested a measure that would withdraw the proposed policy and draft a new one. Unfortunately for them, majority of the EU lawmakers rejected this measure. Opposing the party’s view, environmentalists, scientists, community groups, and businesses have denounced the claim that it would threaten food production. They put forth an argument that had climate change and nature degradation at the forefront as the highest threat. The proposed policy would in fact sustain and stabilize food production. 

Restoring degraded lands is key to improving global biodiversity and providing relief from climate change. Addressing these challenges and finding viable solutions for the biodiversity crisis can help save millions of plants and animals on their way to extinction. This new policy is one of the first physical examples of global governments committing to their promises. More than 61,000 people died in 2022 from extreme heat in Europe, and 30,000 were displaced in Northern Italy due to extreme floods. Europe has no other choice than to back strong restoration efforts in order to maintain food production and achieve the net-zero GHG target put forth across the bloc by 2050. This restoration bill is seen as a necessity for Europe’s future.