Open Letter for the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF Committee)

 

 

An Open letter addressed to the members of the PAFF committee and the Commission as chair, in advance of the PAFF meeting this week. The letter is signed by 58 organisations across Europe, including trade unions (representing agriculture workers), environmental, health and beekeeper organisations (including the organisers of the European Citizens Initiative “Save Bees and Farmers”), as well as the European umbrella organisation for organic food and farming.

 The letter says:

Dear representatives of national governments, members of the PAFF Committee,

Dear Chair of the PAFF Committee,

We are writing on behalf of 58 organisations across Europe in view of the next PAFF Committee meeting on 14-15 July when you will discuss the draft Commission Implementing Regulation under Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 on “the content and format of the records of the use of plant protection products to be kept by professional users in accordance with Article 67(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009” (see Agenda, item C.01).

First of all, we would like to state that we welcome the agreement reached on the new regulation on agricultural input and output statistics (SAIO), in particular the obligation to collect and publish data on the use of pesticides on an annual basis. Evidence of unacceptable harm from extensive pesticide use, whether to biodiversity,1 or to agricultural workers, is piling up.Keeping track of what pesticides are used where when and how is therefore of utmost importance.

Beyond the need to analyse trends in the use of pesticides, precise and public data on pesticides use are also indispensable to enabling more realistic analysis of the exposure of agriculture workers and residents in rural areas, as well as the exposure of wildlife and ecosystems. Such data are also key to monitoring water, notably for drinking water suppliers. They are crucial for many other necessary tasks that are in the public interest. It is, in addition, a topic of great importance to millions of EU citizens. The issue of pesticides was indeed the subject matter of the recent European Citizens’ Initiative “Save Bees and Farmers” which gathered approximately 1.2 million signatures across Europe. That is why, as trade unions, environmental, health and beekeeper organisations including the organisers of the European Citizens Initiative Save Bees and Farmers, as well as the European umbrella organisation for organic food and farming, we have been following closely the negotiations on the new regulation on the Statistics for Agriculture Input and Output (SAIO) with a particular focus on pesticide use data. As explained in multiple open letters and public statements, it was already clear in 1993 that public authorities needed meaningful data on pesticide use to be able to protect people and the environment properly. On the basis of the outcome of the trilogue, we believe the new SAIO regulation has the potential to lead to much improved pesticide use data.

However, according to the text agreed, the annual collection of pesticide use data will only start in 2028 and if an Implementing Regulation harmonising the content and format of the pesticide use records is adopted. This is a major factor of uncertainty of the SAIO reform that now has to be fxed in the context of the PAFF Committee. The Commission has prepared an informal draft Implementing Regulation which will be presented on 13-14 July. Furthermore, the Commission has committed to follow a strict timeline. This timeline is laid out in the attached document we obtained following an access to document request to the Secretariat of the Council (see Annex).

The SAIO reform and its ability to fnally deliver robust pesticide use data is now in the hands of the PAFF Committee. It is the moment for national governments to show to their citizens that they are serious about improving the quality and availability of pesticide use data and protecting the health of people and the environment against pesticides.

We therefore call on:

  1. Each national government represented in the PAFF Committee to adhere to the Commission’s timeline, i.e. cooperate in good faith to ensure that the draft Implementing Regulation is formally adopted by the end of 2022.
  2. The European Commission to adhere to the timeline set out in the attached statement, as well as publish without delay the latest version of the draft Implementing Regulation in order to allow civil society to review this draft and participate in a constructive manner to this important decision making process. Thank you for your consideration. Yours sincerely,

     

    Alice Bernard Senior Law and Policy Advisor, Chemicals, ClientEarth

    Natalija Svrtan Campaigner, PAN Europe

    Helmut Burtscher-Schaden Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Austria, GLOBAL 2000

 

See the entire Open Letter HERE : Call to adopt without delay the Implementing Regulation …

https://www.env-health.org › uploads › 2022/07

For the 50th Time We Celebrate World Environment Day

 

World Environment Day is celebrated every year on June 5 in order to raise awareness about degrading environmental conditions and protection of the environment.

World Environment Day has been a platform for raising awareness on environmental issues such as marine pollution, overpopulation, global warming, sustainable consumption, and wildlife crime.The

Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), environmentalists encourage people to take positive actions and to help create a better future. This year marks the 50th year of the World Environment Day.

History

The idea of ‘World Environment Day’ was first introduced at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment – also known as the Stockholm conference in 1972. The conference had become the first world  forum to have ‘environment’ on its agenda. Along with the day, the conference saw the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme. First held in 1973, the day is a global platform for public outreach, with participation from over 143 countries annually. Each year, the program has provided a theme and forum to advocate environmental causes. A different country hosts the day every year.

Theme

Being hosted by Sweden this year, the slogan for the World Environment day 2022 is “Only One Earth”. The theme is set to focus on “living sustainably in harmony with nature.”

United General Secretary-General António Guterres in his message for World Environment Day said, “It is vital we safeguard the health of its atmosphere, the richness and diversity of life on Earth, its ecosystems, and its finite resources. But we are failing to do so.”

He further added, “We are asking too much of our planet to maintain ways of life that are unsustainable. This planet is our only home.”

 

Joint Statement Concerning Urgent Need for Precise Public Data on the Use of Pesticides across Europe

Statement of 76 organisations on the state of play of the negotiations on the revision of EU rules on pesticides statistics

The undersigned organisations express their deep concerns about the direction the negotiations within trilogues are taking on the reform of the agriculture statistics regulation (SAIO).[1] We call upon the Member States to support the European Parliament’s proposals ensuring precise data on the use of pesticides are collected and published without further delay.

To ensure that European agriculture shifts away from pesticide intensive practices, we need precise public data on what pesticides are used where, when, on which crops and in what quantities. Such data would indeed:

  • Allow to measure meaningfully the progress and identify which sectors or crops and in which regions are facing difficulties to transition to sustainable agriculture practices;
  • Enable the work of independent scientists and the medical community to connect the dots between exposure to specific pesticides or a cocktail thereof and harm to the environment and/or people;
  • Enable the work of the public authorities to check whether the data submitted for pesticides authorisations actually matches the reality of their use;
  • Enable public authorities to list more efficiently which pesticides end up in water and must therefore be monitored, so that they can take appropriate measures to protect, for example, residents of rural areas, and biodiversity;
  • Rebuild trust of EU citizens in national governments, the EU institutions, and their willingness to protect public health and the environment despite the weight of private interests such as the agrochemical lobbies.

This trust of EU citizens is currently broken because it is obvious today that pesticide use and their risks for human health and the environment are out of control. Our legal system was meant to only allow pesticides that have i) no immediate or delayed harmful effect on human health ii) no unacceptable effects on plants and iii) no unacceptable effects on the environment.[2] Unfortunately, the way this authorisation system has been applied in practice raises very serious doubts as to the safety of the pesticides products on the EU market.[3] The evidence of unacceptable harm to biodiversity,[4] and to frontline workers – agriculture workers – is piling up.[5] This system does not even benefit economically the farmers themselves,[6] and alternatives to pesticide intensive agriculture exist and are feasible.[7]

In light of the proven impact of pesticides on public health and the environment, and the need to switch to alternative models of agriculture, the scarce amount of data on pesticide use collected and published is incomprehensible.[8] California has put in place a comprehensive and public database on this matter already in the 90s.[9] What is even more surprising is that the data exist but are left unexploited by public authorities. Indeed, farmers, and all other professional users of pesticides, are obliged – and have been obliged for more than 10 years – to keep at the disposal of public authorities records of the pesticides they use.[10] And yet, these records are not systematically collected. To access these records, the public – e.g. doctors, scientists, a union of agriculture workers or a water supply company, have no choice but to follow a lengthy and heavy procedure, which often requires going to court.

In light of the latest public information,[11] the negotiations seem to be progressing in a more positive direction. However, many key aspects are still extremely concerning and unclear. More specifically:

  • While we welcome the recognition by the French Presidency of the need to have yearly data on pesticide use as well as an electronic collection of the farmers’ records, we are deeply concerned by the compromise text proposed as it does not guarantee that the farmers’ records will be collected soon enough. Indeed, the first year this data would be collected would be 2028, i.e. in 6 Meanwhile, irreversible damages to people’s health and biodiversity are bound to occur due to out of control pesticide exposure.
  • There is also even a high risk that these records will actually never be collected, since this will depend on the harmonisation of a digital format to be decided in a separate procedure (implementing act under Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009) without any time constraints or possibility for the European Parliament to have a say.
  • While waiting for 2028, the compromise proposed suggests having only one survey (in 2026). This is insufficient to provide a clear picture of progress towards the reduction targets set for 2030 in the Farm to Fork Strategy. In addition, such a survey is only going to cover a selection of common crops between Member States and will only be defined later (via implementing acts) in a procedure in which the European Parliament will have no say.
  • Finally, while we welcome the recognition that the rules on access to documents and on access to environmental information remain fully applicable, the legal text proposed regarding the dissemination of the data leaves too much room for interpretation. It does not offer the necessary legal certainty that the data on all pesticide use and sales will actually be published per active substance in full compliance with the rules on access to environmental information.

In short, if the compromise text on these aspects became law, the data collected on pesticide use will be too little, too late, with a concerning uncertainty as to what will actually be published.

We, therefore, call on the negotiators, and in particular the Council, to take into account these concerns, and specifically to:

  1. Shorten the transition period for the first digital collection of all farmers’ records for all crops – to Speed is a matter of commitment and investment of national governments. This investment is long overdue: the need for pesticide use data was already acknowledged in 1993[12];
  2. Make the annual collection of the farmers’ records mandatory in the SAIO text. This collection shall be done by the national authorities in charge of the implementation of the pesticides regulation;
  3. Create an obligation for the Commission to adopt – by delegated act under SAIO – before 1st January 2023, the harmonised electronic format of the farmers’ records; At the very least, if this electronic format is to be defined under an implementing act under Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, this act shall then be adopted before July 2022;
  4. Adopt a provision on the dissemination of the data on pesticide use and sales similar to what the Parliament proposed stating explicitly and upfront what level of details will be published. It is essential that the data be published per active substance, area treated (ha) and per crop.

We also reiterate our concerns in relation to points that, to our knowledge, have not been discussed yet in the trilogues:

  • Data on pesticide use at least at the regional level (NUTS3) are key for the data to be useful. The data also needs to be sorted between pesticides used in organic farming and those used in conventional farming;
  • There are too many potential derogations in the Commission Proposal which could limit unduly the information transmitted to Eurostat regarding pesticides. These derogations or exemptions shall not apply to pesticide data since the data has been available for 10 years and their collection is long overdue.

For a truly modern and sustainable agriculture, governments must invest in the relevant data systems and put these data in the public domain where they belong. This cannot wait until 2028.

List of signatories:

ORGANISATIONSTATESIGNATORY
1 ADENYFR Sylvie Beltrami
2 Agroecology EuropeEU Lili Balogh
3 Alliance for Cancer PreventionUK Helen Lynn
4 Apicultural Research Educational CenterGR Fani Hatjina
5 ApimondiaGR Jeff Pettis
6 ÄrztInnen für eine gesunde UmweltAT Hanns Moshammer
7 Asociación Vida SanaES Ángeles Parra
8 Association Organic Gardens for EducationSI Anamarija Slabe
9 Aurelia StiftungDE Thomas Radetzki
10 BeelifeEU Noa Simon
11 Biom AssociationHR Željka Rajković
12 BirdLife Europe and Central AsiaEU Ariel Brunner
13 BirdLife The NetherlandsNL Cees Witkamp
14 BuglifeUK Matt Shardlow
15 Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)CH David Azoulay
16 ClientEarthEU Anaïs Berthier
17 Compassion in World FarmingEU Olga Kikou
18 Coordination gegen BAYER-GefahrenDE Jan Pehrke
19 Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)EU Nina Holland
20 Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V.DE Sascha Müller-Kraenner
21 Dutch Bee ConservationNL Maaike Molenaar
22 Earth ThriveUK/Serbia Zoe Lujic
23 Earth TrekHR Damir Grgić
24 Eco-HvarHR Vivan Grisogono
25 ECOCITY GR Eri Bizani
26 Ecodesign competence centreLV Jana Simanovska
27 Ecologistas en AcciónES Koldo Hernandez
28 EEBEU Jeremy Wates
29 EFFATEU Kristjan Bragason
30 ÉgalitéIT Dario Dongo
31 EPBAFR Cindy Adolphe
32 EURAFEU Gerry Lawson
33 EureauEU Oliver Loebel
34 FODESAMES Carlos de Prada
35 Friends of the Earth MaltaMT Martin Galea De Giovanni
36 Fundación Global Nature ES Eduardo de Miguel
37 Generations FuturesFR Nadine Lauverjat
38 Global 2000AT Helmut Burtscher-Schaden
39 Green Federation “GAIA”PL Jakub Skorupski
40 Health and Environment AllianceEU Angeliki Lysimachou
41 Hnutí DUHA (Friends of the Earth Czech Republic)CZ Anna Kárníková
42 Hogar sin Toxicos ES Carlos de Prada
43 Hungarian Agroecology Network AssociationHU Lili Balogh
44 IAWRDE Wolfgang Deinlein
45 IFOAM Organics EuropeEU Eric Gall
46 Institute Marquès ES Mireia Folguera
47 Integrated Resources Management Co ltd, (IRMCo)MT Anna Spiteri
48 Justice PesticidesFR Arnaud Apoteker
  ORGANISATIONSTATE SIGNATORY
49 Kecskeméti Szatyor Közösség EgyesületHU László Szigeti
50 Latvian Fund for NatureLV Baiba Vitajevska-Baltvilka
51 Lipu – BirdLife ItaliaIT Federica Luoni
52 LPNPT Inês Machado
53 Mouvement Ecologique LuxembourgLU Roger Dammé
54 Nature & Progrès BelgiqueBE Marc Fichers
55 Navdanya InternationalInternational Elisa Catalini
56 Neo-AgriFR and ES Sidney Flament-Ortun
57 NOAH – Friends of the Earth DenmarkDK June Rebekka Bresson
58 Pesticide Action Network (PAN) EuropeEU Martin Dermine
59 Pestizid Aktions-Netzwerk e.V. (PAN Germany)DE Susanne Smolka
60 PAN ItaliaIT Fabio Taffetani
61 Pesticide Action Network NetherlandsNL Margriet Mantingh
62 Plataforma Transgenicos ForaPT Lanka Horstink
63 Polish Ecological ClubPL Maria Staniszewska
64 PollinisFR Barbara Berardi Tadié
65 ROMAPISRO Constantin Dobrescu
66 SEO/BirdLifeES Tamara Rodríguez Ortega
67 Sociedad Españoña de Agricultura EcológicaES Concha Fabeiro
68 SNAFR Frank Alétru
69 SOS Faim BelgiumBE Jonas Jaccard
70 Stadtbienen e.V.DE Johannes Weber
71 SumOfUsInternational Eoin Dubsky
72 Umweltinstitut München e.V.DE Vera Baumert
73 Union Nationale de l’Apiculture FrançaiseFR Clémence Rémy
74 Via Pontica FoundationBG Ina Agafonova
75 WECF InternationalNL Sascha Gabizon
76 ZERO – Associação Sistema Terrestre SustentávelPT Pedro Horta

 

 

[1] Proposal for a Regulation related to statistics on agriculture input and output (SAIO): https://oeil.secure.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/ficheprocedure.do?reference=2021/0020(COD)&l=en

[2] See Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009

[3] European Journal of Risk Regulation , Volume 11 , Issue 3 , September 2020 , pp. 450 – 480 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/err.2020.18;   Impacts des produits phytopharmaceutiques sur la biodiversité et les services écosystémiques : résultats de l’expertise scientifique collective INRAE-Ifremer | INRAE INSTIT

[4] Goulson, D. Pesticides linked to bird declines. Nature 511, 295–296 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13642

[5] LeMonde, “Agriculteurs intoxiqués”: dans toute l’Europe, les maladies des pesticides abandonnés à leur sort, S. Horel, 17 February 2022 l

[6] Pesticides: a model that’s costing us dearly – Le Basic

[7] Poux and Aubert (2018) An agroecological Europe in 2050: multifunctional agriculture for healthy eating, IDDRI: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335054821_An_agroecological_Europe_in_2050_multifunctional_agriculture_for_healthy_eating_Findings_from_the_Ten_Years_For_Agroecology_TYFA_modelling_exercise

[8] Only very vague data are  collected and published – see  : https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-datasets/-/aei_pestuse

[9] Wilhoit, History of Pesticide Use Reporting in California, Chapter 1pp 3-14, ACS Symposium Series Vol. 1283 – see ACS Symposium Series (ACS Publications)

[10] Article 67 of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009

[11] The latest 4 column document published in the Council register on 23 May 2022 : pdf (europa.eu)

[12] See 5th Environment Action Programme that already defined as target “reduction of chemical inputs”; it also specifically set as an objective “the significant reduction in pesticides use per unit of land under production […] » by 2000 and foresaw as an actions: “registration of sales and use of pesticides”: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/archives/action-programme/env-act5/pdf/5eap.pdf

World Bee Day – 20 May

For centuries bees, among the hardest working creatures on the planet, have benefited people, plants and the environment. By carrying pollen from one flower to another, bees and other pollinators enable not only the production of an abundance of fruits, nuts and seeds, but also more variety and better quality, contributing to food security and nutrition.

Pollinators such as bees, birds and bats, affect 35 percent of the world’s crop production, increasing outputs of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide, plus many plant-derived medicines. Three out of four crops across the globe producing fruits or seeds for human use as food depend, at least in part, on pollinators.

Bee engaged – Celebrating the Diversity of Bees and Beekeeping Systems

Beekeeping is a widespread and global activity, with millions of beekeepers depending on bees for their livelihoods and well-being. Together with wild pollinators, bees play a major role in maintaining biodiversity, ensuring the survival and reproduction of many plants, supporting forest regeneration, promoting sustainability and adaptation to climate change, improving the quantity and quality of agricultural productions.

This year FAO celebrates World Bee Day through a virtual event, under the theme ‘Bee Engaged: Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems’

The event featuring bee and pollinator experts and practitioners from across the world is open with a video message by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu. The event raises awareness on the importance of the wide variety of bees and sustainable beekeeping systems, the threats and challenges they face and their contribution to livelihoods and food systems.

https://vod.fao.org/video/20220520-NSA-Zoom-en.mp4

The event is available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Russian languages.

Why a World Bee Day?

By observing World Bee Day each year, we can raise awareness on the essential role bees and other pollinators play in keeping people and the planet healthy, and on the many challenges they face today. We have been celebrating this day since 2018, thanks to the efforts of the Government of Slovenia with the support of Apimondia, that led the UN General Assembly to declare 20 May as World Bee Day.

The date for this observance was chosen as it was the day Anton Janša, a pioneer of modern apiculture, was born. Janša came from a family of beekeepers in Slovenia, where beekeeping is an important agricultural activity with a long-standing tradition.

Today bees, pollinators, and many other insects are declining in abundance. This day provides an opportunity for all of us – whether we work for governments, organizations or civil society or are concerned citizens – to promote actions that will protect and enhance pollinators and their habitats, improve their abundance and diversity, and support the sustainable development of beekeeping.

Timeline Leading to World Bee Day

20 May 1734 – Breznica, Slovenia Birth of Anton Janša, who came from a long line of beekeepers, became a pioneer of modern apiculture. Bees were a frequent topic of conversation with neighbouring farmers, who would gather at the village and discuss farming and bee-keeping practices.

1766 – Anton enrolled in the first bee-keeping school in Europe.

1769 – Janša worked fulltime as a beekeeper.

1771 – Published the book Discussion on Bee-keeping in German.

2016 – At the FAO Regional Conference for Europe, the Republic of Slovenia proposed World Bee Day to be celebrated on 20 May each year, with the support of Apimondia, the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Association.

2017 – Proposal for World Bee Day was submitted for consideration at the 40th Session of FAO Conference.

2017 – UN General Assembly unanimously proclaimed 20 May as World Bee Day.

20 May 2018 – First Observance of World Bee Day.

fao.org

 

Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Saving the Bees 
https://www.ecowatch.com/save-the-bees-guide-2655304561.html

Natura 2000 Awards: The Bulgarian Project “Natura 2000 – New Horizons” of the “Green Balkans” Won Communication Award

 

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the creation of the Natura 2000 network, the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius announced the winners of the 2022 edition of the Natura 2000 Awards. The six winners include projects from Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal, Spain and a cross-border project from Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

The Natura 2000 Awards recognise conservation success stories across the EU and raises awareness about one of Europe’s outstanding achievements – the Natura 2000 network of protected areas.

In addition to conservation on land, communication, socio-economic benefits, and cross-border cooperation, this year the Awards are handed out to an additional category – Marine Conservation. This is to raise the profile of the many important efforts going on all around the Union to step up protection for marine and coastal species and habitats. Furthermore, the Citizens’ Award goes to the winner of the online vote.

Commissioner Sinkevičius said:

Protecting and restoring the EU’s natural heritage and biodiversity is crucial to mitigate and adapt to climate change while preserving life on Earth for generations to come. For the last 30 years, thousands of conservation professionals, volunteers and stakeholders have worked to protect and restore nature, preserving the benefits it brings. These people have made the network the success it is today.  In competitions, the trophy always goes to one, but we should all feel winners today because, when nature is protected, the benefits are there for all of us.

Natura 2000 is an EU wide network of nearly 27 000 protected sites that covers more than 18% of EU land territory and about 9% of its marine areas. The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of our most valuable and threatened species and habitats. It is also the result of a unique process of cooperation between stakeholders at national levels, and among EU Member States, which demonstrate the value of EU cooperation. The good management of the network is at the core of the ambitious protection and restoration targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030which aims to put biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030, with benefits for people, climate and the planet.

About the winners:

This year, the European Citizen’s Award went to the project “Flora—Empowering Conservation Entrepreneurs in Austria”, led by the Blühendes Österreich and Birdlife Austria. The project aimed to secure long term management of high nature value farmland in Natura 2000 sites in Austria through the creation of specially-created partnerships with NGOs, communities and farmers, “the conservation entrepreneurs”. These areas are key to ensure the health of agroecosystems, which are vital for agricultural production and food security. The partnerships received financial support, technical advice and zoological-botanical monitoring to implement flagship projects. Over seven years FLORA supported 28 nature conservation projects, resulting in the enlargement and improvement of 19 protected habitat types and hundreds of species.

The winners in the other five categories are:

The Conservation on Land Award went to the project “Adaptation of Eleonora’s falcon to climate change led by the University of Patras in Greece. This EU LIFE-funded ElClimA project implemented a range of actions aimed to facilitate Eleonora’s Falcon adaptation to climate change focusing on the improvement of its breeding performance over seven Natura 2000 sites. These actions included a rat eradication programme to prevent egg predation, installing artificial nests for optimal egg temperature regulation, and ensuring food sources from passerine birds by planting fruit trees, bushes and cereals to increase stopover times. The actions resulted in an impressive 42% increase in breeding success of the Eleanora’s falcons across the seven sites.

The Bulgarian communication campaign “Natura 2000 in Bulgaria: new horizons”, implemented by Green Balkans, won the Communication Award. This high-profile communication initiative funded by the EU LIFE Programme sought to raise awareness about the Natura 2000 network in Bulgaria using flagship species and habitats to communicate key aspects of Natura 2000. The estimated outreach is 4.5 million people through its work. The campaign produced and distributed audio, visual and written content through online streams, daily and weekly newsletters and a YouTube channel. National events and webinars were also organised. These efforts have resulted in nature-related issues receiving more attention in the media, and in the public as a whole.

The Socio-Economic Benefits Award, which recognises initiatives that demonstrate that nature conservation and economic development can go hand-in-hand, went to “Social inclusion and managing invasive alien species”. This project, led by the AMICA association and supported by the EU LIFE funding programme, aimed to eradicate pampas grass from five coastal Natura 2000 sites in Cantabria in Spain, while also addressing the serious difficulties faced by people with disabilities in entering the labor market. The project employed 22 people with disabilities to remove the invasive grass and replant natural vegetation, encouraging capacity building and social integration in addition to habitat conservation. In addition to the employees, a further 40 people with disabilities gained experience through volunteer activities.

The Marine Conservation Award went to the achievements of “Fishermen and seabirds, allies for the sea”, implemented by SPEA – Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves. This initiative, funded by the EU LIFE Programme and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, addressed the threats to seabirds posed by commercial fishing nets or hooks, by developing various mitigation measures. Through working closely with fishermen, one a device was developed which is highly effective in reducing bird by-catch. This device, dubbed the “scary bird decoy” scared seabirds away from fishing equipment and significantly reduced the number of birds caught in the gear. As the device is simple to use and highly effective, all fishermen involved in the trial continue to use it, and further work is being done to extend its use to other fishing vessels.

Evaluate the dark side with the CaveLife app”, led by the German Speleological Federation, won the Cross Border Cooperation and Networking Award. The project developed the CaveLife smartphone app, which allows amateur cavers to contribute to the assessment of underground habitats and species by uploading data to a centralized database. Few official assessments of underground habitats exist, and this application allows hundreds of volunteer speleologists across Europe to contribute to building a database of cave knowledge. This data can then be used by conservation authorities to make more informed decisions in their work. The app is available in English and German and is already being used in Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland; a French version of the app is being developed.

Background

The Award is open to anyone directly involved in management of or communication about the EU’s Natura 2000 network – businesses, government bodies, NGOs, volunteers, land owners/users, educational institutions or individuals. This year, a total of 40 applications from across Europe were received, out of which 21 projects were shortlisted. A high-level jury then selected the winners.

ec.europa.eu

European Maritime Day in My Country 2022

For another year, the Via Pontica Foundation is participating in the European Commission’s initiative “European Maritime Day in my country” on the occasion of the European Maritime Day 2022.

The European Maritime Day (EMD) is an annual two-day event during which Europe’s maritime community meets to network, discuss and outline joint action on maritime affairs and the sustainable blue economy. This year’s edition will take place in Ravenna, Italy on 19-20 May. The theme for 2022 is ‘Sustainable blue economy for green recovery’.

But stakeholders don’t have to wait until the main event in May to get involved in the EMD’s 2022 activities. In fact, from 1 April ‘EMD In My Country’ events will start all over Europe. Continuing until 31 October, these events will take place in physical, virtual and hybrid formats. Last year, a record 2021 EMD In My Country events were held across 25 countries and all EU sea basins. As 2022 is the European Year of Youth, the organisers are notably looking for events focused on youth activities.

On this occasion, the Via Pontica Foundation organized an Eco Workshop – creating art objects with waste materials in the Vaya Ecopark for Biodiversity and Alternative Tourism, with an emphasis on the birds in the Ecopark.

Children and parents who have an interest in the environment are invited to participate in the nature conservation, waste processing and their transformation into useful and beautiful things. The Eco Workshop aims the visitors not only to develop their aesthetics and skills in the production of various items from waste materials , but to build a worldview and desire to protect nature and to be convinced that every small step taken in this direction is positive influence.

Healed Birds Were Released into the Lake Vaya

 

Healed birds, cured with the help of the team of the Wildlife Rescue Center – Stara Zagora, were released today at the Ecopark “Vaya” near Burgas.
Vaya Ecopark for Biodiversity and Alternative Tourism is located near the Vaya Lake of the same name, which is the largest natural lake in Bulgaria. It is part of Natura 2000 and is a protected area.

 

The cooperation with the Wildlife Rescue Center – Stara Zagora of the NGO “Green Balkans” is very active and as a result the lake often provides shelter for birds rescued from poaching and is a natural environment and safe place to restore cured birds, injured migrants and rare birds in trouble.

 

79 NGOs and Farmers Associations, Including Via Pontica, Call for Meaningful Pesticide Statistics

Together with 78 environmental and farming organisations, Via Pontica Foundation signed a letter calling for strong farming pesticide statistics.

Plant protection products (PPPs) are pesticides used to protect crops. The EU framework aims to achieve sustainable use of PPPs by reducing risks and impacts on human health and environment and promoting integrated pest management. The Commission and Member States have taken action to promote the sustainable use of PPPs but there has been limited progress in measuring and reducing the associated risks.

Applying integrated pest management is compulsory for farmers, but not a requirement for receiving payments under the common agricultural policy and enforcement is weak. Available EU statistics and new risk indicators do not show how successful the policy has been in achieving a sustainable use of PPPs.

The revised Statistics on Agricultural Input and Output Regulation is in the final stages of the legislative process. While the European Parliament adopted a position that makes farm statistics fit for the future and meaningful to the public and for drinking water suppliers, Member State proposals fall far short of the Commission proposals and would make it impossible to measure progress towards the objectives set in the Farm to Fork Strategy.

NGOs and farmers’ associations make recommendations related to the verification of integrated pest management at farm level, the improvement of statistics on plant protection products and the development of better risk indicators. The same applies to biocides, fertilizers, animal health products and antibiotics in feed.

Better data will benefit everyone, from the general public, via farmers to drinking water suppliers. Let’s seize this opportunity!

Open letter from 79 organisations on the EU reform of pesticides statistics 25.02.2022

Anniversary Coin with Great Crested Grebe

 

Jubilee commemorative coin of high public and world importance, promoting the huge bird wealth of Bulgaria will be issued by the Bulgarian National Bank on the occasion of World Wetlands Day 2022. The silver coin, depicting a Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus), will have a face value of BGN 10 and a one-time weight of 23.33 g.

The issue was initiated by the Via Pontica Foundation with the support of the Municipality of Burgas and is based on the fact that most of the feathered diversity of Bulgaria is found near the Burgas Lake Complex, which includes the largest Bulgarian lake Vaya. The main stop on the Via Pontica – an ancient Roman road, coinciding with the invisible celestial highway of birds migrating from Europe to Africa, it can be called “Eldorado” of waterfowl, many of which are rare in Bulgaria, Europe and 9 of them for the world.

The commitment of the Via Pontica Foundation to biodiversity and conservation of the planet has been shared with many governmental and non-governmental organizations and is highly appreciated not only in Bulgaria but also worldwide, as the Via Pontica Foundation was appointed NGO Coordinator of CEPA of the Ramsar Convention for 2018-2020.

Together with one of the most active municipalities in the field of environmental protection in Bulgaria, given as an example of active work and good administrative capacity – Burgas Municipality, Via Pontica Foundation successfully implements national and international projects in the field of environmental protection and sustainable use of natural resources.

This Year We Celebrate February 2, World Wetlands Day, under the Auspices of the United Nations

 

General Assembly of the United Nations, in its 75th session of 30 August 2021, adopted the Resolution on World Wetlands Day. The Resolution was co-sponsored by 75 Member States and can be found in the six official languages of the United Nations at the following address: https://undocs.org/en/A/75/L.125.

The Secretariat is bringing the present Resolution to the attention of all Member States, the organizations of the United Nations system and other relevant stakeholders, including civil society organizations, academia and the private sector, for appropriate observance.

Resolution

The General Assembly,

Reaffirming its resolution 70/1 of 25 September 2015, entitled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, in which it adopted a comprehensive, far-reaching and people-centred set of universal and transformative Sustainable Development Goals and targets, its commitment to working tirelessly for the full implementation of the Agenda by 2030, its recognition that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, and its commitment to achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – in a balanced and integrated manner, and to building upon the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals and seeking to address their unfinished business,

Reaffirming also its resolutions 53/199 of 15 December 1998 and 61/185 of 20 December 2006 on the proclamation of international years, and Economic and Social Council resolution 1980/67 of 25 July 1980 on international years and anniversaries, particularly paragraphs 1 to 10 of the annex thereto on the agreed criteria for the proclamation of international years, as well as paragraphs 13 and 14, in which it is stated that an international day or year should not be proclaimed before the basic arrangements for its organization and financing have been made,

Reaffirming further that wetlands are critical to people and nature, given the intrinsic value of these ecosystems, and their benefits and services, including their environmental, climate, ecological, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic contributions to sustainable development and human well-being,

Acknowledging that wetlands are among the ecosystems with the highest rates of decline, loss and degradation, and considering that indicators of current negative trends in global biodiversity and ecosystem functions are projected to continue in response to direct and indirect drivers such as rapid human population growth, unsustainable production and consumption and associated technological development, as well as the adverse impacts of climate change,

Taking into account that wetlands are essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals related to poverty eradication, food and nutrition, healthy living, gender equality, water quality and availability, energy supply, the reduction of natural disasters, innovation and the development of appropriate infrastructure, sustainable and resilient human settlements, the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, oceans, seas and marine resources, biodiversity and the sustainable use of ecosystems,

Recalling Sustainable Development Goal 6, which focuses on ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, and its target 6.6, which seeks to protect and restore water-related ecosystems; Goal 14, on the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, including its target 14.2, which seeks to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems; and Goal 15, related to life on land, and its target 15.1, which seeks to ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, including wetlands, in line with obligations under international agreements,

Reaffirming the important role of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat[1] (Ramsar Convention) in ensuring the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, and its contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world,

Taking into account that the secretariat of the Ramsar Convention is co‑custodian of Sustainable Development Goal indicator 6.6.1, which monitors change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time, and that the Convention is a partner agency for indicators 6.5.1, 14.5.1 and 15.1.2,

Noting decision III/21 of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, of 15 November 1996,[2] recalling the role of the Ramsar Convention as the lead partner in the implementation of activities related to wetlands under the Convention on Biological Diversity,[3] and recognizing the important contribution that the Ramsar Convention has made towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020,[4]

Recognizing that 171 States had become Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat as of July 2021 and that the secretariat of the Ramsar Convention provides outreach materials to help to raise public awareness of the importance and value of wetlands on 2 February each year, the anniversary of the date of adoption of the Convention, in 1971,

Taking note of the outcome of the thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat, held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 21 to 29 October 2018, and in particular its resolution XIII.1, in which the Conference invited the General Assembly to recognize 2 February of each year, the date of adoption of the Convention on Wetlands, as World Wetlands Day,

  1. Decides to proclaim 2 February, the date of adoption of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention), as World Wetlands Day;
  2. Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other global, regional and subregional organizations, as well as other relevant stakeholders, including civil society, international and national non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe and raise awareness of World Wetlands Day in an appropriate manner, in accordance with national priorities;
  3. Stresses that the cost of all activities that may arise from the implementation of the present resolution should be met from voluntary contributions, and that such activities would be subject to the availability and provision of voluntary contributions;
  4. Invites the secretariat of the Ramsar Convention, in collaboration with relevant organizations of the United Nations system, to facilitate the implementation of World Wetlands Day, mindful of the provisions contained in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution 1980/67, and also invites the secretariat of the Ramsar Convention to inform the General Assembly at its seventy-sixth session about the implementation of the present resolution;
  5. Requests the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of all Member States, the organizations of the United Nations system and other relevant stakeholders, including civil society organizations, academia and the private sector, for appropriate observance. X/2, annex.