Streamlining European biodiversity indicators 2020: Building a future on lessons learnt from the SEBI 2010 process


Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

Measuring biodiversity in Europe

Loss of biodiversity in Europe is a fact. Yet measuring the extent of the loss and the threat it poses is a challenge. Many European countries have been developing their own indicators to measure changes in biodiversity in their territory. At the same time, progress had also been measured at the global level. Ensuring consistency between indicators at national, regional and global level was and still is essential.

The Streamlining European Biodiversity Indicators (SEBI) process was started in 2005 to provide a streamlined and workable set of biodiversity indicators for Europe to measure progress towards the target of holding biodiversity loss in Europe by 2010. SEBI aim was to build on current monitoring and available data to avoid duplication of efforts and to complement and not replace other activities to describe, model and understand biodiversity and the pressures upon it.

This report is predominantly separated into three parts. Firstly, it describes the process and organisation of SEBI 2010. Following its initiation in 2005 SEBI began with the establishment of a Coordination Team and the involvement of six thematic expert groups. This involved around 140 experts from across the pan-European region and from international intergovernmental organisations and NGOs. Each group provided a range of technical expertise and geographical coverage.

SEBI institutional partners are the European Environment Agency (and its European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity), the European Centre for Nature Conservation, UNEP's World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the European Commission, the Joint Secretariat of the Pan‑European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy (PEBLDS), and the Czech Republic (as lead country for the Kiev Resolution action plan on biodiversity indicators).

This preparatory work led to an agreed list of 26 indicators which were published in an EEA report in November 2007. The 2007 EEA report also provided the basis for indicator-based assessments of Europe's progress towards its target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010 published in 2009 and 2010.

The report then analyses lessons learnt from the use of the indicator set and SEBI input to other processes. Producing the SEBI indicators involved some considerable reflections on the methodological process to be used. The identification of these issues was largely achieved by the SEBI working group on interlinkages. While some of the lessons learnt are very specific to the 2010 target, others can be useful for the revision of the current set in order to measure progress towards the new biodiversity targets.

Looking forward

Finally, the report looks ahead to 2020 and the EU's biodiversity strategy. A meeting in 2010 of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Japan adopted a Strategic Plan for Biodiversity for the period 2011–2020 once it became clear that the original global target had not been met (CBD, 2010a). The Strategic Plan reconfirmed the relevance of setting clear goals and targets to guide actions aiming at halting biodiversity loss and proposed a new vision and mission, five strategic goals and 20 new targets, entitled the Aichi Targets (CBD, 2010c).

In line with this plan a new EU biodiversity strategy — Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 — was adopted by the European Commission in May 2011. This provided a framework for the EU to meet its own biodiversity objectives and its global commitments as a party to the CBD. The Strategy sets out a long-term 2050 vision and the 2020 headline target.

In order to ensure the maximum possible alignment of the SEBI indicator set with the new targets, SEBI coordination team members followed and contributed to the discussions at various relevant fora and actively participated in key scientific and policy events in 2011.

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