Nature Restoration Law: what does it mean for rivers?
Healthy ecosystems are vital for human well-being. Rivers, forests, and oceans – and, in principle, all ecosystems - deliver fundamental subsistence services and act as natural shields against climate change. However, natural areas within the European Union are deteriorating quickly, undermining the planet, biodiversity, and our future.
Free-flowing rivers are nature-based solutions for a warming world, as they help relieve the impact of intensifying droughts, floods, and storms. Luckily, the European Commission recognizes the importance of reconnecting rivers and supports a fast and cost-effective tool to do so: dam removal. In June 2022, the European Commission proposed the Nature Restoration Law, setting targets to restore biodiversity and degraded ecosystems. A free-flowing rivers target was included for riverine ecosystems to identify and remove obsolete barriers and free at least 25 000 km of European rivers.
What is the current status of the Nature Restoration Law?
In July, the Nature Restoration Law narrowly passed the EU Parliament and Council with the free-flowing rivers target intact, while many other ambitions were significantly weakened. The Trilogue (interinstitutional negotiations) is now underway to resolve the differences in the legislative proposals. This is a crucial forum for negotiation, where the co-legislators (Parliament and Council) have to find a consensus. The final proposal that emerges from these discussions will have to be voted for final approval by both the Council and Parliament, possibly later this year. Stay tuned for updates on whether we need to make our voices heard for rivers.