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Brussels, 9 April 2010

Eurobarometer: Europeans not well informed about biodiversity loss. European Commission launches campaign to raise awareness

The European Commission has published a Eurobarometer survey which shows that many Europeans do not understand what is meant by biodiversity and do not feel well informed about biodiversity loss. The Commission has at the same time launched a campaign aimed at informing the public about the loss of biodiversity in the EU.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "Biodiversity is the natural engine for our future, and we must learn to treat it with care. I hope this campaign will help do that, and raise awareness about the need to be kinder to the natural world we depend on."

New research into biodiversity awareness

The recent Eurobarometer survey shows that most Europeans do not feel well informed about biodiversity. The new "Attitudes towards biodiversity" survey reveals that only 38% of Europeans know the meaning of the term, although another 28% have heard of it but do not know its meaning. A majority feel that biodiversity loss is a serious issue, although they do not think they will be personally affected by the decline, with only 17% of respondents agreeing that they are already touched by it. When asked about the most important threats to biodiversity, 27% prioritised pollution, with 26% blaming man-made disasters. The main reason cited by citizens for their lack of actions to stop biodiversity loss was low awareness of what can be done

The Commission's awareness raising campaign

The EU-wide campaign, which coincides with the UN's designation of 2010 as the Year of Biodiversity, aims to raise awareness about the problem through a website, a video clip, PR actions, street art and media, including social media. The main thrust of the campaign will be to show citizens the real implications these losses will have in their daily lives, with a focus on actions citizens can take to prevent such losses. The campaign revolves around a slogan – "we are all in this together".

The primary concern of the campaign is to make the biodiversity problem/issue more familiar, ensure that citizens understand the potential consequences of this loss, and that they can do something to stop the decline.

The campaign is built around the slogan, ‘Biodiversity – we are all in this together’. It will have an educational dimension that reveals the benefits biodiversity brings, and stresses in particular the idea of ecosystem services and the dangers of their disappearance. The aim will be to make citizens more aware of the role they can play in slowing and preventing this loss.The theme that will return repeatedly is the idea of connectivity and interdependence.

Background: what is the problem with biodiversity?

Global biodiversity is under severe threat, with species being lost at 100 to 1000 times the normal rate. More than one third of species assessed are threatened with extinction and an estimated 60% of the Earth's ecosystem services have been degraded in the last 50 years. Human activities are causing this loss, through land-use change, over-exploitation, unsustainable practices, pollution and the introduction of invasive species, which lead to habitat and species destruction, fragmentation and degradation. Climate change is also a factor.

EU Environment ministers discussed a new biodiversity target in mid-March, and agreed to halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems services and restore them as far as possible by 2020. They also set out a long term vision for 2050, by which time biodiversity should be protected, valued and appropriately restored, and called for biodiversity objectives to be integrated more clearly in a variety of EU policies and strategies. The Council conclusions were endorsed by EU leaders on 26 March

For more information:

Campaign website:

www.weareallinthistogether.eu

Latest biodiversity Eurobarometer:

http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/index_en.htm

Council conclusions on biodiversity:

http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/10/st07/st07536.en10.pdf

EU nature policy:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/index_en.htm


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