Belgium lacks 603m euros a year for biodiversity, says WWF

Belgium must spend more money than it currently does to meet its biodiversity ambitions, says WWF Belgium, which calculates the gap at euros 603 million per year.

"Our nature is worth its weight in gold: investing in biodiversity is investing in the future". This is the title of a report by WWF Belgium, showing that the Belgian government spent 855.5 million euros on biodiversity policy in 2020.

Belgium has also invested in climate adaptation and biodiversity in 2021 and 2022. But the budget needs to increase if governments are to meet their commitments and ambitions. "603 million euros seems like a lot, but it represents only 0.13 per cent of GDP or 0.22 per cent of total public spending," says WWF Belgium. "It is also many times less than the 13 billion euros that Belgium spent on fossil fuel subsidies in 2019."

Threats to humanity

It is important to invest in biodiversity, the organisation says. "The loss of biodiversity and the collapse of ecosystems are among the greatest threats to humanity in the coming decade."

"Biodiverse systems are more resilient to extreme weather events and recover faster"

Reine Spiessens, biodiversity policy officer at WWF Belgium, says the investment will pay off. "Investing in biodiversity is an investment in clean air, water and food, and helps fight climate change," she said. "Biodiverse systems are more resilient to extreme weather events and recover faster."

Andy Pieters, spokesperson for Flemish Environment minister Zuhal Demir, says Flanders is already doing what is necessary. "Investing in protecting our environment and restoring nature has been a priority since minister Demir took office," he told VRT NWS. "All the more so because clean water, healthy air and a strong ecosystem lead to good health for all Flemings."

"Environmental policy is de facto health policy"

"Environmental policy is de facto health policy," he added. "Despite the many challenges, unprecedented budgets have been allocated to this area. In 2022, the annual regular policy budget was increased by at least 100 million euros compared to 2019, which is a huge effort given the budgetary constraints."


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