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A landmark for nature – and people!

After two years of discussion and negotiations, we celebrate an historic achievement for nature! On June 17, 2024, the Nature Restoration Law (NRL) was finally adopted by the EU Environmental Council, representing the world’s first-ever law of this kind.

© Luke Vodell – Unsplash

A roller coaster of negotiations

Since June 2022, the NRL’s journey was a roller coaster, facing an unmatched opposition and disinformation campaign in the European Parliament. Even at its very last voting stage, there was a high risk of rejection. However, during the final vote in the Environmental Council, the law gained supported and was adopted at last

EU Member States honoured their commitments to climate and biodiversity protection, with a majority of 20 countries officially endorsing the law. Special recognition goes to Austria’s Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler who played a pivotal role in securing the law by reversing Austria’s previous stance at the last minute.

© Baskin Creative Studios – Pexels

This historic achievement marks a victory for people, rivers and the species that inhabit and depend on them. Overall, it provides the necessary legal framework to reverse decades of ecological degradation. By setting clear targets to restore our lands and waterways, it ensures a common effort for resilient and vibrant ecosystems for future generations.

Ruben RochaDam Removal Europe project manager

What is the commitment?

The NRL aims to restore at least 20% of the EU’s degraded terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems seas by 2030. Specifically, the law sets to restore 25,000 kilometres of European rivers to their free-flowing conditions. To clarify this goal, the EU Joint Research Centre recently published a report outlining the criteria to achieve a free-flowing state: (1) river segmentation, (2) longitudinal, lateral, and vertical connectivity, (3) sediment and migration connectivity and (4) minimum length requirements.

The NRL adoption is a milestone and represents the unified commitment to safeguard European ecosystems, proving Europe’s dedication to global biodiversity restoration and protection ahead of the UN Biodiversity Conference 2024 (CBD COP16) on 21 October – 1 November in Cali, Colombia.

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