Biodiversity: France’s positions and actions

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At national level

In 2004, in line with its commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity, France wanted to see biodiversity become a part of all public polices, by launching its National Biodiversity Strategy.

Following on from the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan adopted at the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010, France has strengthened its action for biodiversity by adopting a new National Biodiversity Strategy for the period 2011-2020. This national action framework aims to generate greater commitment from all actors, in all regions, in cities and overseas, with a view to achieving the objectives adopted. It set a joint aim of conserving and restoring, strengthening and showcasing biodiversity, and ensuring its sustainable and equitable use. A new National Biodiversity Strategy will be launched in 2021.

The commitment made in 2012 at the first French Environmental Conference “to make France an exemplary country in terms of restoration of biodiversity” has been translated into a draft biodiversity framework law (draft law for the restoration of biodiversity, nature and landscapes). This law was adopted in August 2016 and has resulted in several advances:

• It created the French Biodiversity Agency, which merged in January 2020 with the National Agency for Wildlife to form the French Office for Biodiversity.

• It has also set out new principles in the Environmental Code and Civil Code:

  • Non-regression of environmental law;
  • Environmental solidarity and “no net loss of biodiversity” objective;
  • Protection of soils of common interest, by making them a part of common heritage of the nation and a new chapter on biodiversity offsets in the Environmental Code.

• The law also lays down in the Civil Code a redress scheme for environmental damage to strengthen and consolidate jurisprudence achievements by incorporating the polluter pays principle in the law.

• This law also strengthens the instruments for protecting endangered species via the creation of priority areas for biodiversity and areas devoted to the conservation of operational areas for fishing resources.

• It also sets out provisions relating to the real environmental obligations, a mechanism which enables a property owner to introduce long-term environmental protection measures with a contract entered into with a legal person ensuring an environmental aspect.

• The law also banned the use of pesticides containing neonicotinoids as of 1 September 2018.

• To limit the impact of plastic waste in the sea, it has banned plastic microbeads in cosmetics in 2018 and cotton swabs with plastic sticks in 2020.

• Criminal sanctions to fight the trafficking of endangered species have also been stepped up.

• The text has also enabled the ratification of the Nagoya Protocol which provides a framework for the access to genetic resources and the related traditional knowledge and the sharing of benefits arising from them.

Many actions have been implemented at national level to combat biodiversity loss: demarcation of new marine and land-based protected areas; identification of ecological continuities; definition of action plans for endangered species; strategies for controlling invasive species; dissemination of biodiversity friendly practices; awareness actions and knowledge development; and regional and international cooperation actions. France has reported on all its actions in its 6th National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

At international level

France developed a national diversity plan in July 2018 to accelerate the implementation of the National Biodiversity Strategy, which ends in 2020. France has committed to making biodiversity an environmental priority of its diplomatic network and put biodiversity high on the world’s political agenda in order to obtain ambitious and significant outcomes at COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This will be seen in the adoption of a post-2020 strategic biodiversity framework and new global objectives.

An interministerial action plan for biodiversity

The national plan adopted on 4 July 2018 is accompanied by a specific road map for each ministry and focused on six important themes:

• Restoring biodiversity in territories;
• Building a pollution-free economy with a low impact on biodiversity;
• Protecting and restoring nature in all its components;
• Developing an ambitious international and European road map for biodiversity;
• Learning, educating, training;
• Improving the effectiveness of biodiversity policies.

France is also strongly invested in preparing the IUCN World Conservation Congress which will be held in January 2021 in Marseille. Held every four years, this event brings together around ten thousand participants and helps establish an international framework for biodiversity and sustainable development. This Congress is key to making the CBD COP15 a success.

Development assistance

As part of official development assistance, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the French Facility for Global Environment (FFEM) have provided financial assistance directly supporting the establishment and management of protected areas since 2000. The evaluation of contributions of “Protected Areas” interventions by the AFD to biodiversity conservation and development for the period 2000-2017 shows to what extent biodiversity conservation and related major ecosystem services can meet the socioeconomic development needs of local populations and includes a series of recommendations.

The search for innovative mechanisms for financing protected areas is a key focus.

At European level, France supports the work of the European Commission to adopt an ambitious biodiversity strategy in the framework of the European Green Deal. France also coordinates with all of the member countries so as to have a strong and ambitious position in the various international bodies, particularly in discussions for adopting a post-2020 strategic biodiversity framework with regard to the CBD.

France is involved through the application of European directives, namely the Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) and the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC). In this framework, it is actively participating in the development of the European Union’s Natura 2000 network of protected areas.

Updated: May 2020