Scientists urge EU to do more to protect European rivers and lakes

The scientists call on the European Union to intensify its efforts to ensure freshwater diversity. (Shutterstock)
Updated 06 December 2019

Scientists urge EU to do more to protect European rivers and lakes

  • Nearly two thirds of freshwater bodies across the continent are unhealthy

BRUSSELS: More than 5,500 scientists have signed an open letter saying that Europe is facing a severe threat to its freshwater biodiversity and must do more to protect its rivers and lakes.
The letter follows the release of a report by the EU’s own environment agency, EEA, which said that nearly two thirds of freshwater bodies across the continent are unhealthy.
The scientists call on the European Union to intensify its efforts to ensure freshwater diversity.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, more than 1 million species worldwide are at risk of extinction due to humans’ pursuit of economic growth. Freshwater species are especially at risk. Worldwide populations have crashed 83 percent in the past decades.
Water is also at risk of becoming an increasingly scarce resource as climate change exacerbates pressures on the water sources of half a billion Europeans who depend on it.
The EEA has said nearly half of all habitants in the countries around the Mediterranean experienced some form of drought in the past summers.
The EU policy protecting the bloc’s waterways, the Water Framework Directive, was introduced in 2000. Since its inception, implementation has been lacklustre.
The new head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has committed to fighting biodiversity loss as part of her European Green Deal, an ambitious plan which would make Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
The scientists wrote: “There cannot be an effective European Green Deal without healthy water ecosystems at the heart of it.”


UK pledges £20m aid for Beirut blast recovery

The blast in Beirut hit a grain silo in the port, exasperating Lebanon's already rising food insecurity. (File/Reuters)
Updated 09 August 2020

UK pledges £20m aid for Beirut blast recovery

  • World leaders have joined a virtual summit to coordinate an effective humanitarian response to the Beirut blast.
  • French President promises aid will not go to "corrupt hands"

LONDON: The UK has pledged an additional £20 million ($26.09 million) in humanitarian aid to Lebanon in response to last week’s massive explosion in Beirut.

International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the money would go to the UN’s World Food Programme to help Lebanon’s most vulnerable.

The figure was promised at a virtual summit held Sunday that was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron. World leaders met virtually to formulate a global response to the devastating explosion and ensuing humanitarian and economic crisis.

Trevelyan said: “The devastation we have seen in Lebanon this week has left people without homes, medical care and wondering how long it will be until the country’s food supplies run out. Today the world is coming together to stand by the Lebanese people, and as one of the biggest donors to this crisis so far, the UK is pledging more urgent support to help all those affected by this terrible disaster.”

The UK has already provided £5 million in assistance and paid for specialist medics to respond to health needs on the ground. It will also send a Royal Navy vessel to assist the recovery.

Other European countries have also promised to send humanitarian aid. Germany has pledged 10 million euros ($11.78 million) and the European Union has promised 30 million euros.

Despite the sizable donations, the price tag for rebuilding Beirut is likely to cost billions of dollars.

There is also widespread distrust among the Lebanese population about the government’s ability to effectively coordinate the blast response and to manage the huge influx of cash.

Macron, addressing this concern on his recent trip to Beirut, said: “I guarantee you, this (reconstruction) aid will not go to corrupt hands.”