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Dutch nature and biodiversity insufficiently protected

Over the past decade, several measures have been taken to protect Dutch nature and biodiversity [1]Sanders, M. E., Henkens, R. J. H. G., & Slijkerman, D. M. E. (2019). Convention on biological diversity: Sixth national report of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (No. 156). Statutory Research … Continue reading. However, these have proven to be insufficient: none of the biodiversity targets for 2020 has been achieved and no single European country counts as many endangered animal and plant species as the Netherlands [2]PBL (2020) Staat van instandhouding EU-soorten en habitattypen (2020) (indicator 0030, versie 57, 07-09-2020) Website Balans van de Leefomgeving. Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving, Den Haag. It is crucial to halt biodiversity loss and to restore nature. Not only to preserve all the beautiful species the Netherlands, but also to ensure sustainable food supply, clean water, a healthy living environment and to address the climate crisis. According to the IPBES, the rapid decline of species poses at least as great a threat to mankind as global warming.

New targets for biodiversity

2022 is an important year for biodiversity worldwide. The United Nations Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP15) is to take place in Montreal, Canada. At this summit, new targets to conserve and restore biodiversity will be set for 2030.

The Netherlands will participate in the Biodiversity Conference and will also commit to the new targets that will be set. As a member of the European Union, the Netherlands already recently committed itself to protect 30% of its lands, rivers, lakes, and wetlands by 2030. To achieve these international targets, we need a set of measurable national targets for biodiversity.

In 2021, IUCN NL published a Dutch action agenda for biodiversity. It contains over 150 commitments by organizations from various parts of society.

Targets for nature restoration

Dutch policies and actions for nature conservation lack coherence at a national level: in our highly decentralized governance system, different authorities and organizations apply diverse approaches and strategies. The coherence and sum of these approaches and strategies are not always clear enough, which leaves uncertainty as to the extent to which these policies and actions will actually lead to the conservation and restoration of biodiversity.

To turn the tide for nature in the Netherlands, we need a joint strategy with a clear, shared set of national targets. These targets and the monitoring of progress towards them should be based on the most up-to-date knowledge of biodiversity, policy objectives and nature conservation. The National Biodiversity Dashboard is the instrument that will help achieve this.

‘In line with international and European agreements, we must set ambitious national targets to restore Dutch biodiversity in the Netherlands. Both government and civil society need to make great efforts to involve the whole of society in this process. By close monitoring, we will be able to see our progress towards the targets we set.’

Coenraad Krijger, director IUCN NL

What is the National Biodiversity Dashboard?

The National Biodiversity Dashboard will be a widely shared and used instrument to measure progress of biodiversity restoration and to guide strategies and policies. The Dashboard will consist of a limited, carefully chosen set of indicators that policy-makers and developers can use to assess their ambitions and strategies for biodiversity and direct them towards reaching the national targets. In this way, the Dashboard helps accelerate the restoration of biodiversity in the Netherlands by providing targeted, insightful information.

Our Partners

IUCN NL, Naturalis, Soorten NL and Sovon are working together with a range of governmental and non-governmental organizations and knowledge institutions to develop the National Biodiversity Dashboard. With our shared expertise and broad network, we are developing a Dashboard that will provide a useful and solid instrument to steer interventions and policy measures to reach the targets for biodiversity restoration.

Frequently asked questions about the Convention on Biological Diversity

  • How is the Convention on Biological Diversity process organised?

    The Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity convene every two years to hold a Conference of Parties (CoP). During the conference more specific agreements are made on components of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and are elaborated. Targets are also established for protecting biodiversity over a longer period (10 years). Countries regularly report on their progress in achieving the targets. The summit in Montreal is the fifteenth edition of this conference (CoP15).

    In the run-up to the summit, various committees and working groups are involved in global, regional and thematic consultation. In preparation, participating countries can organise their own meetings to gather input from nature organisations, businesses, knowledge institutions and public authorities for the country’s contribution to the summit.

  • What can I do to contribute to the Convention on Biological Diversity?

    Dutch businesses, social organisations, knowledge institutions and citizens can contribute to the new biodiversity targets by making a pledge for the Netherlands’ Action Agenda for Biodiversity.

    A pledge is a promise which, for example, could relate to the recovery of species, nature conservation or restoration, combating threats to biodiversity, creating awareness or inspiring others to take action.

    Each pledge on the Dutch action agenda contributes to the targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): conserving biodiversity, using biodiversity sustainably and distributing the benefits from biodiversity fairly and equally.

  • What is the Convention on Biological Diversity?

    The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is one of the three conventions established at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In addition to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, a treaty to conserve biodiversity was also signed. In 2011, twenty specific targets were defined for the treaty, the Aichi targets. These strategic targets came to an end in 2020, which means that new targets must be defined. This will be addressed at the Biodiversity Summit in 2022 in Montreal, Canada.

    The Convention on Biological Diversity has been signed by 196 countries and, as a result, is one of the most widely supported international environmental treaties. The Netherlands also signed the treaty.
    Signatory countries are obliged to conserve biodiversity, use biodiversity sustainably and distribute the costs and benefits of biodiversity fairly and equally between countries.

  • What role does IUCN NL play in the Convention on Biological Diversity?

    IUCN NL is working towards an ambitious and broadly supported Dutch biodiversity agenda that contributes to the new biodiversity targets, with input from various groups in society. To achieve this we are calling on Dutch organisations to make a pledge.
    We focus on conserving and restoring biodiversity in the Netherlands, reducing the Netherlands’ biodiversity footprint abroad, and boosting biodiversity in the Netherlands’ international cooperation. We also strive for a collective, broadly supported Dutch position on the new targets that must be defined in 2021.

  • What role does the Netherlands play in the Convention on Biological Diversity?

    The Netherlands is one of the countries that signed the treaty in 1992 and will also attend the Biodiversity Summit. As a member of the European Union, the Netherlands is committed to the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.
    Therefore, it is important that the government now takes steps to develop a specific, ambitious Dutch contribution to the Convention in association with social organisations, businesses and citizens. They must develop an action agenda that demonstrates the Netherlands can contribute to the protection of biodiversity and is willing to do so. IUCN NL is calling on Dutch organisations to contribute to the Netherlands’ action agenda by making a pledge.

  • Why is the Convention on Biological Diversity important?

    The Convention on Biological Diversity is the ultimate international policy mechanism for addressing biodiversity loss. Global cooperation is crucial for tackling the loss of biodiversity, due to the numerous and transnational causes of the problem. The Biodiversity Summit represents the most important event at which this can be achieved.

Learn more about biodiversity restoration?

Maxime Eiselin
Senior Expert Nature-based Solutions
Caspar Verwer
Senior Expert Nature Conservation
Hanneloes Weeda
Grants and Funding Manager
Phone: 020-3018246


1 Sanders, M. E., Henkens, R. J. H. G., & Slijkerman, D. M. E. (2019). Convention on biological diversity: Sixth national report of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (No. 156). Statutory Research Tasks Unit for Nature & the Environment. https://library.wur.nl/WebQuery/wurpubs/554190
2 PBL (2020) Staat van instandhouding EU-soorten en habitattypen (2020) (indicator 0030, versie 57, 07-09-2020) Website Balans van de Leefomgeving. Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving, Den Haag