On the eve of the UN Biodiversity COP15 meeting in Montreal, activists across Europe and even in war-torn Ukraine are taking action today and earlier this week to highlight the urgency to tackle loss of nature. The actions by Greenpeace and allies include gigantic illuminated animals, projections and laser animations, a performance of a classical orchestra, artificial trees cut down, and showcasing the disappearance of valuable Carpathian forests.
The protests are taking place in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine, together with digital online activists all calling for European governments to secure a new global deal for nature protection and stronger action to also protect nature at home.
Sini Eräjää, European food, forest and nature campaign area lead said: “There are hundreds of fights going on all around Europe to defend nature, from urban green areas to mountain forests. While European leaders gather at the UN biodiversity meeting to talk about aspirational targets for global nature protection, nature keeps getting wiped out in their own backyards. This is why nature defenders across Europe are not only calling for ambitious promises in Montreal but also new measures to put those promises into action.”
An Lambrechts, head of delegation from Greenpeace International in Montreal said: “High consuming regions like the EU have a special responsibility to bear in forging an ambitious new deal. While the EU often takes ambitious global positions, it also needs to provide finance to turn global agreements into reality and gear up its own efforts to stop nature destruction in its own backyards. And Europe must live up to its ambition on 30×30 and make sure we don’t just end up with a number that leads to paper parks instead of the highly and fully protected areas that we need to effectively protect biodiversity.”
Yehor Hrynyk, campaigner from the Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group said: “While my country is forced back to dark and cold mediaeval times by the brutal violence of Russian invasion, that doesn’t mean that nature is forgotten. Precious Carpathian forests are being destroyed, faster than before. Therefore we send the simple but important message: The Carpathians matter – Even in wartime!”
The actions which took place in 10 countries today, the night and days before:
* In Belgium the classical orchestra Young Belgium Strings performed “On the nature of daylight” in a green nature oasis threatened by construction in Brussels.
* On the Austrian UN building in Vienna “Save Nature – Save Life” was projected and written in a light art painting at an iconic location in Budapest.
* In Warsaw/Poland, a light painting portrayed a bear and a wolf in Bratislava/ Slovakia, representing the Carpathian forests, one of the last big forest areas in Europe covering 8 countries.
* In front of the Ministry of Environment of Czech Republic, the current EU presidency, ten large artificial tree stubs visualised the urgent need to protect precious old-growth forests in the European Union, f.e. unique Czech beech forests in the Ore Mountains.
* In Denmark a mermaid wore an oxygen mask highlighting how nitrogen pollution from animal farming is killing Danish ocean life.
* In Germany 25 gigantic illuminated animals demonstrated with a large red SOS message at the UN campus in Bonn.
* In the Romanian Carpathian forests, activists are illustrating the alarming rate at which we lose some of Europe’s last old-growth forests, with a message in a logging site in the Făgăraș Mountains: “SOS Carpathians, Forest Crime Scene, #SaveCarpathians”
* In Ukraine a light art projection in front of the opera house in Kyiv depicted the message: “The Carpathians matter – even in wartime”
The UN Biodiversity conference from 7th until the 19th of December in Montreal is expected to deliver a new international framework for biodiversity protection for this decade, and is a unique chance to take global nature protection to a new level. Greenpeace calls on European governments to support a global deal that includes strict and binding targets to protect at least 30% of land and oceans by 2030 at the latest, while recognising the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities and to secure adequate finance not only to fund conservation measures but also by divesting subsidies from destructive industries.