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Europe’s Freshwater Ecosystems “Broken”, Says WWF

The annual economic value of water and freshwater ecosystems across Europe amounts to €11 trillion (US$11.6 trillion), according to a report by NGO World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), but nature degradation is placing these ecosystems and their value at risk. Europe has lost up to 90% of its floodplains in recent centuries, the report noted, as well as 60% of its rivers, lakes and other surface water bodies, straining their pivotal role in sustaining human and planetary health. Poor water management poses a direct risk to the growth of business and economies, with 75% of all bank loans in Europe granted to companies that are highly dependent on at least one ecosystem surface, such as flood mitigation. In response, WWF is calling for the urgent adoption of an ambitious EU Nature Restoration Law. Claire Baffert, Senior Water Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office, said: “Despite having robust EU legislation to protect our waters for decades, poor implementation combined with overexploitation and Europe’s knee-jerk tendency to use concrete infrastructure to try to fix water-related problems, means our freshwater ecosystems are broken. The urgently needed EU Nature Restoration Law can help Europe tackle its current and worsening water crisis by repairing the freshwater ecosystems which are vital for clean and plentiful water for drinking, food, industry, and biodiversity.”

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