Tracking investments benefitting biodiversity 

The EU's strong focus on biodiversity protection is emphasised in the European Green Deal and in the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, which requires integrating or ‘mainstreaming’ biodiversity into all sectorial policies and ensuring sizeable funding for investments. Under Cohesion policy programmes for 2021-2027, investments of more than EUR 22 billion are planned in biodiversity action of which around EUR 16.8 billion is EU funding.
Use the interactive charts below to explore the planned investments by fund, country and type of action based on cohesion open data.

Policy context

The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 aims to ensure that ecosystems are healthy, resilient to climate change, rich in biodiversity, and deliver a range of services essential for citizens′ prosperity and well-being. Ambitious targets address the main drivers of biodiversity loss and aim to reduce key pressures on nature and ecosystem services in the EU. The strategy sets the ambition that “at least €20 billion a year should be unlocked for spending on nature”. However, the scale of financing needs to deliver the Strategy is significantly higher. A study commissioned by the Commission in 2022 identified that they are around EUR 48.15 billion annually.
The need to mobilize more funding is reflected in the Interinstitutional Agreement accompanying the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, which sets the ambition of “providing 7.5 % in 2024 and 10 % in 2026 and in 2027 of annual spending under the MFF to biodiversity objectives”. 
Cohesion policy is an important contributor to the objectives. The tracking of Cohesion policy investment to preserve biodiversity started in the 2014-2020 period (read the data story here). The tracking methodology was updated for the 2021-2027 period; the details are set out at the bottom of the page.

Biodiversity tracking by Funds and by Member States

The charts below present the total amounts of investment contributing to biodiversity preservation and the EU Funds’ allocation by the source of funding and by Member States.
Hover over the bars for more information

A total investment of more than EUR 22.7 billion in national, regional and cross-border programmes is planned in biodiversity action under cohesion policy, of which EUR 16.8 billion is in EU funding (situation of April 2023). Taking this amount in relation to the total allocation of the Funds programmed, this represents a 6% share. Compared to the 2014-2020 programming period where 4% of the total ERDF and Cohesion Fund expenditure contributed to biodiversity objectives, this is a significant increase.
In monetary terms, there are important variations in the biodiversity allocations among Member States. This is partly explained by the different size of the national financial allocations under cohesion policy. Poland, the largest beneficiary under Cohesion policy, has above EUR 3 billion allocation to biodiversity relevant investments. Beyond Poland, several other countries have substantial allocations from the Funds that contribute to biodiversity objectives (Czechia, Greece, Spain, Hungary, Italy and Romania). Luxembourg and the Netherlands decided not to use Cohesion policy funds to contribute to biodiversity objectives.
Use the navigation on the right or hover over the bars to explore the Member State profiles.

The significant variations in allocations can be better demonstrated by looking at the share of biodiversity allocations compared to the overall cohesion policy Funds’ allocation across the Member States. This share ranges from 0% (Luxembourg and the Netherlands) to >10% (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia and the Interreg programmes). Member States with low shares have to compensate for their low level of ambition with more substantial biodiversity allocations under other EU Funds, to properly contribute to the biodiversity spending goal of the 2021-2027 MFF.

Biodiversity allocations vary by types of investments

The budgetary allocations to the types of investments that benefit biodiversity are illustrated in the chart below. Investments that have biodiversity as their core objective (investments in Natura 2000 sites and nature and biodiversity protection measures) represent more than 40% of cohesion policy contribution to biodiversity objectives. From the other measures that indirectly benefit biodiversity, investments in flood protection and wastewater treatment receive the highest allocation.
Depending on development needs specific to the EU countries and regions, the composition of investments contributing to biodiversity objectives varies considerably across the Member States. Unsurprisingly, in many Member States, the highest biodiversity allocations stem from investments in nature and biodiversity protection measures (e.g. Poland, Spain, Czechia, Hungary, France, Lithuania, Denmark, Austria, and also under the cross-border programmes). In some other Member States flood protection and other climate change adaptation measures dominate the biodiversity investments (e.g. Bulgaria, Latvia, Cyprus, Estonia). In Malta the biggest contribution to biodiversity objectives will be provided by investments in wastewater treatment infrastructure, whereas in Belgium and Finland, investments in rehabilitation of industrial sites and contaminated land will provide the largest financial contribution. The chart below shows the share of the different types of interventions contributing to the total biodiversity allocation by Member State.

Methodology for tracking biodiversity investments under cohesion policy

Cohesion policy foresees funding for biodiversity from ERDF, Cohesion Fund, JTF and Interreg. To track both the direct and indirect contribution of investments under cohesion policy to biodiversity objectives, a tracking methodology was agreed. The biodiversity tracking methodology is based on a study commissioned by the Directorate General for Environment that was delivered in 2022. The methodology was also discussed with the European Parliament and the Council in the course of 2022.
Similarly to the 2014-2020 programming period (see the 2014-2020 biodiversity tracking data story here), the tracking method for ERDF, Cohesion Fund and JTF in the 2021-2027 funding period is applied at the level of intervention fields listed in Annex I of the Common Provisions Regulations. Biodiversity coefficients of 0%, 40% and 100% are assigned to each intervention field respectively, expressing the expected impacts of the related investments on biodiversity objectives in practice:
  • 100% coefficient rate - significant contribution: investments in nature and biodiversity protection, natural heritage and resources, green and blue infrastructure, protection and restoration of natural areas
  • 40% coefficient rate - moderate contribution: investments in climate change adaptation (through flood and fire protection measures and ecosystem based approaches), waste water collection and treatment, rehabilitation of industrial sites and contaminated land
  • 0% coefficient rate - no contribution
The biodiversity tracking coefficients are applied by the Commission to the financial information available in breakdown by intervention fields: 
  • planned allocation: cohesion policy programmes provide the indicative breakdown of the planned EU resources by intervention fields;
  • expenditure: during the implementation, programmes are required to transmit financial data to the Commission five times a year. The data must reflect the expenditure of the selected and implemented operations broken done by intervention fields.
This methodology allows an approximate quantification of biodiversity financing because it avoids national authorities making any assessment of the biodiversity relevance of expenditure under their programmes. At the same time, it provides a consistent approach over the 2021-2027 programming period across 27 Member States that allows monitoring budget implementation over time against the allocations contributing to biodiversity objectives decided at the beginning of the period. Furthermore, the application of this methodology does not entail any additional administrative burden to national authorities.

More information

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Author: Maté TAS, Dora O'NEILL, Caterina SCARPA 
Data of Text: April 2023