Climate Change, Environment, Europe, Global, Global Geopolitics, Headlines

ENVIRONMENT: Brussels Gears Up For ‘Green Week’

Stefania Bianchi

BRUSSELS, May 30 2003 (IPS) - The European Union will assess the development of its green policies since the last year’s Earth Summit next week as it welcomes environmental actors to Brussels.

More than 3000 delegates will participate in this, the third and biggest edition of Green Week, which runs from June 2 to June 5. They will debate three key major environment policy areas outlined at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, also known as the Johannesburg Earth Summit 2002.

Representatives from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), public authorities and national governments will travel to the Belgian city from across the world to review the progress made by the EU on key issues such as sustainable consumption and production, renewable energy and climate change and water. They will also assess what needs to be done in the future.

This year the EU, notably its executive arm, the Commission, hopes that Green Week 2003 will encourage European citizens to change their behaviour and lead “a more environmentally friendly lifestyle” to respond to the environmental challenges within the 15 member states.

One of the main aims of this year’s Green Week is to encourage people to “think aloud” about how citizens, businesses, policy makers, teachers and scientists can really change their environmental behaviour and the world a more environmentally friendly and healthy place to live in.

Environment Commissioner, Margot Wallström says that the EU’s Green Week is one of the Commission’s ways of conveying its environmental message to European citizens. She hopes that the event will encourage participants to learn about and develop environmental commitments made in Johannesburg.

“The European Commission, along with actors at every level of society, is determined to translate words into action and meet the commitments on sustainable development that were made last year.

“By focusing and changing our behaviour and emphasizing the important role that all stakeholders play in bringing about that change, Green Week 2003 underlines the need for concerted effort and for a results-orientated approach on issues that really count,” she says.

There will be a series of conferences and events to debate what the EU has done so far to address environmental problems. As well as showcasing the work already achieved by the Commission, Green Week 2003 will assess what still needs to be done.

Since the Johannesburg Summit, the EU has been committed to developing a number of new environmental initiatives, including a 10-year framework for programmes on sustainable consumption and production of renewable energy.

Industrialised countries have agreed to take the lead in this global effort to correct current unsustainable patterns and help developing countries put in place policies and tools to respond to the problem, says an EU briefing paper.

Members of the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to address the issue of a changing global climate, also recommitted themselves to the constitution at the Summit and have since pledged to uphold the Protocol.

In September 2002, the EU launched the ‘Water for Life’ initiative as a direct result of discussions at the Johannesburg Summit. The programme aims to halve the number of people without access to safe water and basic sanitation by 2015.

This is currently being carried out through institutional capacity building, targeted research and scientific cooperation in developing countries in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

With 26 conference sessions, workshops and press conferences, Green Week has become one of the most important events in the Environment Directorates-General’s (DG) agenda. It is the largest forum for debate of its kind on the international calendar, says the EU.

Besides the main conferences and debates, there will be a Green Week exhibition, which is a showpiece for the presentation of the latest innovative projects to solving environmental problems around the world.

In conjunction with Green Week, European citizens are being encouraged to organise ‘Green Days’ – regional events throughout the EU to raise environmental awareness at local level.

The Environment DG aims to promote Sustainable Development and environmental efficiency and to encourage the equitable use of common environmental resources.

This week the Commission adopted a paper called ‘Towards a Thematic Strategy on Waste Prevention and Recycling’, which invites stakeholders to comment on issues such as: how to avoid generating waste, how to reduce the use of resources, and which wastes to recycle.

According to a report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) early May, environmental issues are still a cause for concern in Europe.

‘Europe’s Environment’ found that although the state of the environment across Europe has improved in several respects over the past decade, much of the progress is likely to be wiped out by economic growth because governments have yet to make significant strides towards decoupling environmental pressures from economic activity.

This year’s Green Week coincides with the United Nations World Environment Day (WED) commemorated each year on June 5.

This day is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations encourages worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. The WED theme this year is ‘Water – Two Billion People are Dying for It!’ which is calling on people to help safeguard the most precious source of life on our planet.

Republish | | Print |

Related Tags