Greenland’s Health Ministry signs cooperation agreement with EEA
Tasiilaq, Greenland Image © David Astley | flickr.com
The aim is to improve the sharing of data and information. Both parties hope that this will contribute to the quality and timeliness of assessments of environmental impacts on human health, both for the European region as a whole and the Arctic region in particular.
In the agreement, signatories note that “Europe leaves a footprint in the Greenlandic and Arctic environment with known, as well as suspected, effects on human health”. Pollutants can be transported across the Atlantic by ocean currents and atmospheric deposition, and may accumulate in certain foods in Greenland.
Another important environmental issue in Greenland is waste management, because waste is often not separated or stored properly so there is a risk it will leach into the surrounding environment. This problem is exacerbated by the long distances between settlements and waste treatment plants. The EEA is working with the Greenlandic government to improve the situation.
In the agreement between the EEA and the Health Ministry, initial priorities for collaboration include establishing a liaison agreement on exchange of personnel. In addition, both parties hope to exchange data, knowledge and information on environment-related health issues. There is particular interest in the effects of chemicals and hazardous substances, the human consequences of waste management, and health impacts of climate change.
Several areas of EEA work are of immediate relevance for the Arctic, such as health impacts of climate change, reducing burdens and health impacts of hazardous chemicals in children, and reducing health inequalities.
The agreement also includes a commitment to share knowledge to improve existing environmental assessments.
The EEA and the Arctic
The EEA is an independent EU Agency that has 32 member countries, including five Arctic states, namely Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Finland and Sweden. In addition six further EEA member countries are permanent observers in the Arctic Council. Moreover, the EEA and Greenland have been cooperating since 2010.
The EEA is active in environment and health initiatives in Europe, with a dedicated part of its Eionet network looking at Environment and Health. It also cooperates with other relevant partners, including the European Commission, other EU agencies, the World Health Organization (WHO), non-governmental organisations and many other international bodies. In the framework of the WHO-led pan-European Environment and Health process, the EEA is committed to contributing to the implementation of the Declaration of the Fifth Ministerial Conference (Parma, 2010).