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You are here: Home / Media / News / Environmental co-operation across The Atlantic Ocean

Environmental co-operation across The Atlantic Ocean

Copenhagen, 5 September 1997

Environmental co-operation across The Atlantic Ocean

Increased value of environmental information exposed to the public

The European Environmental Agency (EEA) and it’s American counterpart, the Information Office of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are progressive in their co-operative program.

The overall activities of the two Agencies is to develop a co-operation based on mutual supporting activities, sharing experiences and knowledge on issues relevant to the recovery, protection and maintenance of environmental quality within the European Union and in the United States.

The main goal is to develop a common approach in the field of environmental information.

The EEA is developing a broad information system and make the content available to policy makers as well as to the public. The EPA is reinventing environmental information to create a simple environmental information system in order to facilitate and ease public access.

This exchange of experiences is providing possibilities for an improved level of information by exposing it and also to improve implementation of legislation by making it public.

One of the goals is to increase the value of the environmental information exposed to the public. Another thing is to get more knowledge about how to provide quality information for both internal and public decision-making at the same time.

Developing of common frameworks for environmental information and structured knowledge can assure flow and access, and also improve decision making in environmental policy.

The co-operation between the two Agencies also gives the possibility for developing a common or shared technical tool to support global information and to profit from a set up of a multi language thesaurus on environmental technical terms.

The co-operation takes place under the auspices of the New Transatlantic Agenda (NTA) signed in Madrid on 3 December, 1995, between US President Bill Clinton and the Acting President of the European Union (EU) Felipe Gonzalez of Spain, providing co-operation to respond to Global Changes.

The ongoing technical contacts have since the middle of 1996 grown in scope, culminating in a joint EEA-EPA technical and project exchange conference in Washington, D.C. in December 1996.

The two Agencies intend to improve the effectiveness of multilateral efforts to protect the environment by strengthening the exchange of information, by reporting on key global environmental issues, by co-ordinating initiatives and by institutionalising regular bilateral consultations to discuss progress, identify actions, and optimise the use of information to fulfil their mandates and visions.

One of the projects they are sharing is to create an information locator service and a virtual environmental library on the Internet. The EEA is actively co-operating with the Centre of Earth Observation on this project, and both EEA and EPA will work together as information providers to this information service, once it is established in late 1997.

Transfer of experience concerning the Envirofacts Data Warehouse (EF) is another joint project of EPA. This is a database of nearly 800,000 facilities in the U.S. regulated by one or more of the national environmental statutes and contains an Internet based mapping capability for spatial display of results. That is of significant interest to survey all activities that have an environmental impact and provide improvements by making information publicly available.

The EEA will study EF in detail and the possibilities to implement a system with similar functionality but based on the distributed architecture of its own Environmental Information and Observation Network (EIONET). Member countries of the EEA will be consulted and the databases provided can be incorporated into the system. The implementation of the Emmissions Inventory foreseen in the Integrated Pollution Prevention Control (IPPC) directory could signify a big support to this development.

As EPA has a long tradition in providing public web services, and the EEA has launched a very successful website in November 1995 two Agencies will take advantage of this knowledge and investigate the possibilities of creating an environmental information channel on Internet with push technology.

"We look forward to activate this very effective and low cost co-operation to the benefit of all the users of the information, provided by EEA and EPA. It means, that also countries outside the EU and USA can profit from this joint experience", says Executive Director Domingo Jimenéz-Beltrán, The European Environment Agency in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Read also the following pamphlet: Environmental Information Strategies at Work: A Joint and Shared View of the U.S. EPA and the EU’s EEA 

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