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What is a 'green economy'? Although it is still debated, many organisations — EEA included — now have a shared understanding of the concept. At the most basic level, a green economy is one that generates increasing prosperity while maintaining the natural systems that sustain us. More
- Key facts and messages
- Links between the state of Europe's environment and various global megatrends imply increasing systemic risks. Many key drivers of change are highly interdependent and likely to unfold over decades rather than years. These interdependencies and trends, many of them outside Europe's direct... more
- The notion of dedicated management of natural capital and ecosystem services is a compelling integrating concept for dealing with environmental pressures from multiple sectors. Spatial planning, resource accounting and coherence among sectoral policies implemented at all scales can help... more
- Increased resource efficiency and security can be achieved, for example, using extended life cycle approaches to reflect the full environmental impacts of products and activities. This can reduce Europe's dependence on resources globally and promote innovation. Pricing that takes full account... more
- Transformation towards a greener European economy will ensure the long-term environmental sustainability of Europe and its neighbourhood. In this context, shifts in attitudes will be important. Together, regulators, businesses and citizens could participate more widely in managing natural... more
- There is major potential for reducing environmental pressures caused by European consumption. Examples include shifting from car use to collective transport and bicycles, choosing high-quality and eco-labelled products and energy-efficient housing solutions. Another option is to channel additional... more
- Instigating such changes and making more resource-efficient and environmentally sustainable consumption patterns mainstream is a significant challenge. It requires public authorities to put the framework conditions in place to enable business and consumers/citizens to act sustainably, and business... more
- Achieving significant reductions in the environmental pressures related to consumption will require sophisticated policy packages, including regulatory and voluntary instruments, providing sustainable infrastructure, technological support; consumer education and information; and green public... more
- Resource use and waste generation in the EU-27 have been decoupled from economic growth. However, in most countries resource use and waste generation still increase in absolute figures. Although resource efficiency continues to improve, the growth of material productivity has for decades been... more
- The management of waste has improved, with many countries recycling and recovering more, but more efforts are needed if the EU is to become a 'recycling society'. Implementation of existing legislation remains crucial, especially on the illegal shipments of waste, illegal or sub-standard landfilling,... more
- The environmental pressures of Europe's consumption and production patterns, potentially resulting in damage to ecosystems and human health impacts, spread far beyond its borders. Most outlooks predict continued growth in the use of material resources both in the EU and globally, with key waste... more
- Policy has only recently begun to address the challenges of the growing use of resources. Most actions taken to date do not comprehensively address the upstream causes of growth, focusing instead on the downstream consequences. As yet, there are no broadly accepted and robust methods for measuring... more
- In the past, European water management has focused on increasing supply through deep wells, dams and reservoirs, desalination and large-scale water–transfer infrastructures. Future water management will benefit from applying an ecosystems perspective, using floodplains and groundwater aquifers... more
- Europe cannot endlessly increase its water supply, we must reduce demand. Policies are needed to encourage demand management. Demand measures could include the use of economic instruments; water loss controls; water-reuse and recycling; increased efficiency of domestic, agricultural and industrial... more
- Good water resource management is required to meet the needs of a resource efficient future, sustain human and economic development and maintain the essential functions of our water ecosystems. The solutions lie in more integrated and sustainable water management, integration of water aspects... more
- Removing pollution is expensive, uses energy and chemicals, and results in the generation of wastes. Controlling pollutants at source, however, decreases their discharge to freshwaters and reduces the need for treatment. There is considerable scope for greater implementation of source control... more
- For the three-quarters of Europe's population that lives in cities and towns, a good urban environment is a precondition for a good quality of life. This quality of life depends inter alia on clean air and water, efficient transport, low noise levels and green spaces. more
- The urban environment is under pressure from sources both inside and outside individual urban areas, and local situations are influenced by national and European legislation as well as programmes. Therefore, a broadly integrated approach from the local to the European level and across sectors... more
- The European economy generates more than five tonnes of waste, including hazardous waste, per inhabitant each year, and each citizen throws on average half a tonne of household waste into the bin. more
- More jobs at higher income levels are created by recycling than compared to landfilling or incinerating waste. Overall employment related to the recycling of materials in European countries increased by 45 % between 2000 and 2007. more
- In 2008, eco-industry in the EU-27 countries had a turnover of 319 billion EUR, accounted for 2.5 % of EU GDP, and employed 3.4 million people. more
- An average European citizen uses about four times more resources than one in Africa and three times more than one in Asia, but half of that in the Unites States, Canada or Australia. more
- Recycling can meet a large proportion of the economy’s resources demand, alleviating pressure on ecosystems to provide resources and assimilate waste. Recycling already meets substantial proportions of demand for some resource groups, notably paper and cardboard, and iron and steel. more
- By increasing tax on pollution and other environmentally-damaging activities, governments can use the extra funds to provide incentives for innovation, such as developing renewable energy. For advanced economies like the EU, such schemes also create new technologies which can be exported globally. more
Increasing some tax rates and removing subsidies on environmentally harmful products and services can boost economic growth if the revenue generated is then used to relieve the tax burden on employment and investment.
At last week’s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, delegates did not agree to any ambitious treaties or deadlines for dealing with pressing issues such as climate change, food and water scarcity. However, there were many positive signs for the future global environment.
This week the Rio de Janeiro summit on sustainable development will open. Rio+20 is an opportunity to look back at changes in our environment since the first Earth Summit in 1992, and also a time to look to the future, re-evaluating the way our economies and our societies depend on the environment and natural resources.
Demand for materials is so intense that between 20 and 30 % of the resources we use in Europe are now imported. With the boom in international trade, EU consumption and production damage ecosystems and human health far beyond Europe’s borders, according to a report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The world continues to speed down an unsustainable path despite over 500 internationally agreed goals and objectives to support the sustainable management of the environment and improve human wellbeing, according to a new and wide-ranging assessment coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
While much of Europe is still suffering the effects of economic recession, a new report argues that efforts to increase prosperity should not damage the environment. Indeed, Europe’s economy depends on a healthy environment, including the materials and services provided by the natural world, according to the new edition of Signals from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
Despite progress in some areas, Europe must do more to create the 'green economy' needed for the continent to become sustainable, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The world is entering a period of growing water scarcity: by 2030, global demand for fresh water could outstrip supply by more than 40 % if water is used in the same way that it is today. These stark figures are the background to a new report from the International Resource Panel, a group of natural resources experts hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme.