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You are here: Home / Environmental topics / Green economy

Green economy

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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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... more

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100