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EEA-Eionet Strategy 2021-2030: delivering data and knowledge to achieve Europe’s climate and environment ambitions

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Article Published 15 Dec 2020 Last modified 11 May 2021
4 min read
Photo: © Hasan Baglar, REDISCOVER Nature /EEA
Our joint Strategy indicates our direction of travel. It introduces a new way of working together and creating knowledge — more agile, more responsive, more pro-active, more actionable — befitting the challenges we will face and the knowledge we will need in the decade to come.

Stay safe and let’s mark 2021 as a memorable milestone on our journey towards a green and digital Europe.

2020 will be a year we will all remember. The whole world has been affected by COVID-19. In a matter of months, the pandemic forced us to change the way we live, learn, work, move around, and even socialise. Some have lost loved ones; others fell ill. Some of us have been working from make shift home offices, others have been on the frontline to help the most vulnerable. As the year ends, most countries in Europe are going through a second wave of COVID-19 and the impacts — on public health, economy and the environment — are becoming clearer.

The scale and speed of this pandemic have revealed how vulnerable we are, and how resilient and agile we can also be. Faced with many unknowns and uncertainties, public authorities have had to take and implement drastic measures to contain the pandemic and minimise its impacts. From one day to the next, many of us had to become proficient in new online tools for work and school. It showed us that we can take hard decisions and we can adopt new technologies and lifestyles.

Europe’s commitment to environment and climate reconfirmed

It is about a year ago that the newly appointed von der Leyen Commission announced the European Green Deal — an ambitious set of political priorities to achieve climate neutrality, economic sustainability and a fair transition. A year on, and despite the shock and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, it is impressive that the European Union’s long-term environment and climate ambitions have remained unchanged. On the contrary, a growing number of policy initiatives continue to be put forth, including the Biodiversity Strategy, Farm to Fork Strategy, Chemicals Strategy and the European Climate Pact. Both the European Parliament and the European Council have recently endorsed the more ambitious target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 % by 2030.

Science has been raising alarm bells for decades about climate change, environmental degradation and their potential impacts on our well-being. But we are now at a turning point and the next decade offers a unique opportunity we have never had before. For the first time, knowledge and policy are aligned to achieve sustainability across the continent. Europe’s commitment has remained unchanged even when the economic impacts of the pandemic called for urgent recovery measures. The packages are now fully aligned with the objectives of a green and digital recovery.

This strong commitment and political ambition are essential but not enough. They will need to be translated into concrete policies and measures taken at every step of the journey, which in turn will need to be guided and supported by trusted and actionable knowledge to ensure that Europe remains on track and achieves its long-term environment and climate ambitions. And this is exactly what we — the European Environment Agency and European environment information and observation network (Eionet) — will deliver.

EEA and Eionet: a common vision and a joint strategy for 2021-2030

Over the coming decade, the environmental and climate challenges Europe will be facing call for systemic responses as well a full implementation of policies and a full integration of sustainability objectives into socio-economic policies. Public awareness leading to more sustainable choices and global coordination will also be essential.

The EEA-Eionet Strategy 2021-2030 aims to provide the data and the knowledge needed to tackle these challenges. Our vision is 'to enable a sustainable Europe through trusted and actionable knowledge for informed decision-making on environment and climate priorities and solutions, in line with Europe’s policy ambitions. And together, the EEA and Eionet will constitute the leading network for policy-relevant environment and climate knowledge at European Union and country levels.'

Today our extensive network connects hundreds of institutions from 38 member and cooperating countries. Eionet also includes the European Topic Centres — consortia of European organisations with expertise in specific environmental areas. It is a unique network aimed at supporting policy by bringing expertise with knowledge underpinned by quality-assured data, capacity building and an innovative e-reporting data infrastructure.

We identified our strategic objectives for the coming decade. We will continue to support policy implementation and sustainability transitions and will provide timely input to solutions for sustainability challenges. To provide the knowledge needed, we will build stronger networks and partnerships and make full use of the potential of data, technology and digitalisation, while ensuring that we continue developing of our expertise and capacity across the network.

We will deliver actionable knowledge across five work areas, namely biodiversity and ecosystems; climate change mitigation and adaptation; human health and the environment; circular economy and resource use; and sustainability trends, prospects and responses. Europe’s production sectors as well as consumption and production systems will be addressed through these five interlinked work areas.

Our joint Strategy indicates our direction of travel. It introduces a new way of working together and creating knowledge — more agile, more responsive, more pro-active, more actionable — befitting the challenges we will face and the knowledge we will need in the decade to come.

Stay safe and let’s mark 2021 as a memorable milestone on our journey towards a green and digital Europe.

 

Hans Bruyninckx

Hans Bruyninckx
EEA Executive Director

Editorial published in the December issue of the EEA Newsletter 04/2020

 

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