Turning change into transition

Change language
Article Published 09 Oct 2013 Last modified 11 May 2021
2 min read
Photo: © Gülcin Karadeniz
We live in a world of continuous change. How can we steer these on-going changes to achieve global sustainability by 2050? How can we strike a balance between the economy and the environment, the short-term and the long-term? The answer lies in how we manage the transition process without locking ourselves into unsustainable systems.

Our societies face major risks linked to the environment, including climate change, biodiversity loss and depletion of natural resources. We can also see that many of the environmental problems are inter-linked and rooted in our societal and economic systems. For example, air pollution does not only affect human health; it is also a factor affecting climate change and ecosystems' resilience. To tackle it, we need to look at our food, transport and energy systems, as well as the global dimension of air pollution.

It is clear that such systemic challenges require comprehensive responses and long-term commitments. Some schemes to steer Europe's transition towards a low-carbon society are already underway. In its proposal for the 7th Environmental Action Programme, the European Union set its long-term vision for 2050 centred on a low-carbon society. Other initiatives, such as Europe 2020 and the Climate and Energy package, set a series of objectives by 2020, including sustainable economic growth, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, a boost in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Aligning our work

We, at the European Environment Agency, fully support the EU's long-term objectives and are committed in our next multi-annual programme (2014-2018) to provide utmost support to achieving them.

Thanks to our environmental information and observation network (Eionet), we are in a unique position to analyse the environmental impacts of these societal and economic transitions. Our work is based on compiling and assessing data reported by our member countries and networks. We also look at broader systemic challenges as well as European and global trends.

Throughout the new planning period, we will continue strengthening these core activities aimed at providing high-quality knowledge to our stakeholders. We will also develop further our capacity to identify emerging issues and linking them to current policy trajectories.

Clearly, these objectives can only be attained by reinforcing our cooperation, dialogue and capacity to co-create knowledge with our member countries, stakeholders and institutional partners in data provision.

By communicating this knowledge to policy makers and key stakeholders, we hope to help give a direction to on-going changes and transform them into a transition towards a low-carbon, resource efficient and resilient society.

Challenges ahead

At the European level, one of the challenges ahead will be to make our policies increasingly more effective and better implemented. Another challenge will be to avoid locking ourselves into unsustainable transport, energy, housing and food systems in the long-term. Assessing the potential impacts of different transition paths will enable us to re-adjust our course along the way if needed. A solid knowledge base is essential for both of these challenges.

The same is also true at an institutional level. Building on two decades of experience, we will need to continue building and, when needed, adjusting internal structures to match and to respond to our stakeholders' needs. The tools we use in creating and communicating environmental knowledge will also have to be increasingly reliable, flexible and innovative to ensure that we are always ready to provide the knowledge needed when it is needed.

Hans Bruyninckx

Executive Director

Editorial published in the issue no. 2013/1 of the EEA newsletter, October 2013


Geographic coverage

Temporal coverage

Document Actions