How can Europe stay the course on sustainability amid shocks and crises? How do we anchor environment and climate priorities with other emerging ones like security, competitiveness and fairness without losing sight of the long-term sustainability objective of ‘living well within the limits of our planet’? A new strategic foresight report, published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) today, calls for the need to further align European economic, social and security policies with the climate and environmental objectives.

Failing to do so would put the coherence of EU’s strategic agenda at risk, hamper implementation of crucial climate, environment, and sustainability objectives, and reduce Europe’s ability to deal with ongoing multiple shocks and crises.

The ‘Europe’s Sustainability Transitions Outlook’ report highlights the need to take a broader view on such priorities as security, competitiveness or fairness. It recognises that Europe’s socio-economic systems and wellbeing of its citizens depend crucially on a healthy and resilient natural environment, a stable climate and long-term sustainable use of resources. 

The report calls for a more effective alignment of public and private funding and integration of all EU’s policies with the long-term sustainability objectives.

Europe's sustainability transitions outlook
Short-term action, long-term thinking
Leena Ylä-Mononen
Leena Ylä-Mononen
EEA Executive Director

The nature of the many crises we face means that now, more than ever, we need to stick to our long-term sustainability goals and policy aims and anchor these environmental and wellbeing aims into the new priority areas like security and competitiveness. Also environmental protection and restoration must go hand in hand with justice and equity. Without the support of citizens, we cannot make this shift to sustainability a success.

The foresight report puts forward several ideas of how to ‘anchor’ sustainability objectives in EU’s policies to converge with the long-term vision of ‘living well within the limits of our planet.’ Among these ideas, the report suggests the EU needs to foster approaches to sustainable wellbeing that go beyond economic models focused solely on growth.

Another idea is to broaden the understanding of security and resilience to encompass not only military and defence aspects, but also broader societal concerns such as ecological and societal resilience. The interdependence of security and resilience, especially when it comes to climate-induced risks, underscores the need for a comprehensive approach. Opportunities exist in linking security priorities with sustainability, with the potential to reduce climate-related migration and dependency on fossil fuels.

Regarding justice and fairness, the report calls for more integration between justice considerations and environmental goals. For example, fairness also intersects with health inequality exacerbated by environmental hazards, emphasizing the need for justice in building resilience to climate change.

Follow the launch event on 3 July

The report was presented and discussed on Wednesday, 3 July, in Brussels at a joint EEA-Friends of Europe event ‘Navigating the EU’s sustainability transitions in a polycrisis world’. Additional information on the event, including registration information, is available on the event page.

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