Press Release

European Environment Agency pays tribute to Poul Harremoës

Press Release Published 02 Dec 2003 Last modified 28 Jun 2016
3 min read
The European Environment Agency today paid tribute to Prof. Poul Harremoës, a globally renowned water engineer and long-serving member of the EEA's Scientific Committee, who has died after a short illness.


Copenhagen, 2 December 2003

European Environment Agency pays tribute to Poul Harremoës

The European Environment Agency today paid tribute to Prof. Poul Harremoës, a globally renowned water engineer and long-serving member of the EEA's Scientific Committee, who has died after a short illness.

Prof. Jacqueline McGlade, the Agency's Executive Director, said:

"Poul Harremoës was a true friend and supporter of the EEA from its beginnings 10 years ago. He always offered great encouragement and, as one of the most active members of the Scientific Committee over a period of eight years, helped to ensure that the scientific quality and direction of the Agency's work approached his own very high standards."

"The EEA owes Poul an enormous debt of gratitude and he will be greatly missed among us. I know that all staff who knew him will join me in extending our deepest condolences to his widow, Hanne, and their family."

Leo Larsen, Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Danish Ministry of Environment and Denmark's member of the EEA Management Board, commented:

"For many years Poul Harremoës represented the best in Danish science. I know that his expertise was a major support in the challenge of creating the European Environment Agency from scratch, and we are grateful for his substantive work in the EEA's Scientific Committee."

Prof. Harremoës was Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark for over 30 years until his death last week at the age of 69. He played a leading role in the establishment of the Danish ministry of Environment, the first of its kind in the world. His awards include the Stockholm Water Prize (1992) and the Heineken Prize for environmental science (2000).

In addition to his membership of the EEA's Scientific Committee, Prof. Harremoës chaired the editorial team that produced one of the Agency's most successful reports, Late lessons from early warnings: the precautionary principle 1896-2000, published in 2001.

Prof. Philippe Bourdeau, chair of the Scientific Committee from 1994 to 2002, added:

"Poul Harremoës was a world-class expert in water engineering whose inquisitive mind led him to delve into new developments on the environmental scene, such as the application of the precautionary principle. The EEA project on this topic that he so enthusiastically implemented produced one of the Agency's best-known publications. He will be remembered and missed by all who met him and worked with him."

At the time of his death Prof. Harremoës was preparing an ambitious international conference on the precautionary principle to be held next year.

David Gee, who led the EEA's work on the Late lessons report, said Prof. Harremoës developed a "passion" for the subject as a result of working on the report and was rapidly becoming a globally recognised expert on the precautionary principle.

"Poul Harremoës worked with a mischievous sense of humour, impatience with process and a passion for detail. He was a formidable sparring partner in the intellectual jousting he loved, yet always generous in his support for students, Agency staff and recent recruits to the fields he knew well. The Agency has lost a great friend and supporter," Mr Gee said.

About the EEA

The European Environment Agency is the main source of information used by the European Union and its Member States in developing environment policies. The Agency aims to support sustainable development and to help achieve significant and measurable improvement in Europe's environment through the provision of timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information to policy-making agents and the public. Established by the EU in 1990 and operational in Copenhagen since 1994, the EEA is the hub of the European environment information and observation network (Eionet), a network of around 300 bodies across Europe through which it both collects and disseminates environment-related data and information.

The Agency, which is open to all nations that share its objectives, currently has 31 member countries. These are the 15 EU Member States; Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, which are members of the European Economic Area; and the 13 EU acceding and candidate countries, namely Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, the Slovak Republic and Turkey. The EEA is the first EU body to take in the acceding and candidate countries. Negotiations on EEA membership are also under way with Switzerland.


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