Sustainability transitions

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The globalised and systemic character of the environmental challenges ahead implies that achieving the EU’s long-term sustainability goals will require fundamental change in core societal systems, in particular those related to food, energy, mobility and the built environment. More

Key facts and messages
The world population may rise beyond 9.6 billion by 2050, despite a slowing rate of growth. Most of the increase is likely to occur in urban areas in developing regions. Growing and younger populations in the developing world, the global growth... more
Demographic trends are likely to increase global resource demand and related environmental pressures. This points to the need for Europe to persist with efforts to decouple resource use from economic development. more
Urban growth is driving land-use change in Europe, with peri-urban areas developing at four times the rate of towns and cities. Integrated urban management could increase the environmental resilience of Europe’s cities, particularly in the... more
Responses to sustainability challenges are dispersed across EU legislation and policies, while the evidence base to track progress is still fragmented. more
The role of cities is critical in achieving Europe's objectives for a low carbon, resource-efficient and ecosystems resilient society. more
EU-28 domestic material consumption declined by 10% between 2000 and 2012, despite a 16% increase in economic output. Environmental pressures such as waste generation and harmful emissions were also reduced. Policies have contributed to this... more
Largely due to its combined natural and cultural attractiveness, Europe is the world's primary tourism destination and tourism generates 10% of EU GDP. New types of tourism and increased frequency of holidays have serious environmental impacts... more
Urban areas in developing countries will absorb most of the global population increase, with 67 % of people living in cities by 2050. Most of the growth is expected to be in megacities, particularly slums. Compact cities are the most efficient... more
The pace of technological change, particularly in the fields of information, communication, nano- and bio-technologies, is unprecedented. This provides opportunities to reduce humanity’s impact on the environment and reliance on non-renewable... more
The risks and uncertainties associated with technological innovation can be managed using regulatory frameworks and the precautionary principle. By recalibrating its institutions, policies and environmental knowledge base, Europe can support... more
Per capita consumption of material resources increased between 2000 and 2012 in 13 countries and decreased in 19. Significant increases were primarily due to large-scale infrastructure investments, with the largest declines related to the economic... more
Europe's resource efficiency has improved in recent years but this has not always translated into improved ecosystem resilience or reduced risks to health and well-being. Creating a green economy will require fundamental changes in the production-consumption... more
Four countries have consistently been the most resource-efficient economies, with six remaining at the bottom of resource-productivity rankings, indicating opportunities for further improvements and actions. more
75% of Europeans — and more in the future — live in or around cities. The quality of life therein depends much on the environmental conditions. Insufficiently managed urbanisation leads to an increase in 'land take', soil sealing, fragmentation... more

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