The programme identifies three priority areas where more action is needed to protect nature and strengthen ecological resilience, boost resource-efficient, low-carbon growth, and reduce threats to human health and wellbeing linked to pollution, chemical substances, and the impacts of climate change:
- The first action area is linked to “natural capital” – from fertile soil and productive land and seas to fresh water and clean air – as well as the biodiversity that supports it. Natural capital includes vital services such as pollination of plants, natural protection against flooding, and the regulation of our climate. Biodiversity and safeguarding of water is also a concern .
- The second action area concerns the conditions that will help transform the EU into a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy.
- The third key action area covers challenges to human health and wellbeing, such as air and water pollution, excessive noise, and toxic chemicals.
In addition the following points should be mentioned:
- Better implementation of existing legislation will bring numerous benefits.
- Secondly scientific research, monitoring and reporting environmental developments mean that our understanding of the environment is constantly increasing.
- Thirdly adequate investments and innovation in products, services and public policies will be needed from public and private sources, in order to achieve the objectives set out in the programme.
- The fourth is enabling condition in the programme is better integration of environmental concerns into other policy areas, such as regional policy, agriculture, fisheries, energy and transport.
- The fifth is to help cities become more sustainable. Europe is densely populated and 80 % of its citizens are likely to live in or near a city by 2020.
- The final priority concerns wider global challenges. Many of the priority objectives in the EAP can only be achieved in cooperation with partner countries or as part of a global approach.
Further details about the General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 can be found on the following website: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/newprg/index.htm. In addition, DG Environment’s website features more detailed information on policies and actions: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/index_en.htm