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Sustainable Development

Human progress is only sustainable when economic prosperity, social justice and a healthy environment go hand in hand. All three issues are important to citizens in Europe and they are crucial to ensuring lasting welfare - welfare that not only takes our needs into account, but also the needs of future generations.

The EU Treaty requires the integration of sustainable development considerations into all European policies, so that they mutually reinforce each other and contribute towards the EU's economic, environmental and social objectives. Under the umbrella of sustainable development, EU environmental policies seek to ensure an environment that is at the same time productive and clean. It needs to provide the resources for economic activities, allow us and future generations to live healthily, and be enjoyable so we can continue to derive pleasure and fulfilment from it.

Since 2001, the Commission has been implementing a sustainable development strategy. A lot of progress has been made, but despite important achievements, unsustainable trends persist. These include climate change, the loss of biodiversity, increased pressure on natural resources, and a widening gap between the rich and the poor in the world. Addressing these issues is a priority for the EU and in 2006 we adopted a renewed and strengthened sustainable development strategy.

Sustainable development – EU environment website