Natural capital refers to the biodiversity that provides goods and services we rely on, from fertile soil and productive land and seas to fresh water and clean air. It includes vital services such as pollination of plants, natural protection against flooding, and the regulation of our climate.
The EAP commits the EU and its Member States to speed up the implementation of existing strategies, fill gaps where legislation doesn't yet exist, and improve existing legislation, including the 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Water Resources
In the context of rising natural resource prices, scarcity and dependency on imports, Europe's competitiveness and capacity for sustainable growth will depend on improving resource efficiency across the economy.
The EAP sets out the conditions that will help transform the EU into a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy. This requires:
There is a special focus on turning waste into a resource and to move towards more efficient use of our water resources.
The third key action area covers challenges to human health and wellbeing, such as air and water pollution, excessive noise, and chemicals. We need to make sure that Europe is sufficiently resilient to challenges posed by new and emerging risks, including the impacts of climate change.
In the EAP, all parties agree to:
Four "I"s to help Europe deliver on these goals
The programme includes an "enabling framework" with the next four priority objectives aiming towards:
Better implementation of existing legislation will bring numerous benefits for the environment, our health and the economy. Full implementation of EU waste legislation would:
Scientific research, monitoring and reporting environmental developments mean that our understanding of the environment is constantly increasing. This knowledge base should be made more accessible to citizens and policymakers to ensure policy continues to draw on a sound understanding of the state of the environment.
The EAP aims to:
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.
This can only happen if impacts on the environment are properly accounted for and if market signals also reflect the true costs to the environment. This involves:
Better integration of environmental concerns into other policy areas, such as regional policy, agriculture, fisheries, energy and transport will ensure better decision-making and coherent policy approaches that deliver multiple benefits.
Two further priority objectives complete the programme: tackling local and global challenges together.
Europe is densely populated and 80 % of its citizens are likely to live in or near a city by 2020. Cities often share a common set of problems such as poor air quality, high levels of noise, greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity, and waste.
The EAP aims to:
Many of the priority objectives in the EAP can only be achieved in cooperation with partner countries or as part of a global approach. The EU and its Member States are committed to: