Green Cities Fit for Life

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New Year, New Focus: EEA priorities in 2014

15th January 2014

The start of the year is often a time for new projects and change. The European Environment Agency (EEA) has marked the start of 2014 with a new 5-year work programme and a new set of environmental policy priorities.

Late last year the European Union approved its 7th Environmental Action Programme (EAP), which sets out the priorities of environmental policymaking in the EU for 2014-2020. Entitled ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’, it puts a particular focus on ensuring a healthy environment and resource efficient economy for human well-being.

Courtesy of ec.europa.eu

Courtesy of ec.europa.eu

Staying within the limits of the planet’s natural resources will require a new approach to the way we use resources in the EU. In 2014, the priority environment focus will be on resource use, including using resources more efficiently – for example, by improving recycling rates and waste treatment. This theme replaces the 2013 theme, the ‘Year of Air’.

As part of the theme, several concepts will frame EEA work throughout 2014. One is the ‘circular economy,’ in which waste is seen as an important resource to be fed back into the economy. Another is the ‘green economy’, interpreted as an economic system which simultaneously uses resources more efficiently, enhances human well-being and maintains natural systems. Work will focus on what these concepts mean for Europe in practice, including the longer-term transitions needed to realise them.

As over two thirds of European citizens live in towns and cities, their quality of life and the quality of their environment depends upon how cities look and how they function. European urban areas face a number of environmental challenges.

Sustainability is the concept from which the European Green Capital Award was conceived. Urban areas concentrate most of the sustainability challenges facing society but also bring together commitment and innovation to resolve them. The European Green Capital Award has been conceived to promote and reward these efforts.

The environmental management of a city is a very complex and often overlapping task. Glasgow, which was one of the cities shortlisted for the 2015 European Green Capital Award, showcases what cities can do in terms of Integrated Environmental Management in the urban environment. Glasgow is hosting the twentieth Commonwealth Games this year and as part of the environmental legacy from the Games, the Council is committed to implementing ISO 20121 on sustainable event management. It is anticipated that all Glasgow future events will be accredited under this international standard. The aim is that ISO 20121 will be used throughout the world on all types of events in order to make a difference to society through knowledge transfer or legacy projects.

For more information on the European Green Capital Award click here.

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