EU Science Hub

Forward-looking reflection on the future of EU environmental policy and the 2050 sustainability transition

Abstract: 

The ultimate goal of EU environmental policies is spelled out in the title and vision of EU’s 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP): ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’. The Commission considers that this vision continues to be valid and fully in line with the UN Agenda 2030. However, in spite of the EU’s ambitious policy action the achievement of the 7th EAP vision is greatly challenged. All indicators show that the Earth is facing an unprecedented ecological crisis and that many planetary boundaries have already been crossed: the economic and societal development witnessed over the past century has also caused unprecedented environmental degradation. In this context, three services of the European Commission (DG ENV, the Joint Research Centre and DG RTD) and the European Environment Agency joined their efforts to run an inclusive and participatory forward-looking process to support the reflection on the future of EU environmental policies. This process focussed on three priority themes: 1. Consumption and lifestyles 2. Sustainable food systems 3. Future of industry These three themes were addressed in a foresight approach through three dedicated one-day workshops and generated a number of common conclusions: • The need for a politically agreed 2050 vision. • The need to adopt a systems approach to policy making • The realisation of the important role of citizens • The need to help businesses adopt truly sustainable business models • The importance of ensuring transparency and traceability of products throughout their life cycle • The need to take an integrated approach to the environmental challenges industry is facing • The need for an integrated policy covering food safety, security and sustainability to ensure the sustainability of the EU food system. • The realisation that EU sustainability and global sustainability go hand in hand.