Untitled | Sustainability | Sustainable Development

C 81/28

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

4.4.2006

2.8 recommends that subsidies for activities contributing to climate change be abolished; 2.9 supports and reiterates the Council proposal to set targets for the post-2012 period; like the Council, it considers that for developed countries, it would be appropriate to set reduction targets of between 15 % and 30 % by 2020 in relation to the reference values established by the Kyoto Protocol; beyond this date, it recommends that values should be set in line with the spirit of the conclusions adopted by the Environment Council (60 % to 80 % by 2050); Brussels, 12 October 2005.

2.10 proposes that the thematic strategy for the urban environment create incentives for combating climate change; 2.11 recommends that the cost/benefit analysis of limiting temperature increases to 2oC should be studied/researched in greater detail; the concentration of greenhouse gases required to achieve the objective of 2°C and the costs associated with such a reduction must be established more precisely; 2.12 suggests that towns continue to sign up to the LA21 process, and focus more on implementing this type of strategy.

The President of the Committee of the Regions
Peter STRAUB

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament The 2005 Review of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy: Initial Stocktaking and Future Orientations (2006/C 81/08)
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS,

Having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on The 2005 Review of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy: Initial Stocktaking and Future Orientations, COM(2005) 37 final; Having regard to the decision of the European Commission on 9 February 2005 to consult it on this subject, under Article 265(1) of the Treaty establishing the European Community; Having regard to the decision taken by its Bureau on 12 April 2005 to instruct the Commission for Sustainable Development to draw up the opinion on the subject; Having regard to the Communication from the Commission on A Sustainable Europe for a Better World: A European Union Strategy for Sustainable Development (Commission's proposal to the Gothenburg European Council), COM(2001)264 final; Having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on Towards a global partnership for sustainable development, COM(2002) 82 final; Having regard to the Communication from the Commission of 15 January 2002 to the Spring European Council in Barcelona on 15 and 16 March 2002, at which a new impetus was given to the strategy, adopted two years earlier at the Lisbon summit (COM(2002) 14), to make Europe the world's most dynamic, competitive and sustainable knowledge-based economy; Having regard to the exploratory opinion from the European Economic and Social Committee adopted on 28 April 2004, NAT/229 — CESE 661/2004; Having regard to the Declaration on Guiding Principles for Sustainable Development from the European Council on 16 and 17 June 2005;

4.4.2006

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 81/29

Having regard to its opinion on the Communication on Towards a thematic strategy on the sustainable use of natural resources, COM(2003) 572 final — CdR 11/2004 fin (1)); Having regard to its opinion of 14 November 2001 on the Commission Communication entitled Ten years after Rio: Preparing for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, (COM(2001) 53) — CdR 37/2001 fin (2); Having regard to its opinion of 15 June 2000 on the Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on a Community framework for cooperation to promote sustainable urban development, (COM(1999) 557 final — 1999/0233 (COD)) — CdR 134/2000 fin (3); Having regard to its opinion of 17 February on the Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on Directions towards sustainable agriculture, (COM(1999) 22 final) — CdR 183/1999 fin (4); Having regard to its opinion on the Communication from the Commission on Trade and Development — Assisting developing countries to benefit from trade (COM(2002) 513 final) — CdR 100/2003 fin (5); Having regard to its opinion on the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on Services in the internal market (COM(2004) 2 final-2004/0001 (COD) — CdR 154/2004 fin (6); Having regard to its draft opinion (CdR 66/2005 rev. 1) adopted on 28 June 2005 by its Commission for sustainable development (rapporteur: Ms Mona-Lisa Norrman, Member of Jämtland County Council, (SE/ PES)); Whereas
1)

Local and regional authorities are the decision-making and executive level which is closest to EU citizens. The measures needed to bring about sustainable development must be devised, accepted, implemented and monitored in dialogue with European Union citizens. In the EU's 25 Member States it is the local and regional level where the practical coordination between different policy sectors must take place. Similarly, it is at local and regional level that EU cohesion policy is put into practice. It is through the combined impact of measures implemented locally and regionally, both within the EU and globally, that the unsustainable trends that we see today can be reversed. The appropriate slogan is: Think globally, act locally.

2)

3)

adopted the following opinion unanimously at its 61st plenary session of 12 and 13 October 2005 (meeting of 12 October): 1. The Committee of the Regions' views General remarks The Committee of the Regions 1.1 welcomes the Commission Communication on the review of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy, which provides an initial assessment of the progress made and outlines a number of future orientations; 1.2 stresses that not enough progress has been made since the Sustainable Development Strategy was adopted in Gothenburg in 2001; agrees with the Commission that the focus must now be on a proactive approach towards sustainable development and concrete action on the ground;
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) OJ C 121, 30.4.2004, p. 47 OJ C 107, 3.5.2002, p. 9 OJ C 317, 6.11.2000, p. 33 OJ C 156, 6.6.2000, p. 40 OJ C 23, 27.1.2004, p. 8 OJ C 43, 18.2.2005, p. 18

1.3 points out that a three-dimensional approach to sustainable development, embracing economic, ecological and social aspects, is a precondition for growth, more and better jobs, increased welfare and a cleaner and healthier environment;

1.4 emphasises the importance of integrating and highlighting sustainable development in all areas of EU policy. It is important that cohesion policy supports the economic as well as the ecological and social dimensions and that due regard is paid to the long-term effects of policy. Equally, the future European Policy on Development and policy on Africa should ensure consistent support for sustainable development in international activities;

C 81/30 International trade

EN

Official Journal of the European Union Environmentally-driven businesses and green jobs

4.4.2006

1.5 stresses that the Lisbon Strategy is the basis for the EU's response to the impact of globalisations on competition, economy and labour force in Europe, but this should also reflect the impacts on sustainable development in Europe and internationally. The method to access sustainable development which is currently used, with regard to different international agreements, needs to be developed in order to better reflect the effect of globalization on public services and sustainable development at the local and regional level;

1.12 endorses the Commission's view that our future quality of life will depend on our production and consumption patterns. We need to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, through education and information on the health and environmental impact of goods and services. Environmental requirements in public procurement procedures also have an important part to play in changing production and consumption patterns; 1.13 underlines the need for measures to support the development of environmentally-driven businesses, especially SMEs. Research-intensive companies in the environmental technology sector should be specifically targeted for support in the context of the current proposal for the Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration (FP7);

Dialogue and cooperation 1.6 stresses the importance of effective dialogue with civil society. To this end the messages emanating from the Commission need to be consistent and well coordinated, and the strategy should be monitored and translated into concrete action;

Objectives, measures and monitoring The local and regional perspective 1.7 would particularly highlight the role and responsibility of local and regional authorities in achieving sustainable development. All government levels should collaborate to determine and implement the changes necessary to achieve a sustainable society through strong leadership; 1.14 supports the Commission's plan to set clear objectives, targets and related deadlines. This will make it possible to monitor, measure and report on the progress made; 1.15 stresses the need for active measures and concrete action to promote sustainable development. The forthcoming action programme must also include tools for implementing and monitoring the various measures and include local and regional authorities as key partners in drawing up the action programme;

Focus on citizens 1.8 stresses the importance of ensuring that efforts to promote sustainable development are geared to the needs and circumstances of EU citizens, in order to win their support. Local and regional authorities have an important role in this dialogue, and the Commission should support these efforts administratively and financially by: — developing consultation arrangements and creating natural forums for dialogue and exchange of experiences; — supporting local and regional development projects, both within the EU and globally; — increasing knowledge and awareness in the EU of the need for joint action to achieve a sustainable society; Public health, security and equality 1.9 emphasises that public health, in the broad sense, is a key requirement for achieving sustainable development; 1.10 points out that security is a prerequisite for a good quality of life, and together with a broad public health perspective, lies at the heart of efforts to promote sustainable development; 1.11 highlight also the need to incorporate an equal opportunities' perspective in initiatives to promote sustainable development;

Instruments for implementing sustainable development 1.16 stresses the importance of devising new instruments and improving existing ones. This is necessary so that the measures needed to promote sustainable development can be implemented, evaluated and monitored. The following instruments should be developed and adapted so as to make an effective contribution towards achieving sustainable development: — Environmental management systems The EU's Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) should be improved and adapted to sustainable development issues and needs. An environmental management system should be developed, including economic, ecological and social concerns. — Public procurement Including environmental requirements in public procurement contracts is a powerful tool for encouraging changes in production and consumption patterns in society. It should be further strengthened by, for example, highlighting the possibility of taking into account the environmental benefits of locally produced goods and services. Public procurement currently accounts for 15 % of the EU's GDP, or around EUR 1,000 billion.

4.4.2006

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 81/31

— Technology procurement Technology-procurement procedures should be developed, particularly in the fields of waste, energy, transport, water supply and sewerage, roads and other infrastructure. These are areas where the public sector has a responsibility at local and regional level. Research and development There is an urgent need to develop new and more environmentally sound technologies. The Commission's initiative to establish a number of technological platforms built on cooperation between the research community and the private business sector is a step in this direction. Discussions are being conducted by, for example, the European Parliament on the creation of ‘socially motivated research platforms’ for the express purpose of supporting and promoting sustainable development-related R&D. The Committee of the Regions endorses this initiative and would stress the need to extend it to include research and development in the fields of social and behavioural sciences. Specific initiatives are also needed to ensure that research results can be translated into practical action to further sustainable development at local and regional level. — Information and public awareness The Commission has, inter alia, adopted minimum standards for stakeholder consultation prior to decision-making in the environmental field. In addition, various initiatives have been taken to encourage the involvement of the private business sector in the drive for sustainable development. The Commission is not always the best messenger here. — Cooperation and exchange of experience The possibility to exchange experience and accumulate new knowledge through cooperation and interaction between various players are important parts of sustainable development efforts. A large number of organisations and networks within the EU are working to this end. — Monitoring and evaluation Monitoring and evaluation tools are needed to enable effective and targeted action to be taken to promote sustainable development. Health and environmental impact assessments are two examples, but more needs to be done to develop these tools. — Market-based instruments A number of market-based instruments are currently in use in the EU, such as environmentally-related taxes, emission-trading Brussels, 12 October 2005.

schemes and subsidies. These instruments need to be developed further, with the aim of ensuring that the prices of all economic activities reflect their true cost to society. — Spatial planning Many of the measures needed to promote sustainable development touch upon land and water use at local and regional level and are linked to spatial planning, like the implementation of the EU water directive or the thematic strategies for the urban environment and waste. — Legislation Legislation is another important tool for promoting sustainable development. However, some parts of both Community-wide and national legislation do not fully support efforts to promote sustainable development. Priority should be given to improving and developing existing legislation. In addition, coherence between different laws should be re-examined and improved, with the aim, inter alia, of establishing a simpler regulatory environment. Legislation should be backed up by new instruments and methods based on agreements between the social partners. Examples of this approach include agreements concluded in the context of the open coordination method, the Aalborg Charter and tripartite contracts. 2. The Committee of the Regions' recommendations The Committee of the Regions 2.1 stresses the importance of giving centre stage to EU citizens in efforts to achieve a sustainable society. The dialogue on physical and economic measures and on changes in consumption and behaviour patterns must be conducted in the light of circumstances at local and regional level; 2.2 believes that the objectives and measures needed in the work to promote sustainable development must be based on and adapted to circumstances at local and regional level; 2.3 emphasises the importance of developing new instruments and improving existing ones. This is necessary so as to enable the implementation, evaluation and monitoring of the measures needed to deliver sustainable development; 2.4 trusts that, in its ongoing review of the sustainable development strategy and its work on the action programme, the Commission will develop and deepen the dialogue with the local and regional level and intends to play an active role in ongoing efforts to achieve a sustainable society both within the European Union and globally.

The President of the Committee of the Regions
Peter STRAUB

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