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Pan-European region makes high-level commitments towards greening economies

Published: 09 June 2016

Food waste, ecosystem services and green public procurement among pledged topics forming new Batumi Initiative on Green Economy

Countries and stakeholders from the pan-European region have today agreed on a roadmap to speed up the transition to a Green Economy between now and 2030 and made an array of pledges translating this into action.

States endorsed a pan-European Strategic Framework equipping countries with a common vision and three broad objectives to reduce environmental risks and ecological scarcities, enhance economic progress and improve human well-being and social equity for the transition to a Green Economy, with nine focus areas to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030 targets.

The Batumi Initiative on Green Economy (BIG-E) was also launched, made up of voluntary actions from more than twenty countries as well as public and private bodies. “We are pleased to see so many concrete pledges, coming directly from ministers, to put the Green Economy transition in motion in our region,” said Jan Dusik, Head of UNEP’s Regional Office for Europe.

“Old polluting devices such as combustion engines, incandescent light bulbs and old heating systems need to be replaced by electric mobility, LED lamps and modern heat pumps. This creates jobs while protecting the environment, and governments have a key role to play,” Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard and Goodwill Ambassador of the UN Environment Programme told ministers in a video message.

“We must think big to shift to a green and inclusive economy,” said Christian Friis Bach, UNECE Executive Secretary. “We need leadership and a strong alliance of all stakeholders in society!”

Countries take up the mantle: examples of pledges

Food

As part of the BIG-E, Lithuania has pledged to ban the disposal of food in landfills and will establish a service collecting produce that would otherwise have gone to waste from residential areas and the catering sector. Policy measures needed to reduce food waste will meanwhile be mapped in Hungary. Linked to this, the Netherlands and Switzerland pledge to work on recapturing phosphorous from their economies and Germany announced a programme promoting the sustainable extraction and use of natural resources along the entire value chain.

Ecosystem services

Sweden has meanwhile tasked its national statistics body to examine how ecosystem services can be included in environmental accounting, and will produce a guide for their valuation. “By 2018, biodiversity and ecosystem services are to be integrated in all relevant decisions in society,” said the country’s Environment Minister Karolina Skog. Germany committed to establish methods for the economic valuation of environmental damage to better inform policy makers on the costs of policy alternatives, while Poland will establish a national market for carbon savings from forests and aims to protect them from threats linked to climate change.

Sustainable public procurement

Sustainable public procurement is a priority for Italy – where minimum environmental criteria already exist for products related to energy and a new scheme for boosting national eco-products was pledged, and Croatia – where action plans on the topic are already underway and an online platform will be created to exchange practices.

Green technology

Green technology will furthermore receive a boost in Switzerland thanks to a CHF 4.2 million annual promotion loan for pilot projects from both the public and private sectors. Loans with at attractive rates will also be created in Lithuania in order to boost the energy efficiency of multi-apartment buildings, which will be required to reach a minimum energy rating – thereby creating jobs while curbing consumers’ bills and emissions.  

Fiscal and other measures

Latvia will revise its tax code to provide incentives for sustainable waste management. Moldova announced measures to boost green small and medium enterprises, while Luxembourg announced a novel partnership at state and municipality level supporting measures aimed at tackling climate change. 

The voluntary pledges were made during the Green Economy session of the Eighth Environment for Europe (EfE) conference, which sees ministers and other high level representatives from the region gather to identify and address environmental priorities.

Note to editors

The two main themes being addressed during the Eighth EfE Ministerial Conference are the transition to a Green Economy and measures for improving air quality.

For a full list of BIG-E pledges made today please click here. For more on the pan-European Strategic Framework for Greening the Economy in the pan-European region please click here.

The main goals of the EfE process, which is led by UNECE, are to harmonize environmental policies, enhance the quality of our common environment and contribute to peace, stability and sustainable development. EfE ministerial conferences are held every four to five years.

UNEP defines a Green Economy as one that results in improved human wellbeing and reduced inequalities in the long-term, without exposing future generations to significant environmental risks or ecological scarcities.

Solar Impulse is an attempt to complete the first solar flight around the world by the Swiss psychiatrist, explorer and aeronaut Bertrand Piccard and fellow national engineer, entrepreneur and pilot André Borschberg.

For more information contact

Isabelle Valentiny, Head of Communications, UNEP Regional Office for Europe on Tel. +41 79 251 82 36 or isabelle.valentiny@unep.org

Jean Rodriguez, Chief, Information Unit, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe on Tel. +41 22 917 27 27 or jean.rodriguez@unece.org


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