Sustainability in Europe
Martin's Brussels Hotel, 15th of April 2018
The Martin’s Brussels Hotel in Boulevard de Charlemagne saw, on the past 15th of April, a presentation on the current issues on sustainable development that are being discussed in the neighbouring Berlaymont building, notorious home to the European Commission in Brussels. Some honourable experts and EU policymakers attended the meeting and turned it into a high-profile panel discussion on the need for an urgent, effective and immediate response to the unsustainable production and consumption system the EU countries are following.
Careless use of resources is leading to an unsustainable path towards development creating something similar to a vicious circle, where powerful business interests and a longstanding negligence of the problem by the Member States seem to do nothing to redress it. A weak enforcement of the EU climate regulations and a somewhat lacking policy-making effort by the Member States are to blame for the virtually inexistent change in the climate figures over the last 10 years throughout the continent. The Paris Protocol and the 12 UN Sustainable Development Goals seem to have fallen into wet paper, but the member of the Budget Committee in the European Parliament Mr. Petri Sarvamaa was clear to point out that these are nonetheless the appropriate baselines on which we need to build the future agenda on sustainability. In fact, he revealed that the Parliament’s goal for Horizon 2020 is to raise the Commission’s climate budget from the 19,4% of the recent 2018 proposal to an ideal 30%. Mr Janez Potocnik, former EU Commissioner for Environment, likewise drew the attention to the 1992 Rio Conventions on Sustainability, calling for the creation of a new instrument to unify such three conventions adapting them to the current European economic model. This instrument shall be the MFF, expected to be released by summer 2019, a document that has been at the centre of the discussion throughout the conference. Many expectations are put on the MFF, judging by the speakers’ interventions, as a milestone in climate change policies and gamechanging sustainable development measures which must be, according to Mr. Potocnik, the result of a common effort of all Member States to sacrifice part of their sovereignty for the sake of the planet.
An interesting insight into the autonomous territory of Aland, in the Finnish peninsula, provided the audience with an extraordinary example of a global and long-term sustainable governance with no precedent, which despite the small size of the country can be scalable to a wider European level. This possibility raises the hopes of many of the experts that gathered at the event, as long as – hopefully – the Member States are finally able to set their differences and economic interests aside and start focusing on the much more concerning issue of protecting the planet for generations to come.