EEA warns EU will exploit rest of planet unless it curbs resource consumption

The European Union has been warned it faces a choice between exploiting the rest of the planet, or becoming drastically more efficient in its use of natural resources if it is to meet its 'Lisbon Strategy' goals of becoming the world's most dynamic and competitive economy.

Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EEA) made the comments at a dinner in Copenhagen to mark the 10th Anniversary of the Agency.

She said the Agency’s analyses showed that “competing demands for space in a rapidly changing set of landscapes” already posed a major challenge for Europe, and the EUs Lisbon goal was placing even harsher demands on its land resources.

“These demands on the natural capital have spilled out well beyond Europe’s boundaries. So much so that we must now face up to the realisation that to move forward on a trajectory designed to meet the Lisbon agenda, Europe will have no option other than to exploit the rest of the planet or fundamentally alter the way in which it does business by becoming dramatically more efficient in its use of land and other natural resources,” she said. “I can only hope it will choose the latter.”

Prof. McGlade noted that public trust in governmental decision making was at a very low ebb across much of Europe and said that governmental debate should not just focus on the economy but on the natural resources required to support the economy – making the EEA’s role as an interlocutor and source of objective, reliable information even more critical.

“The challenge for the Agency is to ensure that the citizens of Europe can feel confident about what they read and hear, that they can communicate in a two way process and that the debate about Europe’s future is not a sterile debate, but one that will truly reflect what is possible today without exhausting our resources for future generations,” she said.

Over 300 guests attended the 10th anniversary dinner which also included speakers such as environment commissioner Margot Wallstrom, Domingo Jimenez-Beltran, first executive director of the EEA and now soecial advisor to the Spanish Prime Minister.

By David Hopkins

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