Today, the members of the Stakeholder Platform announced by the EU Action Plan: Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil met for the first time to start developing the 2022-2024 work programme, meant to support the implementation of the Action Plan. The platform is a joint initiative of the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions.
The President of the European Committee of the Regions and Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia in Greece, Apostolos Tzitzikostas said: “Pollution is the leading environmental cause of disease and premature death around the world and is impacting our climate, ecosystems, built environment and local economies. Pollution does not stop at borders and hits the health and wellbeing of our local communities. By co-chairing the Zero Pollution Stakeholder Platform, we are committed to making the EU work to support every city, region and village. Europe's local and regional governments are acting to protect their people and environment, but now need direct technical and financial EU support to accelerate our efforts to deliver zero-pollution.”
Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius added: “The Zero Pollution Stakeholder Platform has an important role to play in implementing our Action Plan. There is a lot of work ahead of us. We invite all stakeholders involved to develop and share good practices, and to seek synergies with other relevant initiatives, be it the European Climate Pact, the Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform or others.”
The Zero Pollution Stakeholder Platform will help deliver on the flagship initiatives and actions set out in the Zero Pollution Action Plan by:
- bringing together actors from different communities and areas of expertise to tackle inter-related challenges, e.g. strengthening a joint environment and health agenda;
- defining a common vision on how to achieve zero pollution objectives;
The co-chairs of the Zero Pollution Stakeholder Platform are Marieke Schouten (NL/Greens), Alderman of the municipality of Nieuwegein and CoR's rapporteur on the 'EU Action Plan: 'Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil' and Patrick Child, Deputy Director-General of DG Environment of the European Commission.
The Zero-Pollution Stakeholder Platform aims to effectively mainstream the zero pollution agenda and the implementation of the EU's Zero-Pollution Action Plan. It will bring together stakeholders and experts of different policy areas, such as health, agriculture, research and innovation, transport, digitalisation and the environment. The platform is to create co-ownership, promote collaboration, and foster integrated solutions to maximise synergies with decarbonisation and post-COVID-19 recovery efforts. The Platform is a joint initiative of the European Commission (EC) and the European Committee of the Regions (CoR).
Over 100 cities in the EU still do not meet EU air quality standards. According to the EEA’s latest estimates, 307,000 people died prematurely due to exposure to fine particulate matter pollution in the EU in 2019. At least 58%, or 178,000 of these deaths, could have been avoided if all EU Member States had reached the WHO’s new air quality guideline level of 5 µg/m3.
On water, seven EU capital cities do not meet the minimum water quality requirements. Ensuring proper wastewater treatment will require investments of over EUR 200 billion in the coming years (EC).
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