Espadas to coordinate the European Committee of the Regions' Green Deal Working
The Commission for the Environment, Climate change and Energy (ENVE) of the European Committee of the Regions has elected the mayor of the Spanish city of Seville, Juan Espadas (ES/PES), as its new Chair. The upcoming Circular Economy Action Plan and Climate Pact, the 8th Environmental Action Programme, biodiversity protection, air quality and water management are amongst the key dossiers on the table. Not least, Juan Espadas will lead the works of the newly created Green Deal Working Group, which is to ensure the voice of cities and regions is at the heart of the EU's path towards climate-neutrality.
With an academic background in EU and environmental law and 30 years' experience developing public policies in territorial planning and the preservation of the environment, Juan Espadas, mayor of Seville, is not a newcomer in sustainability matters.
From 1990 to 1996, Juan Espadas was a top manager at the environmental agency and at the regional ministry for the environment of the Andalucía government. From 1997 to 2000, Espadas was secretary general of EGMASA, an environmental management public company of the Andalucía regional government. From 2000, the new ENVE chair acted as director general for environmental quality and preservation of Andalucía. From 2004 to 2008, Juan Espadas became deputy regional minister for the environment and after acted as regional minister for housing and urban planning from 2008 to 2010. From 2010 to 2013, Espadas was vice-president of the commission for the environment and climate change of the Spanish senate.
Juan Espadas was elected Mayor of Seville in 2015 and re-elected in 2019. Mayor Espadas is a permanent member of the European Committee of the Regions since September 2016. Juan Espadas is also president of the Spanish Network of Cities for Climate and member of the political board of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.
On 13 February, after his election as new ENVE Chair, Juan Espadas declared: “I am the mayor of the fourth largest city in Spain, Seville. For me, the European Committee of the Regions is where cities meet, find common solutions and fight for EU policies to be targeted to their needs. One of the key issues my presidency will focus on is on coordinating the works around the Green Deal, which has to, above all, support cities in fighting the climate crisis while making them more socially inclusive. A just transition means addressing social inequalities and the climate emergency together. This is why we need the Green Deal to be adequately financed with additional new resources. It cannot happen at the expense of other important policies for our territories, like the Cohesion Policy. The climate targets set at global, European and national levels – and of course, the Sustainable Development Goals, need to be translated into local realities.
“I thus believe the role of cities will be even more important in the future. The Covenant of Mayors, for instance, is an excellent example of urban climate action already delivering concrete results. Without cities and regions, the European Union will not be able to become sustainable nor carbon neutral. Without the EU, cities and regions will not be able to face this challenge either. We need more cooperation, a better understanding of local realities, more ambition and, most importantly, we must deliver. Cities can strengthen the European project. If we want to make the European Union more credible, we need to involve them in all decisions."
Juan Espadas is currently the rapporteur of the opinion The renewal of the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities. “With the renewal of the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities, we are calling for a reformed multi-level governance that puts cities at the centre of EU decision-making. Mayors around Europe are working hard to find solutions to tackle the climate crisis, address growing inequality and build sustainable communities. Cities can translate the European Union's objectives into reality but they need to be given a bigger role in designing and implementing these policies as well as the necessary resources to invest in sustainable development", said Mayor Espadas.
The 2007 Leipzig Charter is a political declaration, which aimed both to promote greater use of integrated urban development policies and to pay attention to disadvantaged neighbourhoods within the overall context of cities. It was the first step towards an urban agenda for the EU. In the second half of 2020, the German Presidency of the EU will call for a renewed Leipzig Charter, fostering the transition of our cities towards a greener, fairer and more competitive social model.
The ENVE Commission has elected Rastislav Trnka (SK/EPP), Chairman of Košice Self – Governing Region in Slovakia as 1st Vice-Chair and Emmanuel Disabato (BE/Greens), member of the Parliament of the Wallonia region as 2nd Vice-Chair.
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