The European Committee of the Regions' Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) met on 27 September to discuss the EU health policy and the resilience of cities. During the meeting, members also analysed how to boost consumption, increase production and further improve sustainability in the organic sector as well as in the blue economy. Both sectors can ensure a green and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting of the NAT commission started with a discussion on the EU's health policy and NAT's contribution to the Conference on the Future of Europe. During a health debate with Vytenis Andriukaitis, UNWHO Special Envoy and former Commissioner for Health, and Maria João Rodrigues, President of the European Foundation of Progressive Studies (FEPS) and member of the CoR High-Level Group on Democracy, local leaders shared experiences from the ground and underlined the need to strengthen EU health policy framework.
The signing ceremony of the UNDRR-CoR Joint Action Plan took place during the NAT Commission meeting. After the ceremony, Octavian Bivol, Head of UNDRR Regional Office for Europe, presented the Making Cities Resilient 2030 (MCR2030) campaign, a cross-stakeholder initiative to improve local resilience through advocacy, share knowledge and experiences, establish mutually reinforcing city-to-city learning networks, inject technical expertise, connect multiple layers of government and build partnerships.
The UNDRR-CoR Joint Action Plan builds on the success of the collaboration between the two institutions, which ran from 2016 to 2020. Since 2012, the CoR and the UNDRR ROE have been collaborating to promote disaster risk reduction (DRR) at local level in European countries.
The members of the NAT commission adopted the following opinions:
· Uroš BREŽAN (SL/GREENS) - EU action plan for organic farming
The aim of the action plan for the development of organic production is to increase the production and consumption of organic products, thereby reducing the use of fertilisers, pesticides and antimicrobials. Under three axes - increasing consumption, increasing production and further improving the sustainability of the sector - 23 actions are proposed to ensure sustainable growth. Local and regional authorities should be closely involved in both implementation and evaluation of the action plan, stressed CoR members. The opinion recommends the involvement of local and regional authorities, which will allow the specificity of each place to be taken into account, as set out in the Territorial Agenda 2030, and the needs of rural, peri-urban and urban areas across Europe to be met.
· Bronius MARKAUSKAS (LT/EA) - Sustainable blue economy and aquaculture
As aquaculture has recently become a particularly important area of the blue economy, the opinion calls for a clear definition of "sustainable aquaculture", taking into account environmental, social and economic criteria. This is a sector with considerable potential, both economically and in terms of environmental protection. It also creates jobs, offers new economic development opportunities for coastal and rural populations, and contributes to mitigate the effects of climate change and to protect ecosystems. The rapporteur calls for local authorities to be more involved in the development of aquaculture policy. He also points out that the regions need clear guidelines for sustainable aquaculture development in the EU, and a detailed action plan. The opinion advocates also reducing the administrative burden and improving competitiveness, which allows aquaculture to develop effectively.
· Birgitta Sacrédeus (SE/EPP) – Europe's Beating Cancer Plan
NAT commission members attended a debate with Bartosz Arłukowicz (PL/EPP), Chair of the Special committee on Beating cancer (BECA) in the European Parliament. The same day Birgitta Sacrédeus discussed the CoR opinion on Europe’s Cancer Beating Plan at the European Parliament (Engagement of regional authorities key to address inequalities in cancer prevention and cure across Europe) .
The three opinions are to be adopted at the CoR's plenary session on 3 December 2021.
Members had an exchange of views on the upcoming opinion on a long-term vision for Rural Areas.
· Juan Manuel MORENO BONILLA (ES/EPP) - A long-term Vision for Rural Areas
As part of his work, Juanma Moreno will hold a consultation with stakeholders and discuss the long-term vision with elected representatives from local and regional authorities across Europe. Franc Bogovič (SI/EPP), Co-chair of the RUMRA & Smart Villages Intergroup in the European Parliament, and Deša Srsen, Deputy Head of Cabinet of the European Commission's Vice-President Dubravka Šuica, joined the debate on the European Commission's communication on a Long-term vision for the EU’s Rural Areas. Local authorities' underlined the importance of improving public transport services and connectivity, as well as deepening digital infrastructures; and diversify economic activities to new sectors in order to make rural areas more prosperous. The long-term vision should incorporate climate action and better prepare local economies for climate change, natural hazards such as fires, and economic crises. Rural areas must not be left behind, concluded the rapporteur Juanma Moreno.
Watch the meeting again: webstreaming link.
· Making Cities Resilient 2030 (MCR2030)
· EU action plan for organic farming
· Turning the tide on cancer: the national parliaments' view on Europe's Cancer Plan
· A long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas
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