The conclusions of the 6th Annual Conference
of European Environmental Advisory Councils, Helsinki, 17-19 September
ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY INTEGRATION AND IMPLEMENTATION
European Environmental Advisory Councils provide
independent advice to regional and national governments on a wide
range of issues including societal, scientific, international,
sustainable and long-term aspects of environmental policy goals.
At the Sixth Annual Conference of European Environmental
Advisory Councils (17-19 September 1998 in Tuusula, Finland, organized
by the Finnish Council for Environment and Natural Resources)
experiences and views regarding "Policy Integration and Implementation"
were exchanged and discussed. Also present were representatives
from the European Commission DGXI and the European Environment
Integration and implementation was considered
at an EU-wide, national, regional and local level. Sectoral workshops
examining agriculture, forestry, tourism and transport allowed
for a wide-ranging analysis of the ways in which environmental
considerations are integrated into policy areas.
The following conclusions reflect the debate
and opinions expressed at this meeting and outline the current
and future contribution that European Environmental Advisory Councils
can make to the Europe-wide integrative process.
The process currently being driven by Rio+10,
the Kyoto protocol and world trade and environment discussions
is evolving a global context which, although it carries risks,
provides opportunities at all levels for integrating the environment
into policies of different sectors.
At a European level, Articles 2 and 6 of the
Amsterdam Treaty require the environment to be integrated into
all policy of the EU. In order to achieve that there will be a
need for increased dialogue between the European Commission, Member
States and key sectors. Contributing constructively to that dialogue
must be a priority task for European Environmental Advisory Councils.
The developing European Community "Partnership
for Integration" Strategy, as presented at the Cardiff Summit,
is a vital response to the new Amsterdam Treaty. Articles 2 and
6 of the Strategy secure from Member States a commitment to sustainable
development and environmental integration in Community policy
and activity. Alongside this, DGXI is carrying out a global assessment
of the implementation of the 5th Environmental Action Programme.
Advisory Councils can, and should, be involved in contributing
to and influencing this process.
Integrating environmental considerations into
all policy sectors is a significant challenge facing environmentalists
now and into the next century. The process of policy integration
is both diverse and complex. The effective integration of environmental
concerns into policy making requires that environmental well being
and enhancement is a key objective in policy appraisal, design
and implementation, alongside a consideration of the needs of
social and economic development. Sustainable development can only
be achieved where environmental, social and economic needs are
fully integrated. It is essential to achieve both horizontal and
vertical integration. Horizontal integration is integration of
environmental considerations within sector and across sector.
It can also be between different actors requiring effective and
efficient coordination between all relevant authorities and agencies
of the same policy level (for example, finance and health authorities
as well as environmental authorities). Vertical integration in
the present context means achieving benefits for the environment
through effective and efficient coordination between several different
levels of government (local, regional, national, European or global
There are general principles of integration
and subsequent implementation which should be taken into account
when developing the Community Integration Strategy.
1. The development of sector-specific integration
strategies and action plans including:
defining co-operative mechanisms;
raising awareness and understanding;
developing economic and fiscal initiatives.
The development of appropriate financial incentives
and the strengthening of instruments to encourage integration
and implementation is important. Appropriate mixes of financial
incentives must be designed to reward good environmental practice
(and penalize bad practice). Instruments should be strengthened
to promote communication, establish clear methods and goals for
achieving sustainability and also cross-compliance, for example,
requiring compliance with environmental criteria as a precondition
for the receipt of grants or subsidies.
2. Examination of institutional decision
making arrangements to ensure effective delivery of integration.
3. The establishment of environmental audit
systems within sector policy integration and action, identifying
(and rewarding) best practice.
4. For each sector the clear definition
of indicators and targets which are linked to sustainable development.
Medium-term targets should be set as realistic milestones that
take us towards achieving integration and environmental sustainability.
It is essential that the process of environmental
integration is established at the earliest possible point within
the development of policies, plans and programmes. The scope of
environmental impact assessment should be extended to include
assessing the potential for integration.
Clear assessment methods must be established
analyzing progress towards achieving sectoral integration targeted
at sustainability. For example, these should include a clear qualitative
and quantitative analysis and comparison of environmental advantages
and disadvantages of sectoral integration. Other criteria can
be the adoption of the polluter-pays principle and assessment
of its application and also the design of economic instruments
to avoid adverse environmental effects.
In this process it is important to clearly establish
the responsibilities of all government departments and ministries;
this forms the basis and commitment to design and implement integrated
policies. Strong co-operation is necessary between Ministries
(Finance, Agriculture, Health, Employment and Environment) and
in agriculture between consumers, farmers, environmentalists and
Advisory Councils. It is important, however, to avoid an exclusively
sectoral approach. A dual approach should be taken; one of integration
within sectors and an overarching approach between sectors.
Opportunities for Advisory Councils
The complexity of issues involved presents serious
difficulties in achieving complete integration within and between
sectors, horizontally and vertically. It is essential that Advisory
Councils promote and foster the favourable conditions for integration
Combining advocacy at a national and Europe-wide
level adds significant weight to the discussion of environmental
integration and implementation. Through the provision of expert
advice and guidance Advisory Councils have a central role in facilitating
this process: the successful integration and implementation of
environmental policy in order to move towards a truly sustainable
These general conclusions, together with detailed
conclusions from the agriculture, forestry, tourism and transport
workshops, are located on the European Environmental Advisory
Council web site at http://www.eur-focalpt.org/
The following Councils and organisations participated
in the Sixth Annual Conference of European Environmental Advisory
Austrian Association for Agricultural Research
Belgian National Council for Sustainable Development
Countryside Council for Wales (CCW).
Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries
Danish Nature Council
English Nature (NCCE)
Environmental and Nature Council of Flanders
Estonian Ministry of the Environment
European Centre for Nature Conservation (ECNC)
European Commission DGXI
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Finnish Council for Environment and Natural
Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Finnish Ministry of the Environment (YM)
French Agricultural and Enviromental Engineering
Research Institute (Cemagref)
The German Council of Environmental Advisors
Harvard University Committee on the Environment,
The Heritatge Council of Ireland (SEC)
Hungarian National Council on the Environment
Lithuanian Department of Forests and Protected
The Netherlands Advisory Council for Research
on Nature and Environment (RMNO)
The Netherlands Council for Housing, Spatial
Planning and the Environment (VROM-raad)
The Netherlands Council for the Rural Area (RLG)
Portuguese National Council for the Environment
and Sustainable Development (CNADS)
Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)
Spanish Ministry of the Environment
Swedish Environmental Advisory Council (MVB)