37th EPA Network plenary, Paris

Diane Simiu, Deputy to the General Commissioner for Sustainable Development in the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Arnaud Leroy, Chief Executive Officer of ADEME, welcomed participants to the 37th plenary of the Heads of European Environmental Protection Agencies’ Network (EPA Network), the first physical meeting since September 2018. Ca. 50 participants representing around 25 European countries were gathered in Paris.

Paris EPA Network plenary May 2022

Luc Bas, Head of Coordination, Networks and Strategy at the European Environment Agency, introduced session 2 on Consequences on EPA areas from the War in Ukraine. Jérôme Brouillet, Deputy Secretary General for European Affairs, presented possible impacts from the war on the European Green Deal. Miroslav Havranek, Director at CENIA, shared reflections seen from the perspective of Czechia, a close neighbor to Ukraine. Dirk Messner, President of the German Environment Agency, presented the agency’s work in reaction to the war and the planned acceleration of the German “Energiewende”. Heads of EPAs had a plenary exchange, agreeing to follow-up and address the issue in future meetings.

Diane Simiu introduced session 3, an update on European Policies, where Patrick Child, Deputy Director-General of DG Environment, gave a presentation to Heads of EPAs on the priorities and the latest developments in DG ENV. Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency, gave an update on the agency’s latest activities, including the EEA’s strategic priority areas for the coming period. Heads of EPAs had an exchange with the EEA and DG ENV, discussing issues of common concern.

Hans Bruyninckx introduced session 4 on Just Transition and EPAs. Valérie Quiniou, Executive Director for Prospective & Research at ADEME, presented ADEME’s work on Just Transition in France, followed by a discussion among Heads of EPAs. There was agreement to bundle the work European EPAs are doing on the issue to support the knowledge base on Just Transition.   

Miroslav Havranek introduced session 5 on Network activities and priorities, where Heads of EPAs took stock of the latest activities in the network, including the European Platform for Actionable Knowledge and Solutions for Sustainable Development (EPAS) established by EPAs, and initiatives on Zero Pollution, Green and Circular Economy, Citizen Science and Environment and Tourism.

On day 2 of the meeting, Arnaud Leroy introduced session 6 on Sustainable Carbon Removal Solutions. Dr Jonathan Derham, Head of the Evidence & Assessment Programme at the Irish EPA, presented to Heads of EPAs the projects of rehabilitating and restoring peatlands in Ireland. Ellen Hambro, Director of the Norwegian Environment Agency, gave a presentation on Industrial Carbon Removals in Norway, and Diane Simiu presented the issue of Imported Deforestation. Heads of EPAs discussed in plenary, agreeing to continue discussions on the issue through the EPA Network Interest group on Carbon Capture and Storage.

In session 7 on the emerging issue of Hydrogen, chaired by Dirk Messner, Bart Biebuyck, Executive Director of the Clean Hydrogen joint undertaking and Valérie Bouillon-Delporte, Hydrogen Ecosystem Director at Michelin presented their perspectives on opportunities and challenges from hydrogen, followed by a plenary discussion.

In the closing session, Arnaud Leroy and Mari Erlandsen, EPA Network Secretariat, summarised the meeting. The EPA Network will convene for their 38th plenary in October 2022 in Romania.