20th EPA Network plenary, Copenhagen

The European Network of the Heads of Environment Protection Agencies (EPA Network) held its 20th plenary meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark on 13-14 May 2013. This marks the 10th anniversary year of the EPA Network.

The meeting was hosted by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and Danish Environment Protection Agency. Over 50 participants representing 29 environmental organisations from across Europe took part in the meeting. The Network was also pleased to welcome Karl Falkenberg, Director General for Environment from the European Commission, to the meeting. 

The meeting was opened by Jacqueline McGlade, the Executive Director of the EEA. The Danish Minister for Trade, Industry and Environment, Ms Pia Olsen Dyhr, welcomed participants and gave an overview of the environmental challenges in Denmark and highlighted the important role of EPAs. Michel Schilling, Vice Director of the Danish EPA, gave an introduction to the Danish EPA and highlighted its major roles and responsibilities.

The EPA Network secretary, Will Fawcett, provided an overview of the work of the Network and actions since the last meeting. These included work with the Interest Groups and development of an EPA Network brochure. The brochure was presented at the meeting and it provides an overview of the Network as well as highlighting recent activities and achievements. The aim for the brochure was that it would be useful for EPAs at a national level and also internationally in highlighting the significant role of informal networks.

The plenary was updated on the progress of the EPA Network Interest Groups. The Interest Group on Sustainable Use of Natural Resources has developed a paper on increasing market transparency with environmental product information which will be finalised and distributed after the meeting. There will be future work on the topic of black carbon and engagement with the European Commission on the proposed framework on environmental inspections. Interest group activities on carbon capture and storage and ecosystems services were also discussed.

In the afternoon session, the plenary was updated on the development of the 7th Environmental Action Programme by Karl Falkenberg, which was followed by a session on stakeholder engagement. Jacquie set the scene, highlighting the use of established (campaigns etc.) and explorative tools (participation, citizen science, social media etc.). The plenary then split into two working groups to discuss two different aspects of stakeholder engagement, citizen science and social media, in more detail.

At the beginning of the second day, rapporteurs provided feedback to the plenary on the lively group discussions. There was a suggestion to circulate a questionnaire to gather information on EPA activities on these topic areas.  

There was an informal exchange with Karl Falkenberg on recent developments and topics of interest to EPAs, for example on the topics of air quality and water pricing. Jacquie gave an overview on a wide range of recent EEA activities. Members were also able to share experiences on national activities, for example the German Energiewende, Danish waste management and the use of infographics in the Netherlands.

The 21st EPA Network plenary meeting will take place in Berlin in September 2013.