28th EPA Network plenary, Rome

The European Network of the Heads of Environment Protection Agencies (EPA Network) held its 28th plenary meeting in Rome, Italy, on 6-7 April 2017.

The meeting was hosted by the Italian Instituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA). About 70 participants representing around 30 environmental organisations from across Europe took part in the meeting. The Network was particularly pleased to welcome Daniel Calleja-Crespo, Director General of DG Environment in the European Commission, and Mr. Janez Potočnik, Co-Chair of the International Resource Panel and former EU Commissioner for Environment to the meeting.

The meeting was opened by Stefano Laporta, Director General of ISPRA. The Italian Minister of the Environment, Land and Sea, Gianluca Galletti, welcomed participants and stressed the role of environmental protection agencies in implementing the environmental policies of the future. The session concluded with a presentation of the state of environment and environmental challenges in Italy.

In session 2, Daniel Calleja Crespo (European Commission) and Hans Bruyninckx (EEA) updated the plenary on the current development in EU environmental policy and the ongoing and planned work of the Commission and the EEA. Activities of interest for the EPA Network are, among others, the results of the Commission’s Environmental Implementation Review and of the Fitness check of EU environmental monitoring and reporting and the ongoing evaluation of the EEA and its country network Eionet.

The main topic of the meeting was the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Janez Potočnik kicked-off session 3 by giving a key note address on implementing SDGs at the global level from a resource efficiency perspective. Daniel Calleja Crespo followed with presenting the implications of the SDGs for EU environmental policy. Finally, Environmental Protection Agencies (EPAs) provided examples of how they implement the SDGs (or certain aspects of them) at the national level.

In Session 4, the focus shifted from implementation to monitoring and reporting of progress towards achieving the SDGs. Participants concluded that EPAs play a role in implementing and monitoring progress towards SDGs by providing robust data and strong narratives and by cooperating with their national statistical office. In addition, EPAs may support the implementation of the SDGs by raising awareness of the importance of the SDGs, pointing out implementation gaps to policy makers and supporting companies to become more sustainable.

The 2nd day of the meeting started with a session on the activities of the EPA Network since its last plenary meeting and on cooperation with other networks. The Chair of IMPEL, Chris Dijkens, presented IMPEL’s work programme for 2017 and IMPEL and the EPA Network confirmed their continued interest to cooperate. Then, the EPA Network was updated on the work performed by the Interest Groups on Better Regulation, on Climate Change and Adaptation, on Green and Circular Economy, on Noise Abatement and on Plastics since the last plenary meeting. Last, but not least, the Portuguese Environmental Protection Agency presented the results of a survey on EPAs’ use of integrated regulatory instruments for issuing licences to installations.

In the closing session, EPAs presented new and emerging issues. ISPRA presented the impact of air pollution on cultural heritage and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) updated the group on their work related to new technologies and data fusion for effective environmental monitoring. Finally, the main conclusion and action points of the meeting were summarized. The next EPA Network plenary meeting will take place on 25-26 September 2017 in Stockholm.