4th EPA Network plenary meeting, Ljublana

The Network of Heads of European Environment Protection Agencies held its 4th meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on 10 - 11 March 2005. There were representatives from agencies from 23 countries, as well as from the European Commission and the European Environment Agency. The Environmental Protection Agency of the United States was also invited to take part in the meeting. The meeting was hosted by the Environment Protection Agency of the Republic of Slovenia, who provided an overview of both the work of the Agency and the state of the environment of Slovenia at the start of the meeting.

In the first session, the network discussed the Environment Sustainability Index 2005 Report with a brief introduction by EEA and two main contributions from Slovenia and Austria. A background paper 'What do standards have to do with Sustainability?’ was provided by EEA. Participants expressed concerns on the quality of data, methodology and indicators that are used for the ranking of the countries, recognising, however, the value of benchmarking for the prioritising of resources and sensitising.

The second session covered the area of Environment and Health. The EEA gave an overview of the work of the European Environment and Health committee steered by WHO and its activities towards implementing the Budapest declaration. The European Commission gave an overview of the Environment and Health Action Plan. Finally, the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States shared their experiences in the fields of air quality and presented case studies both in the field of collection of data on ozone and exposure.

The following session covered the progress of work of the five interest groups. The interest group on agriculture agreed to continue its work. The interest group on better regulation will continue and include a dimension of public participation into the work. The interest group on sustainable use of natural resources will continue looking into the upcoming Thematic Strategy on the issue. A meeting will be held in Berlin in May. The work of the interest group on Climate change and adaptation will continue and meet during summer to prepare a discussion on post 2012 strategies. The interest group on Performance evaluation and best practice took stock of the experiences gained through the results that have been achieved until now and encouraged all members of the network to continue sharing experiences of best practices within the other interest groups.

On the second day the network shared experiences on issues relating to the Aarhus convention. A background paper was prepared by EEA and a presentation was given by Italy on User requirements for Earth Observation. It was agreed that interested EPAs would reply to a questionnaire covering aspects of GEO and GMES developed by Italy. Slovenia presented their country’s view. It was agreed to come back to further discussions on aspects of implementation of the Aarhus convention.