The European Commission has launched a new Thematic Strategy on the
Urban Environment to help Member States and regional and local
authorities improve the environmental performance of Europe's cities. The
Strategy is one of seven foreseen under the 6th Environmental Action
Programme. Its goal is to facilitate better implementation of EU
environmental policies and legislation at the local level through exchange
of experience and good practice between Europe's local authorities. Four o
ut of five European citizens now live in towns and cities and their quality of
life is directly influenced by the state of the urban environment.
The strategy's approach
Europe's urban areas face a number of environmental challenges including
poor air quality, high levels of traffic and congestion, urban sprawl,
greenhouse gas emissions and generation of waste and waste water.
These can cause environmental damage and affect human health.
Local authorities have a decisive role to play in implementing
environmental legislation and improving the environmental performance of a
city. The best performing cities have developed integrated approaches to
urban management where daily decisions are guided by a strategic vision
and objectives. These can improve quality of life and the city's economic
performance, which in turn can attract new residents and businesses.
While local action is essential, public authorities at regional, national and
European level also need to be proactive. The EU can provide support by
promoting Europe's good practices. It can do so best by encouraging
effective networking and exchange of experience between cities. Many
solutions already exist in cities but they are not sufficiently disseminated
The Commission has coordinated the objectives of the Strategy with other
Community programmes and proposes support for investments, research
and demonstration projects on key urban environment issues such as
investment in urban transport and reuse of derelict land, or training in
urban management. Member States should exploit the opportunities
offered at the European level to make improvements in the environmental
performance of their cities.
The main actions under the strategy are:
•Guidance on integrated environmental management and on
sustainable urban transport plans. The guidance will be based on
cities' experiences, expert views and research, and will help ensure
full implementation of EU legislation. It will provide sources of further
information to help prepare and implement action plans.
•Training. A number of Community programmes will provide
opportunities for training and capacity-building for local authorities to
develop the skills needed for managing the urban environment.
Moreover, support will be offered for local authorities to work together
and learn from each other. These should be exploited both by the
Member States and local authorities.
•Support for EU wide exchange of best practices. Consideration will
be given for the establishment of a new European programme to
exchange knowledge and experience on urban issues under the new
Cohesion Policy. The Commission will closely cooperate with
Member States and local authorities. This work will be based on a
pilot network of focal points on urban issues (the 'European
Knowledge Platform') which offers advice to local authorities across
•Commission internet portal for local authorities. The feasibility of
creating a new internet portal for local authorities on the Europa
website will be explored to provide better access to the latest
Thematic Strategies are based on extensive research and consultation of
stakeholders, address issues in a holistic way that links with other
problems and policy areas, and promote Better Regulation. The other six
Copies of the Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment are available
Taken from Resource Recovery Forum News http://www.resourcesnotwaste.org/