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ESDN Quarterly Report March 2014

The 7th Environment Action Programme:

Reflections on sustainable development and environmental policy integration

by Andreas Endl & Gerald Berger

The main aim of this ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) is to investigate the recently adopted 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP) of the European Union, which is the European Union’s main strategy for environmental policy and, in particular, environmental policy integration. In this respect, the 7th EAP builds on existing policy initiatives, such as the Europe 2020 Strategy and the renewed European Sustainable Development Strategy, and aims to tackle environmental challenges which should help achieve long-term sustainable development goals. To this context, this QR provides an analysis to investigate the 7th EAP with respect to the concepts of sustainable development and environmental policy integration.

In the first chapter, in order to better understand the logic of environmental policy and how it is linked to sustainable development policy, the QR explores the underlying concept of natural resource and environmental management (NREM) and its relation to the concept of sustainable development. The second chapter provides an overview of the most pressing environmental challenges Europe is facing by drawing on environmental monitoring data, and follow up of objectives, targets and policy implementation. The indication for urgent action of environmental impacts informed the assessment of the previous 6th EAP and, furthermore, mirrored with new aspects taken up in the recent 7th EAP. This third part of the QR is dedicated to the analysis of the 7th EAP, undertaking by applying three lenses: a conceptual and thematic one with regard to natural resource and environmental management; a she second lens refers to the way environmental policy integration has been approached in the 7th EAP; in addition, we highlighted what is the added-value when applying a sustainable development (SD) perspective. In the concluding forth chapter, we shed light on 7th EAP’s contribution to sustainable development and where critical ambiguities with respect to environmental policy integration and sustainable development exist.

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