Pan-European assessment asks: ‘What do we know about water and green economy?’

The Ministerial Conference will bring together delegates from 53 countries across the pan-European region as well as delegates from the United States, Canada and Israel. The conference focuses on the challenges in protecting water and related ecosystems, and on how to move towards a green economy. It is organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in cooperation with the Government of Kazakhstan.

To support the Conference, the EEA was asked to produce a report entitled ‘Europe’s Environment – An Assessment of Assessments’. This report provides a comprehensive overview of available sources of environmental information across the region which directly relate to the focus of the Conference. This report, which was produced with the support of the UNECE Steering Group on Environmental Assessments, is complemented by a series of regional reports that focus on specific pan-European sub-regions.

The Assessment of Assessments focuses on the themes of water and water-related ecosystems, and greening the economy. It concludes by making a number of recommendations on how to enhance the knowledge base that underpins decision-making processes, improve assessment tools, and ensure greater information exchange across the pan-European region and at a global level.

Sustainable management of water and water-related ecosystems is extremely important across the pan-European region. Drought has increased in recent years across Southern Europe and Central Asia, while flooding is causing increasing deaths and economic damage. Clean water is also a problem, as an estimated 120 million people across the region live without access to safe drinking water or sanitation.

The ‘green economy’ is still an emerging concept. At its core is the idea of revitalising economies as they emerge from the recent economic crisis while significantly reducing environmental risks and addressing ecological scarcities. Globally, greening the economy is at the heart of renewed efforts to integrate environmental and social considerations with mainstream economic decision-making, up to and beyond the Rio 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

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