With industrial development on the rise, it may seem that the environment will suffer as a result. However, the European Union has made it its mission to avoid this through implementation of regional policies that are both economically beneficial and sustainable.
Sustainability in Cities
In September of 2017, the European Union began a new project aimed at improving sustainability in the building sector. The project, called “Level(s)”, will focus on making buildings more sustainable through monitoring greenhouse emissions and consumption of resources such as energy and water. Building materials will also be analyzed. Level(s) is designed as a common framework that can be used to evaluate buildings throughout Europe to determine if they are up to standard. The project will remain in pilot phase until 2019.
The European Union has recently proposed initiatives with the goal of adapting to modern globalization, increasing competitive edge, and building strong economies. Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Cretu described 5 steps in this process: innovation, digitalization, sustainability, skill development, and removing investment barriers. One specific strategy is the creation of regional teams that will help each region with economic transition, with funding from the European Regional Development Fund. Another goal is the establishment and trans-regional and trans-national industries that will improve the European Union economy as a whole.
Protecting Marine Environments
Another recent focus of regional policy is the protection of marine environments. Current issues include natural disasters, maritime security hazards, pollution, climate change, and illegal fishing, The European Union has decided to adopt 36 new policies that will address these issues. Among the new policies are investments in satellite monitoring, new regulations for waste generated by ships, plans for reducing carbon emissions in the Artic, and funding for marine research.
The European Union recognizes the incredible economic potential of ocean industries. This focus has been termed the “Blue Economy” and is the subject of many recent policies. Current economic opportunities include job growth, renewable energy (wind turbines), aquaculture seafood production, costal tourism, and biotechnology (pharmaceuticals, food, cosmetics). Supporters of the Blue Economy continue to look for government aid with financing and research for this important industry.
Through combining industry with sustainability, and taking a multi-faceted approach including both urban and marine environments, the European Union is looking toward regional economic growth. Future regional policies will continue to build on this foundation.
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