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European Environment Initiative (EURENI)

Funding Call
Two young people in front of a mountain panorama hold an EU flag

Zero Pollution Action Plan – tackling agricultural pollution in water, air and soil

Grantee

European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

Project partners

Umanotera

France Nature Environment (FNE)

Duration

completed

2021-08-13 till 2022-12-31

Location

EU level/Brussels

Funding Amount

241,000.00 €

Project Background

The European Commission published the EU Action Plan, ‘Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil’ in May 2021. This strategy outlines the steps necessary to achieve zero pollution by 2050.

Environmental pollution is a serious threat to the planet’s biodiversity and is considered to be one of the five primary causes of biodiversity loss. Environmental pollutants also affect human health in many ways, increasing the likelihood of lung and cardiovascular disease, for example, as well as cancer, dementia and allergies. Accordingly, environmental pollution is a leading cause of premature death both in Europe and the rest of the world.

Achieving a pollution-free environment is a key deliverable of the European Green Deal. The aim is to reduce pollution in air, soil and water to a level that is no longer considered harmful to human health or to natural ecosystems. Another important goal is closing any implementation gaps that are present in existing environmental legislation.

Environmental pollution is caused by a number of factors, with the agricultural sector being particularly relevant here. That the crop protection products used in high-intensity agriculture seriously threaten animal and plant species diversity is widely known. However, these products are also major polluters of our groundwater and surface waters. Fertilisers are another key source of freshwater contaminants. Furthermore, livestock farming is responsible for the majority of methane and ammonia emissions in the EU, and is therefore a significant air pollutant throughout Europe. For these reasons, the project is focusing in particular on agriculture.

Project goals and measures

The project is primarily targeting decision makers at EU level. The aim is to raise awareness among these stakeholders about the nexus of issues involving agriculture and the pollution of air, soil and water and encourage the adoption of more ambitious zero pollution strategies. The project is also supporting civil society actors with the aim of strengthening their demands for the implementation of the action plan.

The project is taking an integrated, 360° approach to achieving its aims: accordingly, actors and experts in the various policy areas – such as food, agriculture, transport and energy – are being brought together to engage in effective dialogue. The aim is to strengthen and promote their cooperation to maximise the use of synergy effects. Past experience has shown that an isolated, silo-like approach to ideas and strategies is likely to remain largely inefficient.

For this reason, the measures the project intends to take to achieve its goals largely consist of public relations work, organising working groups and publishing working papers. Here, the European Environment Bureau (EEB) is working with partner organisations in France, Slovenia and Sweden, and is also cooperating with non-governmental organisations throughout Europe.