On the 1st July 2016, the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) hosted a European Seminar on “Changing our Mindsets – Seizing Opportunities in the Green Economy” in Brussels. The event brought together managing authorities and regional organizations, NGOs, Local Action Groups as well as agriculture advisory services and research institutes.
In 2010, the United Nations Environment Programme defined Green economy as an “economy that results in improved well-being and reduced inequalities over the long term, while not exposing future generations to significant environmental risks and ecological scarcities”. In relation to rural development, green economy can help improve resource efficiency (i.e. water, soil, nutrients), build a low carbon economy and increase emphasis on the circular economy.
Green projects that support green economy can be implemented with the support of the Rural Development Programmes (RDP). Indeed, the policies and targets might be difficult to interpret at first so the RDPs can be useful mechanisms for the rural stakeholders to start the transition. Thus, relevant RDP measures are for instance farm and business development (M6), investment in forestry areas (M8.6), producers’ organizations (M9), organic farming (M11), LEADER initiatives (M19), etc. Other policies are linked to the matter of green economy like climate and energy policies, forestry, jobs and growth, waste management, circular economy, food, wider environment including water, biodiversity, etc.
During the seminar, a few green projects were presented such as a dairy farm with processing department and renewable energy production unit in Romania, a combination of aquaponics and tomatoes in Belgium, or the Palopuro agroecological symbiosis project in Finland, so as to put forward further RDP tools needed to promote green economy. These were identified as more links and communication between actors, knowledge transfer, animation, packages of measures, supporting local initiatives, capacity building, and so forth.
The Green Economy agenda is an important one that has not yet been well advertised. It needs to use the momentum built up after the Paris agreements to face its difficult economic constraints. Public money must be used wisely, in a flexible manner, to enhance local initiatives and innovation. A strategy will be built on the long term which is why we will now need targets and adapted tools to build a more efficient economy with low environmental impact.
For more information and the presentations of the event: please visit https://enrd.ec.europa.eu/en/en-rd-events-and-meetings/ENRD-Green-Economy-Seminar-20160701
6 July 2016