Of the over 40 exhibitors and 30 panel discussions present at the EU Green Week 2013, “End Ecocide in Europe“ was the only group representing a citizens’ initiative.
The role of citizens in shaping environmental issues, however, was on many occasions emphasised by conference panelists, who remarked their importance both in terms of behavioural changes and input for policy making.
The Green Week, which took place on June 4-7 this year, is an annual event organised by the European Commission in Brussels. The main focus of the 2013 edition has been on air pollution.
“End Ecocide in Europe” is a European Citizens’ Initiative aimed to achieve the recognition of ecocide as a crime. Ecocide is defined as the extensive damage, destruction or loss of ecosystems. The main vision behind the initiative is that those responsible for crimes of ecocide should be held personally accountable. If one million Europeans will vote for the group’s proposal, it will have to be considered at EU level. “End Ecocide in Europe” discussed its initiative with many of the stakeholders present and collected votes for its proposal.
The lack of civil society was particularly disappointing in the light of the fact that 2013 has been named the European Year of Citizens. Ironically, Green Week participants witnessed the launch of the European Citizens’ Science Association, which aspires to the involvement of 5 million Europeans in projects related to citizens’ science over the next 4 years.
Prisca Merz, director of “End Ecocide in Europe”, said:
“End Ecocide in Europe fully agrees with the words of EU Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potocnik: ‘we all have a right to clean air’. However, clean air is just part of the whole picture: it is high time for the right to a healthy environment to be acknowledged. By recognising ecocide as a crime we are making a huge step forward in this direction. To support a law which has the power to change the future of our ecosystems, vote on www.endecocide.eu
On the occasion of the Green Week, a research group for “End Ecocide Europe“, composed by Ruth Houghton, Tena Prelec and Amelia Womack, compiled a thematic paper on air pollution, making the case for a stronger European legislation. The paper argues that EU regulations do not currently provide legal instruments strong enough to ensure compliance among member states and that the area of liability for environmental damage is in need of review and improvement. The article can be downloaded here.
Kadri Kalle, communications manager of “End Ecocide in Europe”