The physical environment of European citizen's life...
Around 80% of the European Union´s population lives in cities and towns. Urban areas are therefore the places where environmental problems most affect the quality of life of Europe´s citizens. Urban areas also create environmental problems in their own right due to the high density of activities that take place there.
The physical environment of European citizen´s life and its management is the subject covered in this section called "land use and building". The idea is to look at the built environment we live in from the management of land use, urban planning, and development of neighbourhoods to the operation of a single building. This approach is coherent with a challenge that needs a sustainable and integrated approach to work in harmony with natural system.
"… people are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature…" (Rio declaration)
A particular focus on the decision-making process
Sustainable land use, urban planning and building have to invest the decision-making process a strategic point. In fact, in these matters long-term objectives are always on debate, even if not directly. The traditional approach has to be changed to a more integrated one that efficiently involve all the stakeholders and overcome boundaries of technical and experts´ fields of experiences. An adapted integrated approach is needed to prevent conflicts, to optimize the process and enable mediation at early stages.
Involvement of population, efficiency of the decision, assessment of future impacts, communication and information are some of the key-points to be well thought-out.
For more information about the Aarhus Convention: http://www.unece.org/env/pp/
On 11 January 2004, the Commission adopted Communication COM(2004)60 "Towards a Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment".
Communication starts with the premise that the knowledge and techniques needed to bring about significant improvements in environmental performance in urban areas are already known. Whilst there are some gaps in knowledge, the focus of the Strategy should be on achieving clear changes in urban areas rather than calling for further consideration of the issues.
The Communication proposes that the objective of the Thematic Strategy should be to improve the environmental performance and quality of urban areas and to secure a healthy living environment for Europe's urban citizens.
The Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment is one of the 7 Strategies outlined in the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme. These Strategies are a new way of developing environmental policy for complex priority problems that require a broad approach and support action at local level.
For more information about "Sixth Community Environment Action Programme":
In addition to these programmes a number of practical approaches, methods and tools have been standardized to analyse the impact of proposed developments.
• The Directive on Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) concerns projects
The combination of these 2 directives should enable sustainable objectives to be taken into consideration at the planning stage (SEA for plans and programs) but also if a project is developed (EIA for project).
For more information about "The EIA and SEA directives":