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European Commission


Brussels, 5 June 2014

Statement by Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik on the World Environment Day

Today is World Environment Day. Time to celebrate the joys the nature of our beautiful planet gives us, but also time to reflect about what's happening to it.

We cannot ignore what is happening on our planet: The global population will rise to more than nine billion by the middle of the century. Every day there are 200.000 more of us on Planet Earth. With all the additional food, water, fuel, land and infrastructure needs that come with it.

But it’s not just extra people – we are consuming more per person too. By 2050 the demand for food, feed and fibre will rise by 70 per cent. Yet already more than half of the ecosystems these resources depend on are degraded, or used beyond their natural limits.

It is clear that instead of viewing our environment either as a limitless source of materials, or as an external challenge to be dealt with separately, we must learn to work with it.

We are part of nature, the most complex circular economy based on millions of years of experiences and adaptation. We should learn from it.  Nature can teach us about sustainability of our economies. In fact, our economies depend on the environment; they are two sides of the same coin.

Let's take today to re-think the way we produce and consume and create a new 'environmentalism', based on two things: Firstly, we need to get more value out of each ton of materials, each joule of energy, each hectare of land and each cubic meter of water. But the second thing we must do is re-use, update, repair and recycle. We need to move from a linear economic model, where we extract, produce, use and throw away, to a circular economy model, where waste from one stream becomes the raw materials for another.

I wish you a Happy World Environment Day 2014.  Let's celebrate our beautiful planet and let's work together towards a sustainable future, so that also our future generations can continue to live well, within the limits of our planet.

Contacts for the press:

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Andreja Skerl (+32 2 295 14 45)

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