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Report on the EHAP Consultative Forum

On December 3rd 2009, the European Commission organised the annual Consultative Forum on the Environment and Health Action Plan. WECF participated with Sascha Gabizon, Demi Theodori and Anne Corinne Zimmer.

02.01.2010 |Sascha Gabizon

On December 3rd 2009, the European Commission organised the annual Consultative Forum on the Environment and Health Action Plan. WECF participated with Sascha Gabizon, Demi Theodori and Anne Corinne Zimmer.
The meeting discussed the draft Progress Report, see the download here, on the current EU Action Plan on Environment and Health (EHAP) 2004-2010, which is currently going through interservice consultation and should be adopted by the new Commission in the coming months. The EHAP comes to an end by the end of the year 2010, and the meeting therefore also identified priorities for a second action plan. The current troika of EU  presidencies (Spain, Belgium, Hungary) have made this a priority. 
Many of the advocacy priorities presented by WECF and also by HEAL (Health & Environment Alliance) were overwhelmingly supported by member states (biomonitoring, indoor air quality, climate change and the need of better and quicker translation of science to policy), and the need to link to the wider WHO process. Some of the single issues that we have called for more action on endocrine disrupters, electromagnetic fields and the cost of inaction -- were also mentioned by many member states and appear in the minutes.
WHO pointed out that a specific reference on the need to continue working on vulnerable groups such as children, or inequalities in environmental health, was missing. The official minutes from the meeting are available on the DG Environment website, and a summary is presented below. It is anticipated that Council Conclusions will be adopted during the Belgian EU Presidency in the second half of the year.
WECF will involve its members in providing input for priorities and processes for the 2nd EHAP in the coming months: 

Report by the European Commission

The Progress Report was strongly welcomed by the Consultative Forum. The participants expressed their positive surprise about the amount of Commission's activities related to Environment & Health carried out since 2004 and asked the Commission to communicate better about its activities. The suggestion was made to the Commission to produce a regular newsletter for disseminating information on Environment & Health issues. Some Member States insisted that the Progress Report should highlight the added value that the EU Action Plan for Environment & Health brought to the Member States, notably in being a major driver for the development of some national Environment & Health Action Plans. Integration was also identified as a major potential benefit to be obtained from the E&H Action Plan, but so far insufficiently realized.
The discussion on the priorities for the next Action Plan identified climate change & health, indoor air quality and human bio-monitoring as clear priorities. Furthermore, several participants stressed that the science-policy interface in Environment & Health should be improved and that specific efforts should be made to facilitate the transfer of research results to policy making.
Numerous calls were also made in support of the following priorities:

Environment & Health Information System, in order to be able to quantify the environmental burden of disease; this also makes work on indicators a priority;the need to provide more data and evidence, making a priority of:
  • the need to estimate the cost of in-action;
  • the need to continue integration and to develop integrated assessment tools;
  • the need to address single issues such as endocrine disrupters, antimicrobial resistance, electromagnetic fields.
 WHO pointed out that the issue of Environment & Health inequalities which will be prominent in the Parma Conference is completely missing. It also expressed the wish to ensure more convergence between the WHO and the EU processes. Several Member States also said that the current Action Plan was prevented from achieving much more by the lack of dedicated human and financial resources. They said that a stronger political commitment was absolutely necessary in the future.

Some small Member States asked for more attention to be given to networking as a means to exchange information on Environment & Health and to provide access to valuable expertise. A number of stakeholders also insisted on the need to provide more data and evidence.

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