As 2021 opens doors to a green and sustainable recovery, governments are taking steps forward launching packages designed to revive their societies and economies, with the European Union taking some of the most notable measures in this regard with the European Green Deal.

On 26 March 2021 the 7th Meeting of the Commission for the Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE) of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) was convened, which included two debates on green recovery and climate action respectively.

Regions4, ICLEI and Jacques Delors Institute were invited as guest speakers to the debate on the green recovery and the importance of the interlinkages with climate action and investment in nature to build back better.   

Regions4 Presidency was represented by Ms. Amaia Barredo, Vice Minister for Environment of the Basque Country, who shared our Network’s perspective regarding the European crisis recovery policy and the Green Deal.

During her intervention, Ms. Barredo affirmed that the recovery plans have become one of the most relevant tools to face the current crisis, however, it is necessary to integrate the “one health” approach and the interlinkages between people, nature, and economy. She emphasized that while we recover from the health, economic and social crisis, we must not forget the environmental one, and that the solutions which include climate adaptation and biodiversity conservation apply to them all.

The Regions4 constituency launched the Declaration for a just, inclusive, and resilient recovery in 2020, and our organisation has been a key partner of the Edinburgh Process and Edinburgh Declaration, which gathers the aspirations of local and regional governments and their role in the new post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

Ms Barredo reminded ENVE Members that Regions4’s community is already proving that it is possible to walk towards a green recovery based on nature conservation and climate action. Regions4 members in Europe are delivering clear actions in this regard:

  • Lombardy is implementing the initiative GESTIRE 2020, investing in nature conservation and promoting an integral strategy for the conservation of the Red Natura 2000 while enhancing sustainable farming & productivity as a key element to halt the current biodiversity and health crises.
  • Aland Islands has created its own Development and Sustainability Agenda, an award-winning plan to make the region totally sustainable by 2051, by focusing on protecting nature, people, and prosperity from a whole-of-society approach, and strengthening their capacity to respond to future hazards.
  • Basque Country is currently implementing the largest climate action project in the region. URBAN KLIMA 2050 gathers a coalition of over 20 public and private stakeholders to implement 40 specific mitigation and adaptation actions in coastal, river basins and urban areas, investing EUR 19.8 million and impacting over 2 million citizens, contributing to build the resilience in the region regarding climate shocks.
    Likewise, the region is developing the Basque Green Deal, working on sustainable economic growth based on the interlinkages between the industry, economy, technology, energy, and climate adaptation, for a just and inclusive transition and recovery.  

Regions4 reminded that local and regional action is key to achieve the European green recovery and therefore, must have a central place in the long-term budget of the European Union. To deliver the Green Deal all levels of government must share the same objectives and have access to the same level of resources.

Regions4 praised the initiative Green Deal Going Local led by the ENVE Commission and the CoR, which will guarantee that the Europeans sustainable growth strategy and the COVID-19 recovery plans translate into tangible actions implemented in the territories with people and nature at the core.

As part of the partnership between CoR and Regions4, our organisation offered its support to the Green Deal Going Local initiative, and proposed to amplify its impact by the collaboration opportunities offered by Regions4’s flagship initiatives:

  • RegionsAdapt, the first global initiative to enhance the acceleration of climate adaptation by subnational governments, supporting regions to take concrete actions, collaborate and report on progress.
  • Regions4 Biodiversity Learning Platform, an initiative endorsed by the CBD to support subnational efforts in the conservation and protection of biodiversity, the promotion of healthy ecosystems and sustainable livelihoods for their citizens.
  • Community of Practice – Regions4SDGs, a platform to support subnational governments in their effective implementation of the SDGs, boosting greater ambition within the UN Decade of Action to deliver the Global Goals.  

Regions4 continues to work in commitment to a sustainable and inclusive recovery model where regional leadership plays a central role. We invite all governments to join our actions, including the endorsement to the Edinburgh Declaration to reinforce the role of subnationals within thepost-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which will become a crucial ally of the European Green Deal.