Interview with Andrej Vizjak, Slovenian Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning
What are the main priorities of the Slovenian Presidency and what is the role of water in realising them?
The main priorities of Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU (PSEU) are the reinforcement of the EU immunity, the increase of EU strategical autonomy and encouragement of green and digital transition with and for the new generation. Therefore, water, as the main life source, is at the centre of pursuance of the mentioned priorities.
The European Union is committed to achieving the new climate target by 2030. What are the actions and measures you consider necessary for reaching this goal?
The EU Climate Law is an important milestone towards the new 2030 climate target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55%. To reach it, it is important to take immediate action. We should strive for an ambitious, but also fair and realistic agreement if we want to maintain climate neutrality by 2050 as an achievable goal. This also means that all the EU Member States at all levels, systems and sub-systems must commit to implementing policies, measures and activities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors. Furthermore, we must not forget to create a climate-resilient society that also takes into account the most vulnerable households.
The slogan of the Slovenian Presidency is “Together. Resilient. Europe.” How can the role of water be recognised as a key enabler for strengthening the resilience of the EU and facilitating its transition to a strong post-COVID Europe?
The slogan, PSEU “Together. Immunity. Europe”, offers a strong basis to increase cooperation of responsible management of water, coastal and sea sources on local, governmental, cross-border, regional and EU level. The health of the population is strongly connected with the quality of water supply, food production, recreation and tourism. Due to the changes in the dynamics of the water circle, the areas where the lives of the people are threatened by the water, are expanding. The governments and European Commission are addressed to strengthen the dialogues on local and cross-border levels for the implementation of the adjusting measures, coordinated on the cross-border levels, to strengthen the immunity of EU and support the transmission into strong “Post Covid EU”. Therefore, the “bottom-up and top-down approach” for the preparation and pursuance of RBMP, ICZM and MSP must be strengthened.
A paradigm shift towards a Water-Smart society, where the true value of water is recognised and realised is a must to ensure a lasting recovery of the EU. Which ones do you consider as the strongest tools and instruments of the EU in its effort to achieve this goal?
We are aware that the shift to the paradigm “Pametna družba za ravnanje z vodo/Water Smart Society” to help the European recuperation means that the value of water must be recognized and considered. Water is an ecosystem, a cross-border source and medium, which has to be considered by the new tools and instruments. For the preparation of plans (RBPMP/ICZM/MSP) of the new generation and to provide a fair and effective solution, water cycle, water balance and ecosystem services have to be considered. This kind of approach offers a great opportunity to integrate the young population (digitalisation) and with the activation of “the bottom up” approach cooperation, noticeably increases the pursuance of the adjusting measures on a local scale and creates new job opportunities.