How to achieve sustainability and equity between the people, regions, countries and generations of Europe in a post-COVID-19 era
The current health crisis has opened up a new understanding of the interrelation between humans, wildlife and our shared ecosystems and the meaning of well-being and healthy living. Consequently, a coherent and cohesive Green Deal that incorporates the social, environmental and economic aspects should be a central element of any recovery programme.
Moreover, the European Green Deal can help create new, quality jobs in sustainable sectors in a context of rising unemployment. However, for social benefits to materialise, the Green Deal must be designed and implemented by putting fairness and equity at its very core. This is the main added value of this report.
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is still unfolding, the relevance of the European Green Deal and its potential role in recovery plans is being heavily debated. While some have argued that it needs to be delayed or abandoned altogether, we argue in this paper that the Green Deal becomes an even more essential policy in the new context of recovery from the recession and provides an unintended opportunity not to return to the past and instead “build back better”. Conversely, the paper warns against an unsustainable recovery pathway which would waste precious public funds on shoring up the fossil fuel economy and lock Europe’s youth and future generations into destructive high-carbon and unsustainable pathways.
In order to avoid unnecessary trade-offs between the recovery of economies, societies and ecosystems, operationalising the principle of “leaving no one behind” is paramount. This requires addressing the intra-EU, intra-country and intergenerational equity challenges that lie at the heart of the multiple crises.
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