The Slovenia Times

Commissioner Janez Potočnik: "It is better to prevent than heal, and also cheaper"



Potočnik enumerated several major problems, such as climate change, loss of biotic diversity, degradation of ecosystems, lack and pollution of water, oceans, of air and of the soil.

"A common denominator of all these processes is to be found in the influence of humans, in growing global population figures and growing consumption," the commissioner said.

He noted that within one generation, in the coming 30 years, the world population will increase by 2bn, which is more than was the entire population at the start of the previous century (1.5bn).

"Copying the pattern of production and consumption that is part of our reality in the developed part of the wrold onto the entire world is simply impossible," Potočnik said, adding a transition to circular economy where resources will be used and reused responsibly is unavoidable.

"And it is nature that can teach us the most. Nature is the largest and most complex circular economy...We are part of this nature and need to learn to live in harmony with it."

Potočnik warned against a type of concern for the environment that ignores the fact that economic activities provide for a great number of our needs and for a higher quality of life, but also against a type of economic progress that will ignore the limits of our planet.

The only way to avoid this conflict "is to integrate the concern for the environment into other policies as much as possible...It is better to prevent than heal, and also cheaper".

He said that a lot has already been done or is being prepared at the level of the EU, with sustainable use of resources for instance becoming one of the main guidelines in the 2020 development strategy.

According to Potočnik, even businesses themselves are "becoming increasingly aware that the responsible use of resources makes sense also in entirely economic terms".

As regards the global level, the commissioner pointed to last year's UN Rio+20 conference, where a commitment was made by world leaders to encourage green economy to secure a transition to sustainable development. He however hinted that words need to be followed with actions now.


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