NGOs offer to help gov’t with environment

As Greece’s adoption of the European Union presidency draws ever closer, national environmental groups and agencies have offered their support to the government – and specifically to the Environment and Public Works Ministry. Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund have embarked on a joint initiative – along with another six environmental groups – to draft proposals outlining a general framework for Greece’s environmental agenda during its EU presidency. In other countries, such cooperations usually start much sooner and are instigated by the government. But in Greece’s case, the government displayed no such initiative, prompting non-governmental organizations to take the lead by drafting proposals on several crucial issues which the Greek government will probably have to tackle during its presidential term. «With this initiative, our organizations are making a significant step toward the involvement of citizens in decision-making, which affects our future and that of the rest of Europe,» Nikos Haralambidis, director of the Greek office of Greenpeace, said yesterday. The groups have focused on four areas. In the agricultural sector, they believe Greece should promote the sustainable development of the countryside, with an emphasis on the production of quality foodstuffs and on the protection of the environment. «The fundamental environmental challenge Europe faces today is the essential implementation of the principles of sustainable development through policies and initiatives by the European Union and its member states,» Dimitris Karavellas, director of the World Wildlife Fund Hellas, stressed. As regards energy, Greece should lead efforts to promote «clean» forms of energy, in view of its abundant potential from the wind and the sun, and should implement the EU directive on water use, the groups say. They are also drafting proposals for warding off risks posed by chemicals. Other areas of concern are genetically modified foods, the safety of cargo transfers by sea, and the disposal of solid waste.

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