Ms. Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the European Environmental Agency (EEA) paid a visit to the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations (FGO) on the 28th June 2011. Professor McGlade arrived from the Annual Conference of the Sustainable Development Network – this time organized by the Ministry of Rural Development as a closure event of the Hungarian EU-presidency –, where she had launched Signals 2011 – Globalisation, Environment and You, a recent publication of EEA.
At their meeting Ms. McGlade and Mr. Fülöp updated each other on the work of their institutions, and explored fields of possible cooperation between EEA and FGO. Ms. Erzsébet Gergely, Vice Head of the Strategy Department at the Ministry of Rural Development was also present at the meeting.
At the EEA, in the data collection and communication work of the last few years, as professor McGlade explained, a particular emphasis has been laid on the ”human factor” and the cultural diversity, as human communities all around the world are both chief actors and sufferers of the global environmental, social and economic changes and crises.
New generations – especially the increasing population of city-dwellers – are usually facing reluctantly the shocking phenomena, the symptoms of environmental problems. Conventional communication of factual information on the global crises would rather generate aversion, indifference and disinterest. Showing real human stories and attitudes, however, can make the roots of global problems more easy to perceive and understand.
The values, practical knowledge and spirituality of indigenous rural communities provide an extremely rich source of information, which can help the proper interpretation and implementation of sustainability. The green ombudsman confirmed that the practical elements of FGO’s Sustainable Communities Programme intend to find and reinforce precisely these invaluable resources.
The European Environmental Agency focuses on the elaboration of so-called future indicators, i.e. signal systems that are able to make predictions for the environmental, economic and social future of forthcoming generations, based on recent data and trends. Professor McGlade expressed her opinion that there are possibilities of fruitful cooperation between the EEA, the FGO and the Ministry of Rural Development on this issue.
The heads of the institutions committed themselves to establish a tighter cooperation between FGO and EEA. As a first step of the joint work, Professor McGlade offered to organize the launching event of EEA’s forthcoming publication, the second edition of “Late Lessons from Early Warnings” together with the Office of the Future Generations Ombudsman in Autumn 2011. The publication will be a collection of case studies emphasizing the crucial importance of the implementation of precautionary principle and long-term strategic planning.