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What environmental issues have been discussed in 2014?

The main issue has been the need for a “low-carbon economy”. What innovative ideas have been presented?

Congreso Nacional de Medio Ambiente (CONAMA, “National Conference on the Environment”) has just taken place for a 12th time, which is held annually in Madrid. All kinds of experts gathered and its assistants were able to glean information from first-hand reports, surveys, forecasts, problems and solutions on environmental issues.

What has been the conference´s aim this year? The main issue has been the need for a “low-carbon economy”. It intends to find a practical solution to the dilemma of “more consumption for boosting the economy, and less consumption for saving the planet”.

Chiefly connected with this issue, many others have been discussed in this 2014 conference. Would you like to know what these are about? And most importantly, what innovative ideas have been presented?

- Climate change:

The urgent aim is to limit the global surface temperature increase of 2°C from now until the end of the century. The problem is that it tends to increase by 4°C, with its disastrous and irreparable consequences on the planet caused by this increase –as we have already been warned since the last IPCC report.

Sustainable fishing

- Care for biodiversity:

Extinction of species, tropical rainforests, and deforestation. What ideas or courses of action have been revealed in the conference concerning all this? This time the EU has certainly assigned structural funds for a green economy in the 2014-2020 period. One part of these funds goes the fishing sector, considering biodiversity and the environment. This makes a part of that money be invested in more sustainable fishing methods.

 

 

Upcycling: An old fishing net turned into a sport technical jacket. Ecoalf.
- Waste treatment:

 

Any notions presented at CONAMA? Upcycling; turning something of supposedly low quality into something superior. Any examples? An old fishing net turned into a sport technical jacket. Still, raising the awareness of less consumption remains our closest ally.

 

- Notion of a “circular” economy:

It is no longer possible to consider the economy in the traditional way, and it is necessary to change from a linear model –in which something is manufactured, used and then dumped –to a circular one, where the product can be recycled. For example, in the case of the textile union, in Spain every person annually generates 8-10 kg of textile waste on average. Just getting rid of these clothes means wasting a resource. For this purpose, using containers fitted for a selective collection of clothes that reduce this urban textile waste by 20% from 2015 is a way of taking action against this problem.

- Energy transition:

Necessary for achieving the goal of a low-carbon economy and reducing the global surface temperature increase. For this purpose, considering construction is essential. In Spain 30% of the energy used comes from the building trade, so it has become one of the main bases to be considered within the goal of energy efficiency.

- Rural development:

We have to eco-evolve alongside the country

Job creation in rural areas for promoting their development; improving social services; environmentally-friendly farming plans through innovative experiences. It is a development in which we have to eco-evolve alongside the country. Any successful experiences? At CONAMA some have been shown, such as the recovering of El Maderal town. It began as a way out of bankruptcy and as a way of recovering its population by fostering leisure activities, recovering forest resources and environmentally-friendly farming. As a result, new jobs have been created there.

 

 

- Sustainable mobility and air quality:

Commuter bikes as an alternative to commuter cars

One of the issues addressed, and an important one for big cities. Being aware of using low-emission vehicles is to be implemented by citizens and institutions. Any innovative ideas revealed at the conference? Commuter bikes as an alternative to commuter cars. Employees are given incentives by their companies to purchase a bicycle or they are offered a tax benefit. In Germany workers pay for their bicycles with their gross salary while saving on taxes, which means a 40% saving.

 

 

This year CONAMA has been once again a place where the latest environmental breakthroughs have been displayed. There is no question that everyone agrees on the urgency of implementing all these innovative measures so as to achieve the goals of reducing emissions and a low-carbon economy.

Conferences on the environment also take place in other countries with a higher and higher attendance of general public and experts because of the global warming´s urgency. For instance, Mexico holds the Congreso Internacional Ambiental (“International Conference on the Environment”) “The Green Expo” every September. Argentina holds the Congreso Regional de Medio Ambiente (“Regional Conference on the Environment”) every October; Brazil holds the Feira Internacional de Tecnologia para o Meio Ambiente or Bio Brazil Fair 2014 in Sao Paulo, and Colombia holds the FIMA, the Feria Internacional de Medio Ambiente (“International Conference on the Environment”) in Bogota, among others.

Which issues do you consider most urgent? Do you think the implementation of all these measures should speed up? Tell us what you think!

More information: CONAMA 2014.

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