Within this area of expertise, the REC addresses the challenges associated with the negative environmental impacts generated by the use of natural resources; the rising costs of essential raw materials and minerals, their scarcity and price volatility; and the EU’s resource dependency. Support is provided to the development of national resource efficiency strategies. The focus is on material efficiency, the sourcing of raw materials, substitution, new materials, secondary raw materials, waste as a resource, land and soil use efficiency, using water as a resource, and the secondary use of biomass. The REC has deep and broad knowledge in the fields of waste and circular economy. Assistance is provided to European countries to unlock the potential of the circular economy package of the EU. The REC has a long track record in providing support to the European Commission in relation to air quality and industrial emissions legislation. Consistent with its long-term commitment to biodiversity protection, the REC also contributes to shaping and implementing local, national and relevant international nature conservation regulations. Special emphasis is given to activities that support the development of rural areas in a way that benefits both the human population and nature, such as branding projects and capacity building for local stakeholders in the fields of sustainable agriculture and tourism.
The main objectives related to sustainable resource use are to:
- promote the implementation of the EU Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe in Central and Eastern Europe, the EU circular economy package and related legislation;
- foster the application of strategic approaches and processes targeting sustainable resource use;
- assist businesses in improving their material efficiency;
- strengthen knowledge of European resource use and its negative environmental impacts and significance; and
- support the assessment of the implementation, review and further development of legislation related to air quality and industrial emissions.
Key objectives related to biodiversity and nature conservation are to:
- promote the integration of biodiversity and sustainable use concerns in education and rural development at both national and international level;
- translate field experience into new European biodiversity policies and legislation;
- strengthen the knowledge of relevant stakeholders on green infrastructure and ecosystem services;
- extend local support for the designation and proper management of new protected territories or zones by promoting the REC brand "Education for Natura 2000";
- strength the role of rural communities in the management of areas rich in biodiversity, including protected areas and Natura 2000 sites; and
- strengthen cooperation and the exchange of knowledge among REC country offices on issues relevant to biodiversity.
Activities in this area of expertise are centered around the following main themes:
- resource efficiency;
- waste and circular economy;
- air quality and industrial emissions;
- green infrastructure;
- ecosystem services;
- sustainable agriculture; and
- sustainable tourism.