Photo: Ministry of Environment and Water
"Air quality is quality of life. Air does not recognise state borders or working hours. That is why I want us to think about the tasks of today's forum as an urgent matter", the Bulgarian Minister of Environment and Water Neno Dimov stated at the opening of the 21st European Eco-innovation Forum on Air Quality held today and tomorrow in Sofia.
Usually we take a strategic approach and plan on a long-term basis when it comes to the environment, but for the health of 500 million Europeans this is not enough and we have to act, said Minister Dimov to the participants in the Forum. "I am putting the issue to you today, and I will present the results of this forum to my colleagues at the informal meeting of EU Environment Ministers in April," he added.
The 21st European Eco-innovation Forum brings together politicians, diplomats, experts and scientists from the EU, the Western Balkans, the Eastern Partnership, and the Black Sea region. "It gives us the determination to look for decisions that work and it obliges us to find them. Here is the place to thank the European Commission for its strong support on this priority and to express my confidence that together we will contribute to a truly European approach on the subject. Here I will recall the motto of the Bulgarian presidency ‘United We Stand Strong’", said Mr Dimov.
Eco-innovations hold an important place in Bulgarian national politics. Resources from EU funds are foreseen to focus on introducing eco-innovation in the field of renewable energy sources and fuel systems for vehicles, solutions directly related to air quality. Targeted support for eco-innovation is also provided by the National Innovation Fund. Serious efforts are being made for ‘green’ mobility in public transport.
A week ago, it was agreed to link the precise air quality measuring stations of the Executive Environment Agency (ExEA) with the civil network airbg.info on a common platform. Bulgaria will be active in legislative and policy initiatives that support innovative solutions in the field of air quality and will seek best practices for reducing emissions. As the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU in the coming months, we will be working on this issue in the name of all Europeans.
“The EU wants to set more ambitious targets for CO2 emissions for vehicles, as well as to pay attention to transport infrastructure and encourage electrification. We want to work for smart mobility. However, we cannot succeed without cooperation between the government, the citizens and the business in the direction of implementing the innovative solutions. These solutions are already a fact, they must be adopted and implemented in Europe”, said the Director of DG Environment of the European Commission, Daniel Kayeha Crespo, in his speech to the Forum.
In a video address to the participants in the forum, Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Carmen Vela said: "Wherever you live, it is almost certain that air pollution is a problem. This is not a problem for Bulgaria or Europe, it is a global problem. Each year 400,000 people die in Europe because of poor air quality. We all have to work together at all levels to provide cleaner air to citizens. "Bulgarian MEP Iskra Mihaylova, who, on behalf of the European Parliament, highlighted the seriousness of the problem, also participated in the European Eco-innovation Forum and stated that working solutions should be sought together. Prior to the forum, Minister Dimov and Mr Kayeha visited an exhibition presenting innovative technologies related to air cleanliness as part of the forum.