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Priority 3: Using our environment responsibly

Protecting the Central European environment now and for future generations is one of the pre-conditions for sustainable growth. This is particularly relevant for Central Europe where an economic catching-up process is taking place, creating both new opportunities as well as threats for the environment.

Projects under this priority will aim at more responsible use and better preservation of Central Europe’s environment. They will manage and protect natural resources, support the use of environmentally friendly technologies and reduce the risks and impacts of natural and man-made hazards. They will also support the use of renewable energy and increase energy efficiency.

Summary/Overview About Central Europe's environment

Central Europe disposes of unique natural assets such as the upper Danube, the Carpathian area, the Alps as well as parts of the Baltic and Adriatic Seas. Rivers form decisive linking elements between the Western and Eastern (Danube) and Northern and Southern parts of the area (Elbe/Labe, Oder/Odra). Such natural assets represent one of the intrinsic elements of Central Europe’s identity and offer great opportunities for intensified transnational cooperation.

Natural resources are a central component of the living environment of the cooperation area and fulfil important ecological functions as well as serving as values for the whole region and beyond. Their management and enrichment must also be seen also as an economic factor. Investigations carried out under the precursor INTERREG programmes have shown how nature can be preserved and at the same time used for socio-economic development without damaging ecological functions.

During the last years, Central Europe has been highly exposed to flooding along the rivers and the high pressure of urban development also affects flood plains. Both natural risks and man-made impacts do constitute a considerable threat for the cooperation area.

The low share of renewable energy in some countries of Central Europe, the intensive land use and the dispersed settlement structures suggest that the area has big potentials for renewable energy sources and for increasing its energy efficiency. The ongoing restructuring of the energy sector in
the cooperation area represents the opportunity to diversify the energy supply, and to fulfill the Kyoto requirements. Furthermore, this may generate economic, environmental and social benefits for the citizens.

Against the described environmental challenges an objective has been formulated, which bridges environmental concerns with human and economic activities and gives a direct response to the principle of sustainable growth.

Key Words
Technology transfer / cluster development, clean production processes & eco-innovation, ICT solutions, ICT e-services / public services, wind energy, solar energy, biomass energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency & saving, waste management, drinking water management, waste water management, air quality, pollution control and prevention, climate change / mitigation, brownfield rehabilitation, biodiversity / nature protection, clean urban transport, risk prevention & management, natural resource management, natural assets, natural heritage, institutional learning / policy development.

This priority includes the following areas of intervention:

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