Spain’s major environmental groups have criticised the autonomous governments for serious rollback on vital environmental policies since the wake of the crisis and issued a list of environmental and social policy priorities, following the elections of May 24th.
The economic crisis in Spain, now running in its seventh year, has offered excuse for an unprecedented rollback on key environmental and social policies, according to the report “Radiografía social del medio ambiente en España” issued on 3 June by Greenpeace Spain. In the report, Greenpeace states that “during these seven years of the crisis, it cannot be doubted that the Spanish society has suffered one of the worst periods of recession in social and environmental rights and public services”. The attacks on environmental policies have increased energy poverty, the deterioration of health conditions and corruption. In the report, Greenpeace examines the performance of the autonomous communities in the sectors of agriculture, air quality, coasts, fisheries, energy and climate change, land protection and management, and waste. The autonomous communities ranking higher in the index are La Rioja, Navarra and Madrid, while the laggards are Valencia, Cantabria and Aragon.
The report finds that the austerity policies implemented in response to the crisis promote an agenda of basic resource privatisations and the defoliation of important environmental protection services, such as the forest administration. In the same time, millions of euros in public funds are wasted in supporting environmentally destructive investment plans.
Following on the autonomous government elections of May 2015, WWF, Friends of the Earth, Ecologistas en Acción, Greenpeace, and SEO/BirdLife outlined a programme of policy priorities in order to integrate high-standard environmental protection across all policies and to boost each region’s green economy potential. Spain’s leading green groups focus on the need for a thorough rethinking of the regional environmental governance system. The organisations propose the establishment of a Sustainability Vice-President position in the organogram of each regional government, in order to facilitate the cross-cutting integration of environmental policies and the orientation of the regional economies towards truly sustainable territorial and social development. They also support the need for environment ministries to be created at each autonomous region, which will be dedicated to ensuring environmental health, law implementation, plan for green jobs and fight environmental crime. They also call on each autonomous government to undertake and “environmental diagnosis” at the very beginning of its term, in order to identify the priority areas for action and investment in green infrastructures.