Since 2010, under the three Economic Adjustment Programmes, Greece has witnessed an important loss of environmental legislation and policy, whereas budget cuts have impacted vitally important governance structures. The country has also seen increased pressures and encroachment on valuable ecosystems, such as coastal areas and forests.
In the same time, the major global challenge is putting the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from paper into practice. Agreed in September 2015, the 17 SDGs and 169 targets are the agreed international platform for a much better, ecologically sustainable and socially equitable world, which needs to become the common vision and basis for collaborative policy implementation.
Greece’s debt is unsustainable and crippling for the country’s economy, environment and social well-being, while at the same time dragging the entire euro-area into uncertainty for too long. Beyond the dramatic state of its finances, Greece is one of the European Union’s most important member states in terms of ecological wealth. WWF believes that ecologically rich member states need to be encouraged to sustainably manage the environment as a vitally significant common good, while at the same time linking the conservation of their unique natural capital with the improvement of their economic status.
WWF proposes that in return for the implementation of specific environmental measures, substantial debt relief be approved for Greece. Such a scheme would ‘restart’ the country’s battered economy towards a more sustainable direction while at the same time conserving globally significant biodiversity and contributing towards the achievement by the EU and the concerned member states of key global sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Through this discussion paper we propose a series of measures for a) the conservation of Europe’s natural wealth, b) green economy, and c) revenue enhancement, while combating environmental crime, as conditionality for a meaningful debt relief agreement. The conditionality that will be developed as a basis for such an agreement will need to include good governance, economic development, green revenue enhancement and environmental crime combatting measures.
Ultimately, the proposed scheme of sustainable debt relief for Greece concerns the joint execution of a specific project for the conservation of one of the European Union’s most important ecological treasuries and a model for green economic development.
The proposed debt policy framework is an opportunity for the European Union to address the debt crisis while at the same time securing the future of Europe’s natural wealth, achieving inter-generational equity and implementing key SDGs.
In these difficult times, the European Union needs more Europe and more Union. The financial crisis that broke out in 2008 has been dragging the entire EU into uncertainty for too long. The environment being a common asset whose good status requires concerted EU action, can offer a platform for joint initiatives that offer a more coherent vision of Europe uniting for the achievement of the common good.
This is a discussion paper elaborated by WWF as an initial contribution that will hopefully stimulate a political and public dialogue on Greece’s debt crisis, ultimately aiming to promote financial and ecological sustainability for the entire European Union.