International policy and knowledge transfer

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International exchange of knowledge is the basis for worldwide environmental protection standards.

A group of experts at a diskussion on a table.

Source: / Fotolia

Environmental damage does not stop at borders. This is why the paths to greater environmental protection and sustainable development are increasingly being negotiated at international level - the shared responsibility of all states for a viable world is becoming more and more widely known.

International policy and knowledge transfer

UBA supports the development of human resources and institutional capacities in the environmental sector in its partner countries in a variety of ways. The policy and knowledge transfer offer is directed primarly at the new EU member states, the countries of the European Neighbourhood Policy, and other developing and emerging countries. The aim is to support relevant actors in the formulation and implementation of national environmental policy through active advice. Therefore, the focus is on the transfer of international environmental programmes and measures to the national level of the partner countries, such as the transposition of current EU environmental legislation into national law. The support relates to both classic fields of action such as waste management, chemical safety, water protection and air quality management as well as public participation, environmental education and green economy.

UBA develops science-based practical solutions to various environmental protection issues. These are based primarily on research findings, the experience gained in German and European practice and active participation in the further development of international agreements. Furthermore, UBA is an important and recognized partner in a variety of coordination and regulatory processes and committees. It therefore has extensive knowledge and experience of administrative issues, organizational and legal responsibilities and interactions of stakeholders at international, national, regional and local levels.

Development towards cooperation with neighbouring European countries

Cooperation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and other neighbouring countries of the EU is one priority of the Federal Environment Agency's international activities, e.g. in the Advisory Assistance Programme. The political upheavals of the early 1990s, the involvement in the negotiations on international environmental treaties and the prospect of new EU accession countries posed new challenges for many regions.

The political transformation in Eastern Europe over two decades ago set the stage for stringent environmental policies. Even before EU accession negotiations got underway, Germany concluded bilateral environmental agreements with some of the candidate states. The Eastern and Central European nations that joined the EU in 2004 underwent extremely rapid transformation, whereby the need to implement the EU’s stringent environmental standards led to impressive legislative dynamism. Nevertheless, the implementation of such standards will remain a challenge. The German government is committed to providing continuous support for this process. The main goal of these efforts also includes cooperation with Eastern partner countries, taking into account, in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the agreement between the EU and partner countries on specific areas such as environmental or economic reform goals. To meet these goals, it is necessary to lay the institutional basis for sustainable development and assist the signatory states with the process of ratifying and implementing international environmental treaties.

Cooperation instruments

For the cooperation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and further the EU neighboring countries, UBA uses various instruments. The Advisory Assistance Programme (AAP) of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety enables the exchange and transfer of knowledge and experience in the target region to strengthen the local environmental authorities, raise environmental standards and prepare environmental investments. UBA coordinates the necessary agreements between the parties involved on a project-based basis, implements the projects administratively and provides technical support where it is responsible for them.

The postgraduate UNEP /UNESCO/ BMU International Training Programme on Environmental Management for Developing Countries offers one long and several short courses on environmental management for experts and executives from developing and emerging countries every year in Germany. The aim of the training programme is to provide participants with knowledge and awareness of global environmental processes and methods for sustainable resource management. The programme is offered by the Centre for International Postgraduate Studies of Environmental Management (CIPSEM) at the TU Dresden.

Twinning is an instrument that was created by the European Commission in the wake of EU expansion. Because of its great success, this instrument is now being used not only in the countries that are joining or are candidates for joining the EU, but also in neighbouring European countries. As a subordinate authority, UBA supports the environmental policy of the German federal government, which seizes the opportunity to establish EU-funded administrative partnerships to assist the authorities of these states in adopting or aligning with the acquis communautaire (Community acquis of the EU) and in developing modern administrations.

UBA also participates in bilateral environmental dialogues with political and scientific actors from other countries. For example, UBA has contributed its expertise to the „Indo-German Expert Group on Green and Inclusive Economy“. This group of experts with representatives from Indian and German research institutes and political think tanks provides a platform for exchanging views on the necessary framework conditions and perspectives for low-emission, resource-efficient and socially balanced economic development and jointly developing recommendations for policy and cooperation between the two countries. Within the framework of Indo-German bilateral cooperation, the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and the Federal Environment Agency have jointly developed a position paper on sustainable lifestyles ("Sustainable Lifestyles - Pathways and choices for India and Germany"). Further papers on a green and inclusive transformation ("Exploring Pathways towards a green and inclusive transformation"), on decoupling economic growth from resource consumption ("Decoupling economic growth from resource consumption") and on sustainable urban concepts ("Sustainable Cities - inclusive, green and competitive") were developed with other cooperation partners.