Speech by President von der Leyen at the EU Green Week 2021 conference

June 1, 2021
Share on

I am so pleased to kick off this new EU Green Week. It is wonderful to know that there are hundreds of partner events taking place across Europe, big and small, north and south, east and west.

[…] It is painfully clear that human activity has negative impacts on other forms of life. Pollution is threatening the survival of more than 1 million plant and animal species – on land and at sea. It is one of the five leading causes of biodiversity loss. We cannot be negligent any longer. Thus, we are determined to tackle this challenge through our European Green Deal.

Another truth that we are increasingly aware of is that the health of the planet is closely linked with human health. The loss of biodiversity and the intrusion of humans into the habitat of wildlife is the breeding-ground for pandemics. When we pollute the planet, we pollute our own bodies and minds. One in 8 deaths in Europe is caused by pollution. Several cancers, and heart and respiratory diseases, are linked to pollution.

On top comes another issue. The most vulnerable in society are suffering the harshest impacts. These threats affect our children – whose fragile bodies can suffer long-term harm. They threaten the elderly and those with particular medical conditions. And they disproportionately impact the most deprived members of society: Those who are living in poorer socio-economic conditions. So the fight against pollution is also a fight for fairness and equality.

It is for all of them, and for mother earth, that I presented my Zero Pollution Ambition for Europe. I did this right after being nominated as Commission President in 2019. And I am proud of all the work we did. Last month the Commission adopted our Zero Pollution Action Plan. We are setting new 2030 targets to tackle pollution in all its forms. To reduce it to a level where it no longer harms human health or the environment.

[…] Keep in mind this quote by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Let’s change the world together and make it a world of zero pollution.

For more information

Full statement

Countries covered:

  • Algeria
  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Palestine *
  • Syria *
  • Tunisia