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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Will the Economic Crisis Impact Sustainability in Greece?

Source: herrco.gr
The risk that environmental programmes and sustainability initiatives be postponed due to the crisis is strong and nowhere less so than in Greece where environmental initiatives have been put on hold.  The government justifies this break as a consequence of the present economic crisis.  

Legislation on environmental impact assessment and environmental permitting, forest and construction legislation are some of the environmental policy domains which have already been affected.  According to WWF Greece’s 2012 report on the status of environmental legislation, serious environmental losses have taken place in Greece in 2011. 

The consequences of this approach are wide-ranging.  Hundreds of building permits have been granted without any assessment of their environmental impact.  Even within protected areas, natural public land is sold or leased.  Also, higher levels of atmospheric pollution have resulted and there is a real absence of clear policy in waste management.

Recycling is going backwards as well. The Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corporation (HE.R.R.Co S.A.) says that there was a 7% decrease in recycling from 2010 to 2011.  This is partially due to a reduction in consumption which can be expected in an economic recession, but it is mostly, I believe, due to the lack of government strategy and reduced funding for communications tools to inform and educate the public about the benefits of recycling.

Source mumusyros.gr
Despite the difficulties, some private companies continue to work in the environmental field.  In the islands of Cyclades MuMu organic, a small company, has been producing organic and sustainable clothing for women since 2009.  These organic garments are sold through their e-shop, so not only for Greeks.  Athena Bentila, the co-owner and designer of MuMu organic, who has been making her own clothes since she was fifteen, says “Our mission is to promote Fair Trade and organic fashion, providing beautiful women's clothing of high quality.”

Environmental and climate issues cannot wait to be addressed.  There is no excuse for postponing environmental programmes.  It is a relief to know that there are at least some private companies in Greece who aim to follow a more sustainable path.

Blog by Aris Koutentakis

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