Ajaccio, 31 October 2007
The Grenelle Environment Forum brought together a huge number of high-calibre participants from a wide variety of spheres. Voluntary environmental organizations, elected representatives, the State, management and labour, employees, companies and agricultural unions all played a part in its successful outcome. As President Sarkozy reaffirmed, France intends to set the example and will make sustainable development the priority of her forthcoming EU presidency.
The Grenelle Environment Forum saw some genuine breaks with the past.
France is radically changing her transport strategy with priority going to rail and waterway transport. A vast plan to improve the energy efficiency of buildings will give priority to 800,000 social housing units. The government will launch a major programme to develop renewable energies with the aim of surpassing the European target of obtaining 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020.
The State will help farmers move to environmentally-friendly intensive and sustainable agriculture: the goal is to increase threefold the acreage devoted to organic farming by 2012 and make this 20% of all farmland by 2020. As regards pesticides, sales of the substances causing the greatest concern will soon be banned. Next year, the Ministry for Agriculture and Fisheries will put forward a plan to halve the use of pesticides known to be dangerous, if possible within the next ten years.
“Green belt” areas will be created in France in consultation with local authorities, developers, farmers, etc. Every effort will be made to limit urban sprawl, end the wastage of space, reduce soil sealing and prevent destruction of the countryside.
The Grenelle Environment Forum also saw the definition, for the first time, of a common concerted approach to the issue of genetically modified organisms (GMOs): a moratorium on the commercial growing of pest-resistant GMOs pending the conclusions of a study which will be conducted by a new independent body to be set up before the end of the year. The European Directive on GMOs will be transposed with due regard for four principles: liability of the players, transparency, right to consume and produce food with or without GMOs, obligation to assess the impact of GMOs on public health and the environment. With this in mind, research on GMOs will be stepped up.
Starting in 2008, a new national environment and health plan [dealing with the impact on health of environmental pollution] will be drawn up with all the interested parties. The issues addressed will include indoor air quality, transport, new technology and the emerging pathologies.
In 2008 a multi-annual estimates Act will lay down the principles and objectives of France’s sustainable development policy. However, straightaway, i.e. by mid-December, the government will put forward detailed action plans reflecting the Grenelle Environment Forum’s decisions./.