OECD Commends Austria's Environment but Calls for More Integrated Policies


17/11/2003 - The OECD has praised Austria's environmental performance, in particular the progress achieved towards its national environmental objectives and international commitments, such as clean air and drinking water, high sewerage connections and rates of recycling, and the reintroduction of salmon in the Danube. In its new report, the OECD also recommends that Austria steps up the efficiency of its environmental policies  by integrating environmental concerns in sectors such as energy, transport, agriculture and forestry.  
The OECD Environmental Performance Review of Austria, which makes 44 concrete recommendations to help improve the country's environment, will be launched at a news conference given by Josef Pröll, Austrian Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, and Lorents Lorentsen, Environment Director of the OECD at 11.00 am on Wednesday 19 November at the Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Protection of Water Resources and the Environment, in Vienna 1,  Stubenring Vienna.

Looking to the future, the report recommends that Austria:

  • improves its water and nature management framework in the European context, including the challenging Water Framework and Habitat Directives. A coherent network of protected areas is still missing in Austria, and management is not sufficient in a number of protected areas ;
  • improves the efficiency of its environmental policies and cuts environmental subsidies to be in line with the  "polluter pays" principle. This will entail a wider use of economic instruments ;
  • better integrates environmental concerns in sectoral policies such as energy, transport, agriculture and forestry policies through institutional integration and market-based integration. This includes a need for better demand management (e.g. transport, waste) ;
  • translates the environmental diplomacy objectives of the country more clearly in its Official Development Assistance programs and financial assistance to central and eastern European ;
  • implements the national climate strategy, including by use of fiscal and other economic instruments.

Focusing on the past 10 years, the report recognizes Austria's major environmental achievements, including:

  • continuous progress in reducing emissions of a range of air pollutants and decoupling SOx, NOx and CO2 from economic growth, reaching low levels of pollution intensity, reflecting a low energy intensity and relatively high supply in renewable energy (24% of total) ;
  • the quality of surface waters has continued to improve, and the quality of groundwater can rightly be a matter of national pride ;
  • the effective enforcement and compliance of environmental regulations reflect the convergence of public demands, federal and provincial efforts and industry's commitments to environmental progress ; 
  • overall, Austria's expenditure on pollution abatement and control - more than 2.1% of GDP - represents a strong environmental effort by OECD standards and has generated economic benefits such as exports of environmental technology and encouragement of its large tourism industry.

This publication is part of the OECD regular series of Environmental Performance Reviews  of OECD member countries and makes extensive use of environmental indicators. The report reviews Austria's progress in the context of the OECD Environmental Strategy for the First Decade of the 21st Century, and in relation to its own policy objectives, as stated in domestic legislation or international agreements.

To attend the news conference, or for further information about the OECD's Environmental Performance Reviews, journalists are invited to contact Helen Fisher, OECD Media Relations Division  (tel. [33] 1 45 24 80 97). Journalists can obtain the report from the Media Relations Division.



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