Regional Secretariat for the Environment and Climate Change promotes cycle of information and environmental awareness-raising sessions for agricultural and livestock sector
May 2, 2023
The Regional Secretary for the Environment and Climate Change, Alonso Miguel, chaired this Wednesday the opening of a cycle of information and environmental awareness-raising sessions targeted at the agricultural and livestock sector. They are promoted by the Regional Secretary for the Environment and Climate Change, through the Regional Environment Inspectorate, in collaboration with the Azores Agricultural Federation.
Alonso Miguel stated that the initiative aims to "create an opportunity and a space of proximity for an open and direct dialogue on the absolute need to reconcile environmental protection with the Region's progress and economic development based on its most important sector: agriculture."
The Regional Secretary clarified that "the Azores are recognised for presenting high levels of environmental quality, and this aspect takes on a truly strategic importance for the Region's development."
He continued: "The natural resources necessary for the creation of our extraordinary products and foodstuffs depend on this environmental quality."
"Our natural and environmental heritage is a brand image of our Region, generating wealth economy and jobs. It also provides a livelihood for many Azorean families and plays a decisive role in keeping people on our islands," he explained.
According to the governor, "it is essential to ensure the definition of a solid strategy for the sustainable development of the Azores, which will promote a balance between social and economic development and the protection of environmental quality and management of natural resources. In this regard, Alonso Miguel recognised "the relevant role of agricultural producers and agriculture, as the main activity and driving force of economic development, being the first line of defence, the major stakeholders and the true guardians of this legacy, wealth and unique heritage."
"Notwithstanding the importance of this sector and its importance for wealth generation and the economic development of the Azores, the influence that agricultural activity has on the environment and the potential to cause negative impacts, in the case of negligence or bad practices, is also undeniable," he added.
Alonso Miguel stated that "environmental legislation is rigorous and the administrative offence regulations are very tight, as they are primarily focused on the prevention of environmental impacts from happening," explained the government official.
"From an educational standpoint and a prevention-based approach, this initiative aims to improve the environmental performance of livestock farms, minimise the pollution of soils and water resources and contribute to the well-being of the population by addressing relevant issues, namely bad odours originating in farms, the disposal of livestock effluents, and the discharges or run-off of livestock effluents into water lines and public roads. Moreover, it also improper disposal of agricultural waste and the inadequate application of plant protection products, which are some of the main infringements reported to the Regional Environment Inspectorate."
Alonso Miguel added that despite a very positive path towards environmental sustainability in this sector, "there is still room for improvement in the environmental performance of farms, as there is also room for greater proactivity, environmental awareness-raising and networking between the Public Administration and the entities with competence in inspection, monitoring and enforcement of environmental legislation matters in establishing a close cooperation with agricultural producers" in the Azores.
"This initiative arises as the result of these assumptions, being targeted at the agricultural sector. It is promoted by the Regional Secretariat for the Environment and Climate Change, through the Regional Environment Inspectorate, with the participation of the Nature and Environment Protection Service of GNR - National Republican Guard and with the collaboration of the Azores Agricultural Federation. It also involves agricultural associations and cooperatives as well as the Agrarian Development Services of various islands," he added.
According to the government official, "we expect that this can be a dynamic, proximity, information, clarification and awareness-raising forum on environmental protection matters, which will improve the environmental performance of the agricultural and livestock sector, but through which it will also be possible to identify difficulties and gaps in the application of the current legislation."
Alonso Miguel also expressed his confidence that this pioneering initiative, which will take place in all municipalities of the Azores until the end of 2023, will make "an important contribution to the environmental sustainability of the Region, the improvement of the environmental performance of the agricultural and livestock sector, the well-being of the population, and to the development of a Public Administration that will be better prepared to undertake its responsibilities."