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Regional Secretary for the Environment and Climate Change chaired the opening session of IMPEL National Network Conference

Regional Secretary for the Environment and Climate Change chaired the opening session of IMPEL National Network Conference

May 10, 2023

The Regional Secretary for the Environment and Climate Change, Alonso Miguel, chaired today the opening session of the IMPEL 2023 National Network Conference at the Ramo Grande Auditorium in Praia da Vitória.

Alonso Miguel stated that "it is a great honour for the Azores to host, for the first time, a conference of the IMPEL National Network - The European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law, which includes environmental authorities of European Union Member States as well as those of countries belonging to the European Economic Area and the European Free Trade Association."

For the government official, "this prestigious transnational association has as its main goal to create the necessary impetus for the effective application and implementation of European environmental legislation, through promotion and professional collaboration, information and exchange of best practices among environmental regulators."

"Accordingly, the work carried out by IMPEL is of particular relevance for a Region such as the Azores, whose environmental quality is one of its main assets and one of its greatest triumphs," said the Secretary for the Environment.

The Secretary for the Environment recalled that the Azores are recognised for having "environmental quality of excellence and a unique natural heritage; however, this is also an extremely fragile heritage, and it is essential to ensure its preservation and enhancement. It is crucial to create the necessary conditions for better surveillance and more effective implementation of the environmental legislation in force."

"Besides the implementation of a vast Regional Network of Protected Areas in the Azores, which currently comprises 124 protected areas, spread across nine Nature Island Parks, including 41 areas classified under the Natura 2000 Network, the Regional Government has been striving for the intensification of legislative production in various environmental areas with the aim of contributing to the preservation of environmental quality and to the ultimate goal of sustainable development in the Region," he added.

As the Secretary for the Environment stressed, several territorial management instruments are under revision and important legislation is being finalised, such as the new legal scheme for environmental impact assessment and licensing, the Strategic Waste Prevention and Management Programme under the Azores 20+ and the new general scheme for waste prevention and management. In turn, the implementation of roadmaps for the regional circular economy and for the carbon neutrality of the Azores is also underway.

Alonso Miguel stressed that "although the legislative and regulatory component is a key component of the action in the field of environmental protection, major challenges also lie in the enforcement and implementation of the environmental legislation in force."

"In this regard, the Regional Government is providing the regional public administration with another 12 staff members that will join the Azores Nature Watchers team. We will also increase the staff of the Regional Environment Inspectorate, as set out in the Programme of the Government," he said.

Alonso Miguel stated that "the regional public administration and security forces will respond more effectively to the present and future problems, the more empowered they are and the more coordinated the action is between all departments with powers in environmental matters, promoting environmental awareness, prevention and preservation."

"In 2021, the cooperation protocol between the Regional Environment Inspectorate and IGAMAOT - General Inspection of Agriculture, Sea, Environment and Spatial Planning was renewed, improving the regular communication channels and platforms and promoting the exchange of experiences and the sharing of means and knowledge. It is also aimed at meeting the needs arising from the process of development and consolidation of the Regional Environment Inspectorate, benefiting from the experience and merit of the activities carried out by IGAMAOT at a national level," he stressed

Alonso Miguel also pointed out that "the Region's participation and integration into the IMPEL network, through the Regional Environment Inspectorate, is of the utmost importance." In this context, he added that "events such as this conference of the IMPEL National Network, which is being held here today, are instrumental in the sharing of information, the coordination efforts between entities and the increased efficiency in the enforcement of environmental regulatory frameworks, for the common good, with regard to the preservation and enhancement of the natural heritage and environmental quality of the Autonomous Region of the Azores."

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