Peter SCHMIDT, President of the NAT section - The COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call for change

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A statement by Peter SCHMIDT, president of the NAT section 

The cornerstones of my presidency 

The UN Agenda 2030 on sustainable development, the European Green (and Social!) Deal and the European Pillar of Social Rights will be the cornerstones of my presidency. These are the best blueprints we have to pave the way towards a sustainable recovery from the COVID crisis, leaving no one behind.

In particular, the social dimension of the transition to a climate-neutral Europe must be the priority at all political levels. If we do not include workers, farmers, employers and citizens democratically in this process, we will fail.

The NAT section's past work

The NAT Section has already issued bold proposals in past opinions on how a just transition has to be organised and which components are necessary for it. For example, we have adopted flagship opinions on Sustainable economyLeaving no one behindClimate pactSustainable consumptionComprehensive food policy, and Territorial approach to EU's rural areas, to name but a few.

The keyword is "wellbeing economy". In other words, we need a fundamental change in the economic model towards a new vision of prosperity for people and planet based on the principles of environmental sustainability, the right to a decent life and the protection of social values. 

The COVID-19 pandemic? A wake-up call for change

The COVID crisis has revealed the weakness of our current system and has increased inequalities. We need more than ever fair and sustainable supply chains in the whole food sector, which deliver equally for farmers, workers and business. We also need structured involvement of civil society, including youth, in sustainability and climate decision-making.

The priorities for this mandate

In order to tackle the coming challenges, I have proposed the following specific priorities for my mandate as President of the NAT Section:

  • Fostering a Comprehensive Food Policy - Towards a More Sustainable CAP
  • Restoring and preserving natural capital - Healthy planet for healthy people
  • Promoting Balanced Territorial Development

The COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call for change. We have an opportunity now to re-boot the system on new foundations and to move decisively towards a climate-neutral, sustainable and equal society. We also have the chance to "walk the talk" and promote more sustainable and inclusive working methods within our Section and Committee.

I look forward to working with all NAT (and all EESC) Members, as well as with our networks of stakeholders to bring this agenda forward.

President of the NAT section, EESC