Interview with Mike Asquith, Project Manager – Integrated Environmental Assessment, European Environmental Agency

The EIT Climate-KIC community comprises a rich diversity of expertise, skills and perspectives across our alumni, start-ups, innovation partners, advisors and associates, all of whom contribute to our innovation capacity. 

Following Turning Climate Transitions Into Practice: Experiments For Change event in Brussels, hosted by EIT Climate-KIC, we spoke to Mike Asquith, Project Manager for Integrated Environmental Assessment at the European Environmental Agency

What are you working on at the European Environment Agency?

The EEA works at the science-policy interface, developing information and knowledge to support the design and implementation of environmental policy.

My work focuses on understanding the systemic environmental challenges facing Europe and how societies can respond to them. That involves drawing together insights from the growing body of research and practice relating to ‘sustainability transitions’ and exploring the implications of these insights for policymaking.

What needs to happen to achieve the thing you’re working for?

Sustainability transitions are long-term and fundamental processes of societal change, which reduce environmental pressures while also contributing to other dimensions of human well-being. These kinds of processes depend on a huge variety of actions at different scales of governance.

As a starting point, I think that there’s a need for broader acknowledgement that achieving Europe’s sustainability goals will require fundamental changes in how we produce and consume. And that enabling such changes will depend critically on innovation – embracing not just new technologies but also new social practices, organisational forms, business models and so on.

Why is your particular way of working important for climate action?

The EEA is essentially a knowledge intermediary. I think that this is a really important role because there’s a huge wealth of information and evidence available in research and practice across Europe, which could contribute to the understanding of climate problems and how to respond.

At the moment, however, lots of knowledge remains dispersed or siloed. Knowledge brokers like the EEA have an important role in gathering, translating and synthesising knowledge. Hopefully, our work can complement communities such as Climate KIC, as well as other relevant networks, stakeholder platforms, networks, and so on.

What is next in the project pipeline?

During the summer I will launch a big new EEA report on the implications of transitions research for policy and practice, which I’ve been developing with a team of leading researchers, in interaction with colleagues at the European Commission.

I’m also initiating a piece of work that will explore the role of finance in supporting sustainability transitions. This should provide the foundations for a report in the next couple of years.

Finally, at the end of 2019, the EEA will be launching its next five-yearly report on the European environment’s state, trends and prospects, SOER 2020. Systemic challenges and transitions are key themes in that report and are set to remain at the heart of EEA work in coming years.

 
Location
Belgium
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