Let’s safeguard our livelihoods – consistently protect nature and the environment

Our environment and the preservation of biodiversity are our life insurance and that of our children and future generations. We must preserve what sustains us: pure air to breathe and clean water, healthy soils for healthy food, forests and urban nature, the web of species and natural resources on which our prosperity is based.

The protection of the environment, nature and climate is not a purely ecological issue, but also a social and economic one that has an impact on the health of every individual and on the foundations of our coexistence. People with low incomes in particular can often only afford housing in areas where poor air quality and high noise pollution prevail and access to greenery close to home is not available. For us, resolute environmental policy means resolute health and social policy.

Knowledge of planetary boundaries underpins our policies. The ecological limits have already been exceeded in many places in North Rhine-Westphalia. Weather extremes are hitting us more and more often in NRW, too, showing the advance of the climate crisis on our doorstep. Natural disasters such as the extreme flooding in July 2021 will endanger people and the environment more and more frequently. Climate crisis, land sealing, industrial agriculture, raw material extraction and globalized consumption are leaving more and more traces in our nature. For example, one third of all trees in NRW are already significantly damaged. Almost half of all plant, fungus and animal species are on the Red List, i.e. endangered. And our responsibility goes far beyond our local nature, because the loss of biodiversity is a global problem. The way we live and work here has a serious impact on other parts of the world.

We are confident that numerous environmental problems such as the Rhine pollution or the ozone hole could be alleviated in the past with clear regulation, new technologies and social consensus. Especially in NRW, numerous innovations and jobs have been created in the field of environmental economy. Species extinction, climate crisis or the littering of the oceans today require more complex and intelligent solutions – but these solutions are already on the table and it needs a political force to implement them.

Protecting nature and biodiversity on the one hand and climate protection on the other hand are two sides of the same coin. Both are indisputable prerequisites for the preservation of our livelihoods. The two goals can only be achieved together. By protecting nature and restoring ecosystems, we preserve and strengthen natural CO2 sinks such as forests, peatlands, rivers and oceans, and by protecting the climate we prevent the loss and irreversible conversion of these habitats. That’s why we need solutions to advance climate protection and biodiversity conservation together at the same time. Wherever there are conflicting goals between nature conservation and climate protection, we Greens have a responsibility to find solutions – because without climate protection there can be no intact nature, and without nature conservation there can be no stable climate.

Protecting nature and biodiversity on the one hand and climate protection on the other are two sides of the same coin. Both are indisputable prerequisites for preserving our livelihoods. The two goals can only be achieved together. By protecting nature and restoring ecosystems, we preserve and strengthen natural CO2 sinks such as forests, peatlands and oceans; by protecting the climate, we prevent the loss and irreversible conversion of these habitats. That’s why we need solutions to advance climate protection and biodiversity conservation together. Wherever there are conflicting goals between nature and climate protection, we Greens have a responsibility to find new solutions – because without climate protection there is no intact nature, and without nature protection there is no good climate.

Currently, NRW is stuck in a deregulation mantra in which economic growth is to be promoted at the expense of biodiversity, nature, climate and health consequences for the people of NRW. Citizens, parts of the economy and many municipalities have long since moved on and are demanding more: Only if we preserve the natural foundations of life will we secure medium and long-term prosperity in our industrialized country and guarantee the foundations for a life in freedom and dignity. Instead of playing economy and environment off against each other, we GREENS identify ways to make environmental, nature and climate protection pay off and effective for everyone. We want our industry and agriculture to operate in harmony with nature and for our economy to become a cycle in which resources are reused.

New technologies and digitalization can also help us live and operate more sustainably and healthily if they are guided by clear legal guardrails. However, technologies will not be able to replace fundamental changes and rapid action, but only complement them. For a long time, NRW was a pioneer in environmental technologies. We are convinced: It is a locational advantage to have the cleanest industry.

We GREENS stand for a policy that gives more space to nature – in the city and in the countryside. And we give environmental, nature and species protection in North Rhine-Westphalia the value it deserves: Political attention, effective legal protection, sufficient financial resources, effective structures and sufficiently qualified personnel for the environmental administration, as well as support for the many voluntary climate and nature protectors* in our state.

Far-sighted policy for nature and species conservation

The loss of animal and plant species and of near-natural habitats continues to worsen every year, both globally and in North Rhine-Westphalia. We are in the midst of the sixth major global mass extinction in the history of the earth – this time caused by humans. Even in most protected areas where nature is supposed to take precedence , biodiversity is declining dramatically . Many species also die undetected simply because they have not yet been discovered.

With the dramatic decline of insects, species in the food webs of birds, frogs, lizards and mammals are irretrievably lost. Ecosystems that have grown up are collapsing. Land consumption, intensive agriculture and forestry, and insufficient protection in protected areas are also directly affecting birds, amphibians, mammals and plants.

Intact ecosystems prevent the spread of pests and pathogens. The current corona pandemic is a particularly serious example of the importance of zoonotic diseases, which have now been identified for ca. 3/4 of infectious diseases in humans are caused by insects. We call for the one-health approach (the systematic cooperation of human, veterinary and environmental science) to be strengthened in NRW.

For us GREENS, the protection of nature and species is part fundamental. That’s why we have supported the popular initiative on biodiversity in North Rhine-Westphalia with full conviction from the outset. Because unlike previous mass extinctions in the history of the Earth, we humans have the power to protect our ecosystems. The solutions are on the table. We GREENS work together with the many allies in environmental and conservation organizations to preserve our biodiversity and natural habitats:

  • Land consumption is a major cause of species extinction. Every day in NRW, approx. ten hectares of land lost under concrete and through excavation in surface and gravel mining. Farmable land in particular is also being lost, causing lease prices to rise for farmers* and exacerbating farm deaths. We GREENS are committed to In the short term, for the resumption of the 5 hectare target one that was removed from the state development plan by black-yellow coalition. Until at the latest By 2035, we want to reduce land consumption to net zero and develop an effective strategy for this, including a land sealing levy, operational targets and concrete measures. We advocate a new land compensation model in which the ecological quality of the compensation area has a higher priority. With a "gravel euro" and a land sealing levy, we create financial incentives to reduce land and raw material consumption.
  • We create overarching biotope network for NRW. Grassland, forests, sufficiently wide riparian strips and other structures should form the blue-green connecting axes for the distribution of many animal and plant species.
  • With a national park in the Senne and new protected areas, we are creating additional sanctuaries for endangered species. Wherever possible, protected areas must be connected and larger biotope systems established. We want to create incentives and specifications for the preservation of different habitat types with support programs. With the reintroduction of the landscape program, we will create a statewide concept for biotope and species protection with binding specifications for regional plans. The right of first refusal for protected areas for nature conservation associations must finally be implemented.
  • The NRW Biodiversity Strategy is an important instrument for nature conservation in NRW. We continue and revise them. In doing so, we update their goals against the backdrop of new natural science data. At the same time, initial measures must be implemented and the biodiversity strategy must be supplemented with a concrete program of measures "State program for biological diversity" must be underpinned.
  • Wolf management must be improved on an equal footing between ecology and grazing livestock. The recolonization of our federal state by the wolf can be chalked up as an ecological success. At the same time, the return of this species is accompanied by growing threats to grazing animals and hobby animals as potential prey species. Against this background, the regulations made so far on wolf management in NRW must be assessed as inadequate. The goal of all action must be to achieve the least possible conflict and/or. -poor coexistence of wolf and humans. In the opinion of the Greens, grazing livestock must also be possible in the future. It may fail neither because of fears nor because of missing financial or personnel resources.
  • We want to better protect existing protected areas. This can be achieved through a ban on synthetic chemical pesticides and mineral fertilizers in protected areas, extensive buffer strips and species-friendly farming practices.We specifically promote a diverse landscape structure of hedges, borders, fallows or small bodies of water and thus create a species-rich landscape with diverse habitats.
  • It is also important to protect and strengthen biodiversity in villages and towns. To this end, we support u.a. on redensification and land recycling, green facades and roofs, strong municipal tree protection statutes and an effective exclusion of so-called gravel gardens in the state building code. The improper use of pesticides in the private sector is a major problem. We therefore want to keep their use to an absolute minimum. We want to completely end the use of herbicides in both the private non-agricultural and public sectors.
  • In addition to land grabbing, extremely intensive forms of cultivation are also fuelling species extinction – and here in particular the excessive use of synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers, as well as monotony in the fields due to far too tight crop rotations. We demand a binding and short-term pesticide reduction program from the federal government, with which the use of pesticides can be quickly halved in a first step. We will end the use of pesticides that are critical for biodiversity. Where additional costs arise, we want to support farmers with support and compensation concepts. NRW must lobby at federal level for a ban on the export of pesticides that are not permitted in the EU. NRW policy must also finally push at federal and EU level for modified approval procedures for synthetic chemical pesticides that take greater account of their impact on nature and health. Our goal is a structurally rich and rural agriculture, which is resource-conserving, nature-friendly and oriented to the model of ecological agriculture with its principles of animal justice, freedom from genetic engineering and the renunciation of chemical-synthetic pesticides.
  • We support healthy nutrition and the sale of regional and organically produced products with the Healthy Canteen Program for public institutions such as day-care centers, schools, hospitals, universities and administrations. Thus, we want to increase the use of organically produced food to at least 20 percent. One thing is clear to us: nature-friendly agriculture has its price – that’s why we want to reward farmers fairly for their consideration of the environment and nature by selling them in public institutions.
  • Public money for public goodsWe rely on support and concrete incentive systems for the development of renewable energies Switching to insect- and bird-friendly and nature-compatible agricultureft with nitrogen-reduced cultivation and species-friendly farming methods. Small field units in particular are good for biodiversity. It is therefore all the more important that we stop the death of small farms. We are also advocating for this in the negotiations on EU agricultural reform. Research into nature-friendly farming methods also needs more support.
  • In order to reduce monocultures of corn and other energy crops that have developed, their use in biogas plants be replaced by wild plants, residual materials and landscape management material. To this end, the necessary legal framework must be created and support measures put in place.
  • In the case of regenerative forms of energy, species protection and climate protection may come into conflict. However, both goals are closely linked; the climate crisis is fueling species extinction, and intact ecosystems serve as natural CO2 sinks and are more resistant to climate change. Climate protection and species conservation can only succeed together. The implementation of the energy transition will be successful if nature conservation is involved at an early stage and species conservation concerns are examined transparently, thoroughly and taken into account. The instruments must be further developed in such a way that the testing effort and testing time do not structurally stand in the way of sufficient capacity development for renewable energies.
  • We consider photovoltaic systems on agricultural land to be appropriate where crop production, z.B. significant advantages are achieved in special crops or animal husbandry through the multiple benefits of roofing (shading, wind and rain protection) and if nature and the landscape are only slightly affected in the process.
  • Last but not least, the protection of species requires the support of every individual. We therefore advocate a Targeted education campaign on species protection and the possibilities of each individual. The popular initiative on biodiversity in NRW offers an excellent starting point for this. Ecological contexts and knowledge about nature and its conservation value must also be learned more broadly, intensively and practically in schools – in the spirit of education for sustainable development.
  • The biodiversity strategy can only be implemented with the help of systematic monitoring of species and their habitats. With its network of around 40 biological stations, NRW has competent institutions for this, and the state-wide coordination is carried out by the LANUV. This structure needs better funding. At the same time, we want to strengthen networking with the Center for Biodiversity Monitoring in Bonn.

Climate AND nature conservation – with better participation and planning and clear allocation of space

Nature and species conservation needs climate protection and vice versa. The climate crisis is fueling species extinction and habitat loss; intact ecosystems, in turn, serve as natural CO2 sinks and are more resilient to climate change. NRW can only achieve its climate targets if we speed up the expansion of renewable energies and the mobility revolution. We want to promote this with faster, better and more reliable planning. We want to achieve a planning culture that does not perceive environmental regulation as a shackle and that does not devalue citizens and environmental associations as "planning slowdowns" but values them as providers of ideas. And we are convinced that conflicts between the expansion of climate-necessary infrastructure on the one hand and nature and species conservation on the other are not a law of nature. They can be reconciled through forward-looking, clear and binding guidelines and measures at federal and state level.

  • with a Personnel and junior staff offensive for planning and licensing authorities and the courtswe ensure that procedures become measurably faster. We counteract the shortage of skilled workers in these authorities: with sufficient opportunities for further qualification, new training paths and more financial resources.
  • we create vhe participation of citizens must be binding, early, genuine and continuous for infrastructure projects. We rely on the instrument of citizens’ councils for important fundamental decisions. Decisions on conflicts can be upgraded and accelerated through parliamentary participation. We rely on binding citizen participation according to uniform quality standards and sufficient federal and state funding for participation procedures.
  • We want Upgrading instead of softening environmental impact assessments: Environmental and, in particular, climate compatibility of planning projects must be examined earlier in the process, for example when drawing up the federal transport infrastructure plan. Then individual environmental assessments can also be omitted in the following procedure in the sense of "stratification". We want to give greater recognition to the experience and expertise of nature conservation and environmental associations and regulate their use by contract.
  • Rigid distance regulations for wind energy, such as those of the black-yellow state government, paralyze the energy turnaround and do not pacify conflicting goals. Citizen wind power can be an instrument to resolve conflicts on site. We support priority areas of up to 2 percent of the state’s land area for wind energy and other renewable energies, based on a federal-state-wide requirement planning. In this context, focal occurrences ("density centers") of particularly conflict-prone, wind energy-sensitive species are to be excluded from the priority areas from the outset. Coordinated conservation programs are needed to ensure that the conservation status of the population of the affected species as a whole (i.e., also outside the expansion area) does not deteriorate. Thus, z.B. by strengthening the population in free-standing density centers, the negative impact of individual projects in wind development areas can be compensated for prior to the intervention. In addition, further improvements in planning law and technology are needed to enable the implementation of this basic principle.
  • Repowering of wind power plants must be used to create a certain degree of plant reorganization. Plants that are located at particularly critical sites from the point of view of nature conservation law will be shut down; in return, other plants at less critical sites will be favored.
  • We also want technical solutions to help achieve nature and climate protection together. The role models here are u.a. Real-time monitoring with automatic shutdown for birds of prey or bats in the USA and France
  • We want to anchor solar as a standard in old buildings that are to be renovated in order to reduce the pressure on open spaces by using existing building potentials. The use of solar energy should be combined with green roofs where possible.
  • Intact peatlands and wetlands make a significant contribution to CO2 reduction. We therefore want to significantly improve the water balance of these habitats. Grassland, with its extensive root network, is also an important CO2 reservoir.

We need a forest turnaround!

The effects of the climate crisis are particularly visible in our forests. Rising average temperatures, more storm events and increasingly prolonged dry spells are causing climate permanent stress. Climate protection is therefore also forest protection!

We want to work together with forest owners to make our forests fit for the future again. This requires a forest turnaround toward near-natural forest management and climate-resistant, v.a. naturally developed forests.

Forests are indispensable as CO2 sinks, also to ensure that global warming does not exceed 1.5 degrees. Forests therefore deserve our special protection. Forests are also indispensable for water and drinking water protection, microclimate and air pollution control, for the promotion of biodiversity and as a living and recreational space. Therefore, to receive what sustains us, it needs a strengthening of the Forest Conservation.

  • The current silvicultural concept does not meet the challenges in any way and steers forest owners further into the crisis. We want to replace it with a forest development concept that gives priority to natural forest development instead of extensive reforestation. Leaving dead wood and rewetting drained sites is becoming the norm. This concept will be implemented immediately for state-owned forests and will be the benchmark for the future funding landscape – based on the principle of public money for public goods. In addition, more concepts and support are needed so that forest owners are not left alone in this turnaround. Securing near-natural forest landscapes by strengthening contract nature conservation in the forest is only one possibility here.
  • We support the demand of the People’s Initiative for Species Protection that the state of North Rhine-Westphalia become a pioneer for natural forest development and biodiversity in its state forests. With suitable state programs for municipal and private forest owners, we also provide incentives to remove 10 percent of the state’s total forest area from forestry use by 2030.
  • Many forestry offices and forestry operations are now working successfully along guidelines that aim to build a climate-silient permanent forest. Our goal is to develop these guidelines for "good professional practice" in the forest and to include them in forest legislation and support programs accordingly. This should be accompanied by an assessment of the ecosystem services provided by forests, so that the services provided by forests can be appropriately rewarded.
  • In the course of the climatic changes, there has recently been a comparatively high number of forest fires. In the course of the climate crisis this risk will further increase. Also in terms of forest fire prevention, the forest turnaround towards near-natural as well as species-rich and structurally rich forests must therefore be the goal of North Rhine-Westphalian forest management. To be able to assess and reduce the risk of fire, you also need a Forest fire concept for NRW, which records the forest areas at particular risk and examines the protective measures taken.
  • Drought, drought and the bark beetle infestation have already caused huge bare areas in the forests. We demand sustainable concept, in which the natural regeneration and natural forest development are in the foreground. This must be coordinated accordingly with the ecologists as well as forest experts in NRW. Finally, tree species are now also affected by the climate crisis, which have previously been considered to play a major role with regard to forest restructuring towards greater climate resilience. Therefore it needs these concepts with model character, with whose conversion also the private forest should be included.In order not to repeat the mistakes of the past, alternative tree species should only be used very cautiously and on a very limited proportionate basis. Furthermore, structures have to be created to give qualified advice to forest owners considering the respective site conditions. Education, training and advice on forest ecology and silvicultural issues must be given a higher priority.
  • The Forest Umbau only succeeds with the forest owners together. We want to create suitable support and advisory instruments that will drive forest conversion to nature-based forest management. Forest management communities and forestry associations such as forest cooperatives are very well suited to better tap the potential of small private forest areas and provide forest owners* with technical and economic support
  • For the future it is also necessary to pay more attention to the forest floor. The less the soil is affected by people and heavy equipment, the more resilient and stable the developing forest ecosystem will be. For example, clear-cutting should be avoided.
  • We want to develop measures to ensure that game populations are more closely regulated and adjusted to a level that is compatible with forests.
  • Wood is a valuable raw material. Unlike many other building and other materials that we use, wood grows again. At the same time, wood can bind CO2 for decades and thus contribute to climate protection. That’s why we want to use wood from our local forests as a building material in the future. Public buildings can take on a pioneering role and be built increasingly from hardwood and softwood instead of gravel and cement. We want to set appropriate incentives here and also provide greater support for research into the use of wood in the construction industry.
  • The burning of the valuable raw material wood in power plants must be avoided.

Clean air to breathe

Clean air to breathe is the basis for our health. However, in many places our air actually contains more nitrogen oxides, greenhouse gases or particulate matter than is acceptable for health and permitted by law. Clean air is not least a question of social justice – because many people simply cannot change the fact that they live on a busy road or near ammonia-polluted livestock farms for financial reasons. Every year in Germany alone, more than 70.000 people die prematurely from the health consequences of air pollution. Science is clear: people who are constantly exposed to air pollution are particularly susceptible to severe respiratory diseases due to the strain on the respiratory tract and blood vessels.An increasing number of studies also show that people who suffer from poor air quality on a daily basis suffer more severely from covid-19 and thus have a higher risk of dying from it..

We know where the dirty air comes from: traffic, industrial agriculture and coal-fired power plants are among the main sources of harmful emissions – and there are ways to reduce these emissions. For us GREENS it is clear: Health for humans and nature has priority. Exceeding limits is no trivial matter, but requires us to take countermeasures – because we have the means to do so:

  • We are committed to pollution-free, emission-free trafficPrioritize buses, trains, pedestrians and cyclists. We create a mobility guarantee for every village and focus on shared and low-emission mobility. At the federal level, we continue to advocate for 120 km/h, retrofitting of diesel hardware, the blue badge, and the end of the internal combustion engine. We counteract air pollution with more urban greenery and less sealed surfaces.
  • We reduce theemissions from intensive agriculture, by strengthening rural agriculture and making it more compatible with nature. We want a fertilizer ordinance that ensures the protection of water, soil and air and ensure that the fertilizer law is enforced consistently. We will enforce the retrofitting of filter technology in large barns and oppose the construction of further oversized fattening facilities. In the medium term, we will reduce the number of livestock to a maximum of 2 livestock units per hectare, which is compatible with the environment and animals.
  • We are focusing on a rapid Phase out coal by 2030 at the latest and expand zero-emission renewables. A faster shutdown of coal-fired power plants in NRW is not only necessary for climate protection reasons – they also emit mercury and other substances that are harmful to health. Until the last coal-fired power plants are taken off the grid, we will continue to work to make full use of the technical possibilities offered by filter systems. Germany currently has completely inadequate limits for mercury emissions compared to the rest of the EU and is thus squandering the opportunity to become a technology leader in environmental engineering.
  • We still know too little about the actual pollution where people live. Therefore, we demand more measuring points and more frequent measurements in the direct vicinity of residential areas. In order to record the actual pollution caused by air traffic and shipping, we are setting up a program for stronger monitoring at ports and airports, which will closely monitor pollution from highly hazardous ultrafine dusts in particular. Pilot studies, also at airports in NRW, show that exposure to ultrafine dusts, which unlike the fine dusts systematically measured to date (PM2.5, PM10) penetrate into the deepest regions of the lungs is systematically underestimated. We want to make clear the connections between environment, health and social situation. To this end, we are striving for holistic reporting that combines existing reports in these three areas and serves as an aid to local authorities in their decision-making processes.

Green plan against noise

Noise creates stress and makes people ill in the long term. 1.4 million. People in NRW are exposed to noise that is harmful to their health. The main source of noise in NRW is traffic. Quieter is also possible. For all its limitations, the Corona Lockdown has briefly shown us how livable a world with much less traffic noise can be.

  • Noise can be reduced quickly and effectively by Speed limits reduce. We urge the state government to initiate and support a speed limit in the federal government and to start corresponding model tests on highways in NRW until they are introduced nationwide. We advocate for a speed limit of 30 km/h in built-up areas and 80 km/h on rural roads to protect residents
  • We demand clear noise limits for cars and motorcycles. violations must be punished and fined effectively.
  • New construction and expansion of highways and federal roads is still planned in the federal traffic route plan – the result would be even more noise. We want Climate moratorium for these projects, which will also mean more noise in the future.
  • Noise protection is a right to which all citizens are entitled. That is why we grant residents living near existing roads and railroads the same entitlement as citizens living near new railroad lines.
  • We reduce aircraft noiseThe louder the aircraft, the higher the airport fee. This will provide incentives for low-noise technologies. We are pushing for stricter handling of the existing night time limits and bans on night flights. We do not want any newly permitted nighttime cargo and passenger flights. No further expansion of any NRW airport is necessary in terms of traffic policy or justifiable in terms of climate policy. We will promote alternatives to flying and reject public subsidies for uneconomical airports.

Good light for people and nature

In our cities and villages, it no longer gets really dark at night.This light pollution is not only a problem for our healthy sleep, but also for biodiversity. With the loss of darkness, nocturnal animals lose their habitat. We will ensure that outdoor lighting is designed to provide the necessary protection and minimize negative impacts from people and the environment.

Clean water is life

Clean and abundant water is the basis of all life on earth. The challenges for residue-free and uncontaminated water in the densely populated state of North Rhine-Westphalia are great. In addition, there is the strong industrial as well as agricultural use, which has long been reflected in our waters. For us, it is a top priority to better protect our number one foodstuff.

In addition to the challenge of protecting water bodies from discharges and thus ensuring high quality, the effects of the climate crisis are also increasingly being felt. The recent heatwave summers have shown the consequences that extreme, prolonged dry periods can have on water bodies in NRW. We GREENS want a "Future Water Strategy. This will allow us to determine water availabilities and better respond to the effects of climatic changes. Measures for the distribution of water resources should also be laid down here.

  • One of the greatest burdens on our drinking water is still the high level of nitrate pollution, but the use of pesticides also affects our waters. Every meter more Watercourse margins is a gain to protect water bodies more effectively from these inputs of fertilizers, pesticides and co. to protect. A reduction in fertilizers can restore the natural balance and self-purification capacity of our water bodies.
  • In addition to the more widely used mineral fertilizers, fertilizers of animal origin in the form of slurry from strawless farming systems are particularly dominant today. Nitrogen from mineral fertilizers and liquid manure is easily soluble and migrates more quickly into groundwater than the nitrogen contained in solid manure. For us Greens, animal welfare and water protection go together at this point, because only species-appropriate animal husbandry is also nature-friendly animal husbandry. Therefore farmers to be supported more strongly in protecting water and the environment and thus sustainable forms of land use and animal husbandry can be promoted.
  • We demand consistent application of the precautionary principle and producer responsibility for the entire inflow of products. Pollutants are to be avoided in production and, where technically and economically feasible, replaced by less harmful substances or processes. The input of pollutants into wastewater must be prevented at the respective source, if this is ecologically and macroeconomically justifiable. Subsequent removal from municipal wastewater is often, though not always, more complex, costly and generally not comprehensively possible. The release of environmentally harmful substances from products must also be prevented as far as possible – ideally by dispensing with such substances. The costs already incurred in the treatment of wastewater and drinking water have so far been passed on in full to the general public of wastewater producers and drinking water users. This is unfair and does not provide an incentive to reduce pollutants. Therefore, the costs must be allocated to the respective polluters in a suitable and socially acceptable manner in order to create incentives for avoidance. In addition, the existing possibilities of chemicals legislation should be exhausted and the use of substances of very high concern should be phased out
  • In addition, concrete Prevention strategy to reduce the input of pharmaceuticals and other micro pollutants. Due to the increasing per capita consumption of medicines, an increase of Pharmaceutical residues in wastewater over the next few years. Industrial chemicals and other micro-pollutants can only be reduced in the long term through chemical legislation. In order to protect our waters and soils as a habitat and drinking water resource today, an improvement in sewage treatment technology and the necessary funding for this must be ensured. As a basis for developing a strategy for better protection against multi-resistant germs, the existing monitoring programs must be expanded accordingly.
  • In recent years, knowledge about the presence of a wide variety of microparticles in our waters has increased. The occurrence of Microplastics The pollution of our water bodies by the substances contained in them or bound to them has an impact on humans and the environment, but has not yet been researched in detail. Risks to the environment and living organisms must therefore be given greater consideration, for example in the production of car tires and plastic textiles. We want to consistently enforce existing chemical law options for restricting problematic substances and prevent the targeted spread of microplastics, z. B. in cosmetics, personal care products or cleaning agents should be prohibited.
  • The black-yellow state government has amended the State Water Act (LWG NRW) and thus set back water protection by years. The overriding of the ban on excavation in water protection areas alone contributes to a massive undermining of water protection. Where it says water protection area on it, water protection must also be in it. To protect our waters and soils, we need a sustainable resource policy in NRW.

Let rivers flow more naturally

  • We want to unleash the waters in NRW. At present, many thousands of transverse structures, weirs and thresholds are blocking rivers and streams in NRW. The unnatural backwater areas behind many of these structures heat up, sediment and silt are deposited, climate-damaging methane is produced, biodiversity and habitat are lost. Fish and other aquatic animals are prevented from migrating and are sometimes injured or even killed.
  • In order to bring hydropower use into line with the requirements of the Water Framework Directive, small hydropower plants in particular must be further developed under ecological aspects. Fish- and stream-friendly hydropower plants should be preferred and can contribute to stream improvement while also contributing to electricity generation.
  • The implementation of the European Water Framework Directive must be completed as soon as possible. Living, continuous and near-natural flowing waters and their floodplains form important habitats for various species and therefore make an irreplaceable contribution to the preservation of biodiversity. But also in terms of ecological flood protection and the increase in heavy rainfall events caused by the climate crisis, the goal of near-natural watercourse development must be anchored more strongly than before in regional and urban land use planning.
  • The climate crisis is forcing us to change the way we deal with water. The drought years 2018-2020 and even more so the extreme flooding in July 2021 have shown this urgently. A comprehensive reassessment of water management frameworks and regulatory frameworks at all levels is required. Conflicts over the use of water are already increasing, and the drying up of wet habitats is exacerbating the extinction of species. Instead of further drying out the landscape, we need to store water in the landscape. This can be achieved if we renaturalize moors, floodplain forests and wet meadows, seal less land, reduce the drainage of agricultural land and increase the storage capacity of the soil, for example through a forest turnaround. Due to the climate crisis, floods such as those seen in the summer of 2021 will become more frequent and more severe. We need to give water bodies more space and promote this by developing natural retention areas.

Education for sustainable development

We want to win over a broad majority of the population for the internationally agreed sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the steps necessary for their implementation. This requires the consistent implementation and structural anchoring of education for sustainable development (ESD) along the entire education chain. One of the prerequisites for the necessary socio-ecological transformation of society is to reach people of all ages and from all social milieus and to empower them to shape it.

  • ESD must be integrated throughout the entire educational chain, from daycare centers. Schools, extracurricular education, universities up to further education must be strengthened throughout: The goals of ESD must be more firmly anchored in the didactic concepts of the institutions and among those responsible for education and educational actors, as well as in the training and continuing education of pedagogical staff. The present guideline must be implemented consistently, especially in the school sector.
  • ESD must be made a mandatory pillar of the Regional education networks be made.
  • The Funds for extracurricular cooperation partners in the area of ESD are to be increased significantly. The number of regional centers in the ESD state network is to be increased, and more projects, networks and community activities are to be promoted.

The end of waste

A healthy environment and nature can only exist if our economy does not know only one direction, from factory to landfill. An economy within planetary boundaries is a circular economy, where resources are recycled back into new products instead of being left unused or burned as waste. A circular economy that is anchored regionally wherever possible conserves natural resources, protects the climate and reduces the pollution of soil, air and water by contaminated sites and pollutants. In a circular economy, products from bottles to cell phones to buildings are durable, repairable, pollutant-free, reusable and easily recyclable.

  • In NRW, many companies are already setting themselves on the path to a circular economy. We GREENS support the conversion to a circular economy with funds from the state and from European funding pots.We also want to strengthen the Basic and applied research on the circular economy, u.a. by a NRW research institute for plastics recycling and a NRW pact for battery recycling and recycled building materials. Our goal is for NRW to become a pioneer in the circular economy, just as coal and steel once made the state the industrial heartland of the continent.
  • The resource-intensive construction industry in particular must become a model for the circular economy. In the GREEN building turnaround, closed and toxin-free material cycles become the guiding principle, recycled materials from concrete to plastics become the norm. Wherever possible, buildings are constructed with recycled materials and wood, which binds CO2 from the atmosphere in the long term.
  • We call for a Resource building certificate, that makes it transparent with which materials were built and how they can be reused at the end of the building’s life.
  • In the transition to a circular economy should The state-owned companies must be both role models and drivers of innovation. Through binding target agreements on circular economy for the company and quotas z.B. for recycled materials and timber construction in existing and new buildings, we want to light up beacons of the circular economy and the building turnaround all over NRW. In public buildings, we write z.B. the use of wood and recycled concrete before, wherever possible.
  • Far too much biowaste still ends up in the residual waste garbage can and is then incinerated. It’s a huge waste of resources. The obligation to collect biowaste separately must finally be implemented consistently. We want the free bio garbage can to become the standard everywhere in NRW.

Strengthening voluntary work

Nature conservation and environmental protection in North Rhine-Westphalia is supported to a large extent by volunteers – whether in educational programs, waste collection campaigns, bird counts, demonstrations or popular initiatives. Many engaged supplement and replace services of public agencies. These volunteers deserve to have their work appreciated by the public, to be supported pragmatically and quickly, and to have their expertise included in decision-making. We also want to increase the honorary allowance and ensure that volunteers can apply for funding without high administrative costs.

A strong and modern administration for environmental protection and nature conservation

A sustainable North Rhine-Westphalia is only possible if the protection of natural resources is ensured and further development is sustainable in ecological, economic and social terms. It must be clear that European, federal and state law applies and is applied consistently. Because this right protects legitimate interests of people, the environment and the economy. The environmental administration in North Rhine-Westphalia makes an important contribution to protecting the natural foundations of life, maintaining public infrastructure and, last but not least, safeguarding North Rhine-Westphalia as an industrial and business location. It is elementary component of the services of general interest. A modern and effective environmental administration is crucial to ensure and manage this.

Providing advice and procedural support to project sponsors, applicants, associations and politicians is an important element of modern administration. In doing so, it must live up to its role as an independent advocate for the environment.

We consider the structure of the North Rhine-Westphalian environmental administration to be viable in its basic features, although there is a need for optimization in various places:

  • Cooperation between the state and local levels must be further improved. A common understanding as "environmental administration NRW is an important prerequisite for the implementation of environmental policy goals in law enforcement.
  • At all three levels of environmental administration, the following will become mandatory independent environmental complaint boards set up for internal and external notices of grievances in nature conservation and environmental protection (Green Phones).
  • In NRW – as in all the federal states – the environmental sector is one of the areas of the state administration that is of little significance in terms of staff numbers. Via comprehensible keys for staffing levels needs to be determined for the individual authorities and the necessary budgetary resources to establish adequately staffed positions must be made available.
  • Through Innovative forms of personnel recruitment We ensure that the public sector does not fall further behind in the competition with industry for skilled workers. A public relations campaign is to contribute to this by presenting the requirements, significance and self-image of the environmental administration. We will maintain existing career training programs and set up a career training program specifically for nature conservation. In addition, we want to create opportunities for dual training. It must continue to be possible to acquire the professional qualifications required for the performance of tasks in environmental administration at our universities.
  • The possibilities of digitalization must be consistently exploited to increase efficiency, data transparency and cost-effectiveness. Thereby must nationally applicable standards apply.
  • Especially in technical environmental protection and nature conservation, a interdisciplinary cooperation within and between authorities, both in terms of permits and monitoring essential. This leads to better quality results and more efficient use of resources not only by the authorities but also by commercial enterprises.
  • Cooperation between environmental and law enforcement agencies must be strengthened. In the Ministry of the Environment we Environmental Crime Unit and equip it financially and in terms of personnel so that it can effectively uncover and prosecute environmental crime.

Published on 22. August 2021.

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