The most recent joint event organized by Europe Direct Szeged, EPLO (European Public Law Organization), and IRSI (International and Regional Studies Institute) took place on March 25 at Szent-Györgyi Albert Agóra in Szeged. The event was implemented within the programs of the Ministy of Justice aiming at raising the standards of legal training.
The conference’s title was “Taking stock of environmental goals – accomplishments and expected trends in the face of adversity,” and it included five special presentations moderated by Dr. Orsolya Johanna Sziebig PhD adjunct from the University of Szeged, Faculty of Law and Political Sciences, Department of International and European Law.
Dr. Zoltán Szurovecz, Head of the Pest County Government Office's Environmental Enforcement Department, gave the first presentation, titled “Environmental permitting systems caught in a crossfire between efficiency and transparency.” Dr. Szurovecz reflected on the efficacy of environmental permitting systems and emphasized the need of governments cooperating closely. He also stressed the need of speed, precision, and community participation in environmental permitting.
Dr. Gábor Kecskés PhD docent from the Faculty of Law at the University of Győr was the second presenter, and he delivered a lecture called “Let’s get our act together! Implementation and enforceability of international environmental obligations.” According to Dr. Kecskés, the younger generation has a critical responsibility to play in this respect. Furthermore, he suggested that we may be able to learn from the growing number of ongoing climate change lawsuits and that environmental awareness may provide a competitive advantage due to rising public demand.
The third topic was given by Dr. Zoltán Alföldi, PhD docent from the Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and was titled “What role may ethics play in ensuring effective environmental protection?” Dr. Alföldi emphasized the need of environmental protection since the ultimate value is life, and all life, from the smallest to the greatest, is a part of that. He hopes that future generations will be able to witness the wonders of nature. Furthermore, he believes that, while patriotism is commonly exhibited in the protection of the nation, environmental conservation must also be embraced.
Dr. Erika Farkas Csamangó PhD adjunct from the University of Szeged Faculty of Law and Political Sciences Institute of Business Law gave the following presentation, titled “Efforts by the EU and national governments to minimize single-use plastic waste.” She emphasized that, sadly, single-use plastics will outlive us, thus it is necessary to replace them with ecologically preferable alternatives. She went on to explain that during COVID-19, there was a significant increase in the number of online purchases, and therefore in the amount of disposable waste, not to mention disposable masks.
Finally, lieutenant colonel Dr. Csaba Zsigmond delivered a presentation titled “Environmental crime as a form of international organized crime.” He explained many subcategories of environmental crimes, such as illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, forest and wildlife crimes, and how the best way to battle them is to impose more severe punishments, and how coordination between nations is essential so that they can work together in a synchronized approach.
The extensive set of lectures was followed by audience questions, such as how we know COVID-19 had a significant effect on carbon dioxide reduction, or what impact the ongoing conflict in Ukraine may have on the environmental goals that have been established, as well as how we can combat greenwashing. Finally, the conference wrapped on a pleasant and upbeat note, indicating that environmental initiatives can and do make results.