Summary of the session
The session was chaired by Mr. Bedrich Moldan (Czech Republic), former Environment Minister. The overall theme of the session was environmental policy integration, organized into three blocks. The objective of the round table was to have an informal and frank discussion between environmental citizens’ organizations (ECOs) and Ministers at the Kiev Conference.
During the first block of the round table, “Letting the market work for the environment,” the following speakers made presentations: Mr. John Hontelez, Secretary-General of the European Environmental Bureau, ECO; Mrs. Argyro Alampei (Greece), Mediterranean Information Office, ECO, on behalf of Mr. Yannis Palleocrassas (Greece), Elliniki Etairia, ECO; Mr. Bill Stow, (United Kingdom), Director-General, Environment Protection, Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs; Mr. Andrej Kassenberg (Poland), Institute for Sustainable Development, ECO; Mr. Shevchuk, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine; and Mr. Børge Brende (Norway), Minister of Environment.
The second block of discussion focused on agriculture as an example of sectoral policy integration. The speakers were: Mr. David Baldock (United Kingdom), Institute for European Environmental Policy, ECO; Mr. Pröll (Austria), Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management; Ms. Chkhobadze (Georgia), Minister for Environment and Natural Resource Protection; Ms. Svetla Nikolova (Bulgaria), Agrolink, ECO; and Mr. Fikret Jafarov (Azerbaijan), Institute for Sustainable Development, ECO.
The third discussion block focused on how to overcome institutional weaknesses that prevent environmental policy integration. The speakers for the third block were: Mr. Gennadiy Marushevsky (Ukraine), Head of the Organizational Committee of Ukrainian Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations on Public Forum Preparation, ECO; Mr. Laszlo Miklos (Slovakia), Minister of Environment; Mr. Bart Martens (Belgium), Bond Beter Leefmilieu Vlaanderen, ECO; Ms. Sommestad (Sweden), Minister for Environment; and Ms. Vesna Smaka Kincl (Slovenia), Municipality of Maribor and Environmental Protection Agency.
Among other issues, integrating environmental criteria in fiscal policy and the use of ecofunds in countries with economies in transition were discussed. Speakers stressed the importance of consumer choice for good market integration and confirmed that there was no consumer freedom without the right to know. Eco-labels, certification and standards were key tools for making the market work for the environment. Participants were of the view that environmental policy integration was crucial for the agricultural sector, which affected essentially land use, erosion, salinization, desertification, landscape and biodiversity. It was agreed that organic farming should be promoted and the rational use of water recognized as a priority for the region. Participants called on all stakeholders, including governments, to work closely together to promote environmental policy integration.
A number of delegates from ECOs and governments took the floor. The discussion noted several key issues that should be further developed in order to facilitate environmental policy integration. These were changes in lifestyles, democracy, transparency and public participation in environmental decision-making, as well as increased support to and cooperation with NGOs. They concluded that there was need for stronger market integration and more effective sectoral integration. NGOs stressed that governments had to implement concrete and efficient follow-up to their plans and strategies for sustainable development, otherwise, they would disappoint the public and ECOs.