The fifth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) took place in Maastricht, the Netherlands, from 30 June 2014 to 2 July 2014, at the kind invitation of the Government of the Netherlands. The meeting venue was the Maastricht Exhibition and Conference Centre (MECC). The fifth session was held back to back with the second session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (Protocol on PRTRs) (3-4 July 2014) and the joint High-level Segment of the two Meetings (2 July 2014).
The event provided a platform for Parties, Signatories, international organizations, civil society and other stakeholders to discuss achievements and challenges in promoting a wide range of topics, including access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters.
As the international community embarks on charting the way for an ambitious post 2015 development agenda with new Sustainable Development Goals, the Convention and its Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers already provide an essential framework for Governments to effectively engage different stakeholders in decision-making, thereby offering solutions to truly sustainable governance.
At the session the Parties discussed global promotion of the Convention and agreed on a number of decisions to guide their implementation in the next intersessional period, including future strategic plan and work programme.
In the same meeting venue, the fifth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention was preceded by:
The fifth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) took place in the MECC Centre, Maastricht, Netherlands from 30 June 2014 to 2 July 2014, at the kind invitation of the Government of the Netherlands.
The fifth session of the Meeting of the Parties provided a platform for Parties, Signatories, international organizations, civil society and other stakeholders, to reaffirm their commitment to further promote environmental democracy in the UNECE region and beyond. Participants addressed a wide range of topics and adopted important decisions regarding the key areas of work including access to justice, access to information and public participation in decision-making as well as in international forums.
All documents may be accessed through this webpage. They include documents and decisions adopted by the Meeting of the Parties, background documents prepared in advance of the meeting and relevant intersessional documents.
For the list of participants of the meeting, please click here.
The Maastricht Declaration was adopted at the Joint High-level Segment of the fifth session of the Aarhus Convention and its Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer registers (2 July 2014). For more information on the High-level Segment, on the Declaration and to read the statement of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered at the Joint High-level Segment click here
Maastricht Declaration: regional contribution to a people-centred post-2015 development agenda.
The Maastricht Declaration adopted at the Joint High-level Segment of the fifth session of the Aarhus Convention and its Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer registers (2 July 2014) added an important building block in the Parties’ efforts to promote environmental democracy in view of the post-2015 development agenda. Through the Declaration, Parties to the two treaties sent a clear message for greater transparency, the protection of environmental activists and whistle-blowers, adequate product information and the use of social media.
While welcoming the initiative on developing a regional instrument on environmental rights in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the establishment of PRTR systems around the globe, Parties encouraged similar initiatives intending to replicate the achievements of the Aarhus Convention and its Protocol and declared their readiness to support these initiatives.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the importance of the Aarhus Convention and its Protocol on PRTRs in empowering people with the right to a healthy and favourable environment. The Secretary-General welcomed “the use of modern communication tools to enhance transparency and environmental democracy for all”. For the full statement, click here.
Furthering implementation of the Convention
The Meeting agreed on a number of decisions, including the future work programme to guide the activities in the next intersessional period. In adopting the Convention’s work programme for 2015–2017, the Republic of Moldova offered to continue leading the Task Force on Access to Information as did Sweden for the Task Force on Access to Justice, France for the promotion of the principles of the Convention in international forums and Austria for GMOs. Italy offered to lead the Task Force on public participation in decision-making for the next intersessional period.
Monitoring Parties’ compliance
The Meeting also adopted decisions on specific cases of non-compliance concerning Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, European Union, Germany, Kazakhstan, Romania, Spain, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, as well as a decision on general issues of compliance. To date, all findings by the Committee have been endorsed by the Meeting of the Parties and all Parties concerned demonstrated their consent with the decisions.
In accordance with the procedure set out in decision I/7 on the review of compliance (ENG, FRE, RUS), in conjunction with decision I/1 on Rules of Procedure (ENG, FRE, RUS), the Meeting of the Parties re-elected by consensus the following members of the Compliance Committee: Mr. Jonas Ebbesson, (nominated by Sweden), Mr. Alexander Kodzhabashev, (nominated by BlueLink.net/Blue Link Foundation (NGO)), Ms. Dana Zhandayeva, (nominated by Civil Society Development Organization (ARGO) and European ECO-Forum (NGOs)); and elected by consensus Ms. Elena Fasoli, (nominated by Italy) and Mr. Alistair McGlone, (nominated by United Kingdom and Ireland) as new members of the Compliance Committee.
For more detailed information about the process to elect the members of the Compliance Committee please consult the note on the membership of the Compliance Committee for the sixteenth meeting of the Working Group of the Parties (Geneva, 19-21 June 2013) (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2013/11, ENG, FRE, RUS).
The Meeting of the Parties elects the members of the Committee by consensus, or failing consensus, by secret ballot. The Committee elects its own Chair and Vice-Chair at the next Committee’s meeting after the fifth session of the Meeting of the Parties.
The Meeting of the Parties elected the following members of its Bureau:
Ms Nino Sharashidze (Georgia)
Ms. Beate Berglund Ekeberg (Norway)
Mr. Lukas Pokorny (Czech Republic)
Mr. Edwin Koning (Netherlands)
Mr. Adrian Panciuc (Republic of Moldova)
Ms. Gordana Petkovic (Serbia)
Mr. Philippe Ramet (France)
In accordance with rule 22 of the rules of procedure, non-governmental organizations appointed Mr. Jeremy Wates (European ECO Forum and European Environmental Bureau) as the representative of NGOs to attend meetings of the Bureau.