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Public Participation in International Forums

Promoting public participation in international forums 

Parties to the Convention have an obligation to promote the principles of the Convention in international organizations and international processes relating to the environment. For example, prior to taking part in international negotiations and events, each Party should inform the public and seek its input on the issues to be discussed. Parties should also push for greater openness and transparency in international negotiations on environmental matters, with opportunities for the public to be heard on the issues on the table. After an international event is over, they should inform the public of its outcomes and make sure that they involve the public when implementing those outcomes. Thematic sessions on public participation in international forums are held under the Convention to assist Parties in implementing their obligation.  Ongoing advisory assistance is also provided to interested international forums to support them in making their procedures more open and participatory.

Article 3.7 and the Almaty Guidelines

While the Aarhus Convention primarily addresses issues at the national level, its Parties have committed themselves, through article 3, paragraph 7, of the Convention, to promote the application of the principles of the Convention in international environmental decision-making processes and within the framework of international organizations in matters relating to the environment.

The work of the Working Group of the Parties on promoting the application of the principles of the Convention in international forums is guided by decision V/4 (ENG, FRE, RUS), adopted by the Meeting of the Parties at its fifth session (Maastricht, Netherlands 30 June-1 July 2014). This area of work is led by France.

At their second meeting (Almaty, 25-27 May 2005), the Parties adopted, through decision II/4 (ENG FRE RUS), a set of guidelines on promoting the principles of access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in international forums dealing with matters relating to the environment. The primary purpose of these guidelines, known as the "Almaty Guidelines", is to provide general guidance to Aarhus Parties. They may also be of wider interest to those involved in forums that deal with environmental matters.

In the same decision, the Parties established a Task Force on Public Participation in International Forums to enter into consultations with international forums with respect to the Guidelines. Further information about the Task Force is available below.  

At their fourth meeting (Chisinau, 29 June-1 July 2011), the Parties adopted decision IV/3 (ENG FRE RUS) on promoting the principles of the Convention in international forums. In that decision, Parties agreed that significant work still remained to be done to implement article 3, paragraph 7 of the Convention and to continue the work on promoting the application of the principles of the Convention in international forums directly under the authority of the Working Group of the Parties.

At their sixth session (Budva, Montenegro, 11-14 September 2017), the Parties adopted decision VI/4 on promoting the application of the principles of the Convention in international forums (ENG FRE RUS). They recognized the valuable work that has been done to implement article 3, paragraph 7, of the Convention, while acknowledging the considerable challenges that still need to be addressed to fully implement this provision.

 

Other links and documents

Compendium of case studies of good practice on promoting public participation in international forums

Public Participation in International Forums. A Snapshot on the Almaty Guidelines
ENG
FRE RUS

International workshop on involving the public in international forums