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AARHUS CONVENTION

Convention on Access to Information,
Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice
in Environmental Matters
Introduction
Task Force on Public Participation in International Forums
Consultation process
International workshop on involving the public in international forums
Background
Other related documents
Compendium of case studies of good practice on promoting public participation in international forums
Public Participation in International Forums   

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.

At their second meeting (Almaty, Kazakhstan, May 2005), the Parties adopted a set of guidelines (PDF ENG FRE RUS 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.

At their second meeting, the Parties established a Task Force to consult with international forums regarding the Almaty Guidelines. The consultation process was conducted over a thirteen-month period from June 2006 to July 2007. Further information about the consultation process and its outcomes is available here.

At their third meeting (Riga, 11-13 June 2008), the Parties adopted a decision (PDF ENG FRE RUS) welcoming the work of the Task Force to date and renewing its mandate for a further three years.

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Task Force on Public Participation in International Forums  

The Task Force, led by France, has to date met six times: 23-24 February 2011, 29 June 2010, 6 July 2009, 8-9 November 2007, 9-10 November 2006 and 24-25 November 2005. Documents and presentations from the Task Force's meetings and workshops may be found below:

 

Documents of the sixth meeting of the Task Force and workshop, 23-24 February 2011

Provisional agenda for meeting PDF ENG - -
Report of the meeting PDF ENG   RUS
Provisional agenda for workshop PDF ENG - -
Excerpt from the Chair's summary of the workshop PDF ENG - -
Synthesis report on ways to enhance the engagement of observer
organizations
PDF ENG - -
Objective and Themes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development PDF ENG - -
Concept Note Supporting National Preparations for UNCSD PDF ENG - -
Innovations in Public Participation in International Forums. doc ENG - -
Synthesis Report on Best Practices and Lessons Learned on the Objective and Themes of the Conference PDF ENG - -
List of participants doc ENG - -


Presentations from the workshop on "Making Aarhus work in international forums", 23-24 February 2011

Bankwatch speaking notes on IFIs DOC ENG - -
EBRD PPT ENG - -
Lessons from EU funds on promoting compliance PPT ENG - -
NGO observations on UNFCCC processes PPT ENG - -
PPIF in the ESPOO Convention PPT ENG - -
PPIF in the Industrial Accidents Convention PPT ENG - -
UNECE Conventions in Armenia PPT ENG - -
Experience with IFI's in Georgia PPT ENG    
UNFCCC PPT ENG    
WECF- Rio + 20 PPT ENG - -

 

Documents of the fifth meeting of the Task Force and workshop, 29 June 2010

Provisional Agenda for meeting PDF ENG - -
Report PDF ENG FRE RUS
Provisional Agenda for workshop PDF ENG - -
Chair's proposal for an adequate means of reporting on article 3, paragraph 7 PDF ENG - -
Chair's proposal for workshop with international forums, 2011 PDF ENG - -
List of participants   - - -

 

Presentations from the workshop on "Experiences of promoting the application of the principles of the Aarhus Convention in international forums", 29 June 2010

Promoting access to information and public participation regarding international forums at the national level        
Aida Iskoyan, Ministry of Nature Protection, Armenia PPT ENG - -
Heghine Hakhverdyan, "Environmental Public Advocacy Centre" NGO, Armenia PPT ENG - -
Senad Oprasic, Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, Bosnia and Herzegovina PPT ENG - -
Tamara Malkova, International Charity Organisation "Green Dossier", Ukraine PDF - - RUS
Lydia Astanina, "Greenwomen" Analytical Environmental Agency, Kazakhstan PDF - - RUS
Internal coordination within and between government ministries        
Thomas Alge, Oekobuero, Austria PPT ENG - -
Promoting the principles of the Aarhus Convention in the lead up to, during and after the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009, Copenhagen        
Amalia Hambartsumyan, “Khazer” Ecological and Cultural, Armenia PPT - - RUS
Olga Podosonova, Ural Ecological Union, Russian Federation PPT ENG - -
Philippe Ramet, Ministère de l’Ecologie, France PPT ENG - -
Magreete Wewerinke, Nord Sud XXI, Switzerland PPT ENG - -
Sebastien Duyck, Youth Focal Point to the UNFCCC secretariat, Finland PPT ENG - -
Anke Stock, Women in Europe for a Common Future, Germany PPT ENG - -
Promoting the principles of the Convention in the processes of and substantive outputs of other international forums        
Andriy Andrusevich, Resource & Analysis Center "Society and Environment," Ukraine
European Neighbourhood Project
PPT ENG - -
Ilya Trombitsky, ECO-TIRAS International Environmental Association of River Keepers, Republic of Moldova - Public participation in transboundary management of Dniester River PPT ENG - -
Anke Stock, Women in Europe for a Common Future, Germany
Water and Health Protocol, Commission on Sustainable Development
PPT ENG - -
George Paresishvili, The Greens Movement of Georgia
State projects funded by international organizations  
PPT ENG - -
Yves Lador, Earthjustice, Switzerland - United Nations human rights bodies PPT ENG - -

 

Documents of the fourth meeting of the Task Force, 6 July 2009

Provisional Agenda PDF ENG - -
Report of the fourth meeting PDF ENG FRE RUS
Analysis of the reporting on article 3, paragraph 7 in the 2008 national implementation reports PDF ENG - -
Outline proposal for workshop PDF ENG - -
Draft terms of reference for developing appropriate means of reporting on article 3, paragraph 7 PDF ENG - -
Outline proposal for future outreach to interested international forums PDF ENG - -
Presentation by Belarus   - - RUS
Presentation by France   - FRE -
Presentation by Kyrgyzstan   - - RUS
List of participants PDF ENG - -

 

Documents of the third meeting of the Task Force, 8-9 November 2007

Provisional Agenda PDF ENG - -
Report of the third meeting PDF ENG - -
Report of workshop, including Chairs' Summary PDF ENG FRE RUS
Chairs' paper on future options PDF ENG - -
Synthesis of comments received on experiences regarding the application of the Almaty Guidelines PDF ENG - -
Comments received on experiences regarding the application of the Almaty Guidelines: PDF      
France PDF ENG - -
Status report on PPIF practices in France PDF ENG - -
Status report on PPIF practices in France - annex PDF ENG - -
Denmark PDF ENG - -
Germany PDF ENG - -
ANPED PDF ENG - -
Eco-TIRAS PDF ENG - -
European ECO-Forum PDF ENG - -
International Center for Environmental Research PDF ENG - -
Law and Environment Eurasia Partnership PDF ENG - -
NGO-BIOS PDF ENG - -
List of participants PDF ENG - -
 
Documents of the second meeting of the Task Force, 9-10 November 2006
Provisional Agenda PDF ENG - -
Report PDF ENG FRE RUS
Report: Corrigendum PDF ENG    
Chair's paper on further steps in implementation of the work plan PDF ENG - -
Synthesis of responses received from international forums to the written questionnaire in the consultation process on the Almaty Guidelines PDF ENG - -
Statistics on the consultation process as at 9 November 2006 PDF ENG - -
Table of Category 1 & 2 forums' responses received as at 9 November 2006 PDF ENG - -
Table of Category 3 forums' responses received as at 9 November 2006 PDF ENG - -
List of participants doc ENG    
 
Documents of the first meeting of the Task Force, 24-25 November 2005
Provisional Agenda DOC ENG - -
Report PDF ENG FRE RUS
Draft work plan prepared by the Task Force PDF ENG - -
Draft list of international forums prepared by the Task Force PDF ENG - -
Preliminary draft work plan prepared by the Chair PDF ENG - -
Preliminary draft list of international forums prepared by the Chair PDF ENG - -
List of participants DOC ENG - -
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Consultation process  

In undertaking the consultation process, Parties to the Aarhus Convention hoped to obtain the views of other international forums on the Almaty Guidelines and also to learn from their experiences in the area of access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters.

The initial focus of the consultation process was a written questionnaire. The questionnaire was organised around five broad, open-ended questions designed to allow representatives of forums, including their stakeholders, to provide comments on the Guidelines and to share relevant experiences. The deadline for responses to the questionnaire was 17th September 2006.

The results from the consultation process will be used to provide Parties to the Aarhus Convention with further guidance in implementing their obligation to promote the application of the principles of the Aarhus Convention in international forums and to assist them in reviewing the Guidelines if appropriate.

Responses received from the international forums and other relevant correspondence are available here. A synthesis of the responses, including more detailed addenda, has been prepared by the Aarhus Convention secretariat and is available here.

Anyone wishing to make comments on the consultation process itself is welcome to send these to the Aarhus secretariat at public.participation@unece.org.

Documents from the consultation process
Written questionnaire DOC ENG - -
Work Plan of the Task Force on Public Participation in International Forums (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2006/2/Add.1) PDF ENG FRE RUS
List of international forums invited to take part in the consultation process (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2006/2/Add.2) PDF ENG FRE RUS
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International workshop on involving the public in international forums  

Following the outcome of the initial consultation process, an international workshop with interested international forums and their stakeholders was held in Geneva on 20-21 June 2007. The main aim of the workshop was to provide a forum within which Aarhus Parties and representatives of various other international forums (from governments, secretariats and other stakeholders) might meet together to exchange experiences of their practices with respect to the themes of access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice.

As well as hearing presentations by prominent experts in the area of public participation in international forums, participants had the opportunity to take part in interactive issues-based discussion groups. The Almaty Guidelines (ENG FRE RUS) were a key background document and the Aarhus Parties received feedback on them, in the context of the consultation process. The workshop was conducted in English with French and Russian interpretation provided during most of the sessions.

Provisional Agenda PDF ENG - -
List of participants PDF ENG - -
Report of workshop, including Chairs' Summary PDF ENG FRE RUS
Synthesis Paper on Public Participation in International Forums (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2007/L.2)   PDF ENG FRE RUS
Addendum to the Synthesis Paper (Rules, procedures and practices on Access to Information and Access to Justice) (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2007/L.2/Add.1) PDF ENG FRE RUS
Addendum to the Synthesis Paper (Rules, procedures and practices on Public Participation) (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2007/L.2/Add.2) PDF ENG FRE RUS
Addendum to the Synthesis Paper (Current and Future workplans) (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2007/L.2/Add.3) PDF ENG FRE RUS
Addendum to the Synthesis Paper (Challenges) (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2007/L.2/Add.4) PDF ENG FRE RUS
Addendum to the Synthesis Paper (Comments on Almaty guidelines) (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2007/L.2/Add.5) PDF ENG FRE RUS
Summary of report commissioned by France on the state of the art on issues raised by public participation in international forums PDF ENG FRE -
Full report commissioned by France on the state of the art on issues raised by public participation in international forums PDF - FRE -
Bibliography for report commissioned by France on the state of the art on issues raised by public participation in international forums - English publications XLS ENG - -
Bibliography for report commissioned by France on the state of the art on issues raised by public participation in international forums - French publications XLS - FRE -
Bibliography for report commissioned by France on the state of the art on issues raised by public participation in international forums - Other language publications XLS - FRE -
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Background  

At the first meeting of the Parties (Lucca, October 2002), a discussion on the application of the Convention's principles in international forums took place on the basis of background material prepared at the request of the secretariat (PDF ENG FRE RUS and addendum in ENG). Through the Lucca Declaration, paragraph 31 (PDF ENG FRE RUS), the Parties recommended that the possibility of developing guidelines on “promoting 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” be given consideration, for adoption, as appropriate, at a future meeting of the Parties.

In October 2003, the Working Group of the Parties, the main intersessional body responsible for overseeing the work programme of the Convention, considered the issue on the basis of a background paper on Public Participation in International Forums (PDF ENG FRE RUS) prepared by the Bureau. It decided to establish, within available resources, a small ad hoc expert group to “consider the scope, format and content of possible guidelines and the appropriate process for their development” with a view to drawing up options for further consideration by the Working Group. The expert group was to be composed of “experts designated by governments, NGOs, relevant international organizations, other UNECE environmental conventions and multilateral environmental agreements”. The process was to take into account the need to avoid duplication of efforts and to ensure the broadest possible ownership of the guidelines, as well as the experience already gained by Parties and Signatories in the implementation of article 3, paragraph 7, of the Convention.

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Expert group on Public Participation in International Forums

The expert group met on 3-4 June 2004 to explore the possibilities for developing guidelines on involving the public (including NGOs and other stakeholders) in international environment-related bodies and processes.

It was composed of academics and experts designated by governments, international, intergovernmental and regional organisations, including MEA secretariats, and NGOs. Its interim results were reviewed by the Bureau of the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention at its meeting in July 2004. The Bureau decided to convene a second meeting of the expert group with a view to having a draft of guidelines ready for adoption at the second meeting of the Parties to the Convention (Almaty, May 2005).

Pursuant to the decision of the Bureau, the second meeting of the Expert Group took place on 8-10 November 2004 in Geneva. The experts provided a number of comments on the text of the draft guidelines and amended it accordingly. The revised document (PDF ENG FRE RUS) was submitted to the fourth meeting of the Working Group of the Parties (1-4 February 2005) for further consideration.

Further amendments to the draft guidelines were made at the fourth meeting of the Working Group of the Parties, at an open-ended Bureau Meeting (28 February-1 March 2005) and at the fifth meeting of the Working Group of the Parties (22-23 May 2005). Following that meeting, the draft guidelines were presented to the Meeting of the Parties for adoption.

At its second meeting, the Meeting of the Parties recalled the work done by the Expert Group and the Working Group of the Parties and adopted the Guidelines and accompanying decision II/4 (PDF ENG FRE RUS). The Meeting also established the Task Force, to be led by France, to enter into consultations regarding the Guidelines with the relevant international forums within the scope of the Guidelines.

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Documents of the second meeting of the Expert Group
Provisional Agenda DOC ENG - -
Report of the 2nd meeting of the Expert Group on Public Participation in International Forums (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2005/8) PDF ENG FRE RUS
Draft guidelines on Public Participation in International Forums DOC ENG - -
List of participants DOC ENG - -
 
Documents of the first meeting of the Expert Group
Provisional Agenda DOC ENG - -
Report of the 1st meeting of the Expert Group on the Public Participation in International Forums (MP.PP/WG.1/2004/13) PDF ENG FRE RUS
List of participants DOC ENG - -
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Other related documents  
UN Economic Commission for Europe        
Public Participation in International Forums
MP.PP/WG.1/2003/6
PDF ENG FRE RUS
Access to information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in International Forums (MP.PP/2002/18) PDF ENG FRE RUS
Survey of Selected Access to Information, Public Participation, and Access to Justice Rules and Practices in International Forums (MP.PP/2002/18/Add.1) PDF ENG - -
UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Major groups participation in CSD-12 official sessions DOC ENG - -
UN Secretary-General's Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations Relations with Civil Society
High Level Panel on UN-Civil Society; Contextual paper prepared by Fernando Henrique Cardoso HTML Link ENG - -
UN System and Civil Society – An Inventory and Analysis of Practices, Background Paper for the Secretary-General's Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations Relations with Civil Society DOC ENG - -
Keynote Speech by Fernando Henrique Cardoso HTML Link ENG - -
Strategic Partnership: Challenges and Best Practices in the Management and Governance of Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships Involving UN and Civil Society Actors; Background paper prepared by Carmen Malena for the Multi-Stakeholder Workshop on Partnerships and UN-Civil Society Relations  DOC ENG - -
The Diversity of Actors within the UN System; Informal paper of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Eminent Persons on Civil Society and UN Relationships  DOC ENG - -
Interaction between Civil Society and the United Nations; Speech by Ms. Birgitta Dahl DOC ENG - -
United Nations Environment Programme
Report of the Fifth Global Civil Society Forum (UNEP/GCS/5/1)  DOC ENG - -
Note on Global Ministerial Environment Forum; UNEP  DOC ENG - -
UNEP available information for civil society DOC ENG - -
The Global Civil Society Forum , Note by UNEP  DOC ENG - -
Enhancing the application of principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (UNEP/GC/22/17 Ch.II section B)  DOC ENG - -
Enhancing civil society engagement in the work of the UNEP; Revised Strategy Paper DOC ENG - -
Non-Governmental Organisations and other major groups
Strengthening Public Participation and Access to Information in the Americas; Environmental Law Institute/ Center for Human Rights and Environment  PDF ENG - -
A citizen’s guide to the World Bank Inspection Panel, by Dana L. Clark PDF ENG - -
Public Participation, Access to Information and Development Banks in the UNECE Region, CEE Bankwatch Network PDF ENG - -
Participation of Non-Governmental Organisations in International Environmental Co-operation. Legal Basis and Practical Experience;Summary of a report by Ecologic Institute for International and European Environmental Policy  DOC ENG - -
Received comments
TWN Inputs for Meeting on Aarhus Convention, Geneva 3-4 June 2004, Third World Network DOC ENG - -
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Links to the related internet resources
Explanatory note Link
Secretary-General’s Panel of Eminent Persons on Civil Society and UN Relationships http://www.un.org/reform/civilsociety/panel.shtml
Multi-Stakeholder Processes for Governance and Sustainability - Beyond Deadlock and Conflict, by Minu Hemmati, with contributions from Felix Dodds, Jasmin Enayati & Jan McHarry http://www.earthsummit2002.org/msp/book.htm
International Environmental Governance & Stakeholder Disenfranchisement, United Nations University, Report by Ms. J. Green http://www.ias.unu.edu
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