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Sharing lessons from the Aarhus Convention at UNFCCC PreCOP25 and First Meeting of Signatory Countries to the Escazú Agreement

We all have a role to play in shaping our environment. From local engagement in environmental decision-making to citizen involvement in climate action, the principle of “environmental democracy” can be a powerful driver of sustainable development. Sharing successful approaches to putting this principle into action, such as the UNECE Aarhus Convention, can help to realise this potential in countries around the world.

In this regard, two important international events take place this week in San José, Costa Rica: the preparatory meeting for the Twenty-fifth Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (PreCOP25,  8–10 October 2019) and the First Meeting of the Signatory Countries to the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Escazú Agreement) (11 and 12 October 2019).

The Aarhus Convention Parties and the secretariat continuously promote the application of the Convention –namely, effective access to information and public participation in decision-making – in different international forums dealing with matters relating to the environment. The secretariat went to San José at the invitation of the events’ organizers to provide advisory support for that purpose.

The wealth of experience accumulated by the innovative compliance mechanism of the Aarhus Convention – a board of independent experts who consider cases brought by members of the public and Governments seeking to ensure that the obligations arising from the Convention are met – will be promoted at the First Meeting of the Signatory Countries to the Escazú Agreement being convened by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

In turn, UNFCCC Parties, other interested States and stakeholders will be trained to promote effective and inclusive public participation in climate-related decision-making at different events taking place at the PreCOP25, including at a workshop and high-level round table entitled “Integrating Human Rights in National Climate Commitments and International Climate Negotiations”, organized jointly by the Government of Costa Rica, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Centre for International Environmental Law.

The Aarhus Convention and its Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers help Governments to ensure that the development and implementation of plans, programmes and other decisions related to climate change are pursued through transparent, accountable and participatory decision-making processes. 

Promotion of the principles of the Aarhus Convention in international forums dealing with matters relating to the environment is led by France. This far-reaching work helps to further transparency and effective public participation in international decision-making processes regarding different subjects such as climate, chemicals, health, finance and trade.

For more information, please visit http://www.unece.org/env/pp/welcome.html