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Entry into force of the second amendment to the Espoo Convention to further support environmental impact assessment in the region

Published: 23 October 2017

Today marks the entry into force of the second amendment to the UNECE Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context for Parties having ratified, approved or accepted it.

The Espoo Convention, which celebrates the twentieth anniversary of its entry into force this year, provides for environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedures for all major projects under consideration, facilitating cooperation between countries to prevent, manage and mitigate adverse environmental impacts. Among other changes, the second amendment to the Convention expands the scope of activities covered by the Convention, enhances its application and its compliance mechanism, and establishes mandatory reporting for Parties.

The Meeting of the Parties to the Convention had adopted the second amendment (through decision III/7) back in 2004 to further improve the efficiency and transparency of the Convention’s application and to increase synergies with other multilateral environmental agreements and other relevant legislation. Today’s entry into force comes ninety days after the date of deposit by Denmark of the last missing (thirtieth) instrument of acceptance by State Parties to the Convention.

The second amendment extends the list of activities subject to the Convention, aligning it with the European Union Directive on environmental impact assessment. The application of the Convention to an extended list of activities in areas ranging from transport and energy infrastructure to industrial installations is expected to further strengthen the role of environmental impact assessment in the region.

Recognizing the benefits of international cooperation as early as possible in the assessment of environmental impact, especially in transboundary context, the amendment incorporates the Meeting of the Parties' recommendation that the country likely to be affected by a project under consideration should to the extent appropriate be given the opportunity to participate in determining the issues and impacts to be addressed (scoping).

To reinforce the work of the Implementation Committee, established in 2001, as a useful tool for the further implementation and application of the Convention, the amendment introduces measures for the “non-adversarial and assistance-oriented” review of compliance with the provisions of the Convention. In 2011, the review of compliance led by the Implementation Committee was extended to also cover the Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment to the Convention.

The amendment also includes provisions for mandatory regular reporting by Parties.

Finally, the second amendment clarifies the Convention’s amendment procedure, specifying that the established proportion (three-fourths) for the entry into force of amendments is to be calculated based on the number of the Parties at the time of its adoption.

For further information on the Convention and its Protocol, please visit:  http://www.unece.org/env/eia

Media contact: Convention secretariat (eia.conv@unece.org)

Note to editors

Espoo Convention

The Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo, 1991) is the only international instrument under the umbrella of the United Nations that offers a legal framework to ensure international cooperation in assessing and managing environmental impacts of planned activities, in particular in a transboundary context.

In force since 1997, it has 45 Parties, including the European Union and the following member countries of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Second amendment to the Convention

The full details of the second amendment to the Convention are available at: http://www.unece.org/env/eia/about/amendment2.html 

The second amendment to the Espoo Convention entered into force for Parties having ratified, approved or accepted it (See the status of ratifications of the second amendment: https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=XXVII-4-c&chapter=27&lang=en#1).

Thereafter, the second amendment will enter into force for any other Party on the ninetieth day after that Party deposits its instrument of ratification/approval or acceptance of the amendment.

The secretariat will publish the Convention text in English, French and Russian as amended, taking also into account the few corrections of editorial nature that were made to the text of the second amendment (French version only).

First amendment to the Convention (2001)

The Convention was amended for the first time in 2001 to allow all United Nations member States to accede to the Convention. Although in force since 2014, that amendment is not yet effective, pending eight missing ratifications.

Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment

In 2003, the Convention was supplemented by the Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment. Since its entry into force in 2010, the Protocol concretely helps to lay the groundwork for sustainable development: it ensures that Parties integrate environmental, including health, considerations and public concerns into their plans and programmes, and to the extent possible also into policies and legislation, at the earliest stages. To date, the Protocol counts 32 Parties, including the European Union.

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