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Environmental democracy clearing house launched to highlight progress under the Aarhus Convention

Published: 13 July 2004

Geneva

A new “environmental democracy” clearing house – aarhusclearinghouse.unece.org – is being launched by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to highlight and promote awareness of issues covered by the Aarhus Convention.1 The clearing house showcases good practices in citizens’ environmental rights and is expected to make implementation of the Convention more effective.

The Aarhus clearing house provides a forum for the collection, dissemination and exchange of information on laws, policies and good practices relevant to the rights of public access to information, public participation in environmental decision-making and public access to justice on environmental issues. In addition to information related to the Aarhus Convention, the clearing house also contains other information relevant to the implementation of principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, adopted at the Earth Summit in 1992.2 It, therefore, has the potential to become a leading global repository of information on this theme.

The clearing house provides information for a wide range of users, including governments, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, students and researchers, and the general public.

The clearing house will help the Convention's compliance mechanism by providing ready access to information on national implementing legislation and practices. Information gathered through the reporting requirements under the Aarhus Convention will be available through the clearing house. Non-governmental organizations may also submit information to the clearing house.

Mr. Kaj Bärlund, Director of the UNECE Environment and Human Settlements Division, hopes that the Parties to the Convention will embrace the clearing house as “a mechanism for promoting access to information and widespread participation in the development of environmental democracy throughout the region and beyond.”

According to Ms. Svetlana Zhekova (Bulgaria), Chairperson of the Aarhus Convention’s Task Force on Electronic Information Tools, “the Aarhus clearing house is a cost-effective electronic information tool providing a window on environmental democracy worldwide. Easy access to information on how countries are applying the Aarhus Convention can provide an invaluable source of inspiration for other countries that work on developing their own procedures, mechanisms and legislation.”

A demonstration version of ‘aarhusclearinghouse.unece.org’ was shown at the 3rd meeting of the Aarhus Convention’s Task Force on Electronic Information Tools (Geneva, 2 July) and from today it will be accessible to the public at large.

The UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters – commonly known as the Aarhus Convention after the Danish city where it was signed in 1998 – has been described by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan as ‘the most ambitious venture in environmental democracy undertaken under the auspices of the United Nations’.

The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (3 to 14 June 1992). See

http://www.unep.org/Documents/Default.asp?DocumentID=78&ArticleID=1163


For more details, see http://aarhusclearinghouse.unece.org, or contact:

Mr. Michael Stanley-Jones

UNECE Environment and Human Settlements Division

Palais des Nations

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Phone: +41 (0)22 917 24 42

Fax: +41 (0)22 917 01 07

E-mail: michael.stanley-jones@unece.org

1 The UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters – commonly known as the Aarhus Convention after the Danish city where it was signed in 1998 – has been described by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan as ‘the most ambitious venture in environmental democracy undertaken under the auspices of the United Nations’.

2 The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (3 to 14 June 1992). See http://www.unep.org/Documents/Default.asp?DocumentID=78&ArticleID=1163

Ref. ECE/ENV/04/P12


United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Palais des Nations, 

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 44 44

Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 05 05