The fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) took place in the Palace of the Republic in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, from 29 June 2011 to 1 July 2011, at the kind invitation of the Government of the Republic of Moldova.
The fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties provided a platform for Parties, Signatories, international organizations, civil society and other stakeholders, to discuss achievements and challenges in promoting environmental democracy. Participants addressed a wide range of topics, including access to justice, access to information and public participation in national decision-making as well as in international forums.
Welcoming global accession and promoting sustainable development
Marking a decade since the entry into force of the Convention, the Meeting of the Parties adopted a decision encouraging the accession by States outside the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) region, including a simple procedure for doing so — thus encouraging the propagation of the important and unique protections offered by this international environmental rights treaty on a fully global scale.
The move is widely recognized as a timely one: in a message delivered to the session, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon noted that the Aarhus Convention “is more important than ever”. The “treaty’s powerful twin protections for the environment and human rights can help us respond to many challenges facing our world, from climate change and the loss of biodiversity to air and water pollution. And the Convention’s critical focus on involving the public is helping to keep Governments accountable,” the Secretary-General stressed. For the full statement, click here. The Meeting adopted the Chisinau Declaration (ENG FRE RUS) at the high-level segment, delivering a well thought-out message on the promoting environmental participatory democracy to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio +20.
Furthering Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice
The Meeting agreed on a number of decisions, including the future work programme to guide the activities in the next intersessional period. In adopting the Convention’s work programme for 2012–2014, the Meeting decided the Task Forces on Public Participation in Decision-making (led by Ireland) and Access to Justice (led by Sweden) will continue with renewed mandates. A third task force has been given a new mandate as the Task Force on Access to Information (to be led by the Republic of Moldova) to, inter alia, promote exchange of information and identify barriers and solutions concerning public access to environmental information, including with regard to products and the promotion of the accessibility of environmental information held by the private sector. The Meeting also agreed that the Task Force and relevant bodies under the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers should engage with the process for the Eye on Earth Summit (Abu Dhabi, 12–15 December 2011) so as to share the region’s experience globally. Furthermore, the Parties called for the Convention to continue the work (led by France) in promoting the Convention in international forums and building synergies with other conventions and international organizations involved in environmental matters.
Monitoring Parties’ compliance
The Meeting also adopted decisions on specific cases of non-compliance concerning Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Moldova, Spain, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, as well as a decision on issues of compliance generally. To date, all findings by the Committee have been endorsed by the Meeting of the Parties and all Parties concerned demonstrated their consent with the decisions.
All documents may be accessed through this webpage. They include documents and decisions adopted by the Meeting of the Parties, background documents prepared in advance for the meeting and relevant intersessional documents.
For the list of participants of the meeting, please click here.
The high-level segment of the meeting dedicated to the role of the Aarhus Convention in promoting sustainable development took place on Friday 1 July 2011, and culminated in the adoption of the Chisinau Declaration (ENG FRE RUS).
Welcoming remarks by Mr. Mihai Moldovanu, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova (ENG)
Welcoming remarks by Mr. Ján Kubiš, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ENG)
A message from UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon (delivered by Mr. Ján Kubiš, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) (ENG)
High-level thematic session I: Advancing sustainable development in the UNECE region: a success story or a missed opportunity for the Aarhus Convention?
The session took stock of successes and failures in implementing the Convention to date in order to create a snapshot which can guide future action towards full implementation.
- Statement of Mr Raimonds Vejonis, Minister of Environment, Latvia(ENG)
- Statement of Mr. Philippe Henry, Minister of Environment, Land-use planning and Mobility, Belgium, Walloon region (FRE)
- Statement of Mr. Simon Papyan, First Deputy Minister of Nature Protection, Armenia (RUS)
- Statement of Ms. Desiree Schweitzer, Deputy Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (delivered by Ms. Esra Buttanri, Environmental Affairs Officer) (ENG)
- Statement of Ms. Marta Szigeti Bonifert, Director, REC CEE (ENG)
High-level thematic session II: The Aarhus Convention as an inspiration for promoting Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration
The session sent a strong message to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), offering the region’s experience within the framework of the Aarhus Convention as an inspiration for delivery on Principle 10 beyond the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe region.
- Statement of Mr. Mladen Zirojevic, Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, Bosnia and Herzegovina (delivered by Ms. Azra Rogovic-Grubic, Senior Adviser of the Ministry) (ENG)
- Statement of Mr. Zoltan Illes, Secretary of State, Hungary (ENG)
- Statement of Mr. Brice Lalonde, Executive Coordinator of Rio+20, UNCSD
- Statement of Mr. Jeremy Wates, Secretary-General of EEB, European ECO-Forum (ENG)
Election of Compliance Committee members
In accordance with the procedure set out in decision I/7 on the review of compliance ( ENG FRE RUS ), in conjunction with decision I/1 on Rules of Procedure ( ENG FRE RUS ), the Meeting of the Parties elected by consensus three new members to replace those members of the Compliance Committee whose term of office expired at the end of fourth ordinary session of the Meeting of the Parties. The new members who will serve until the end of the sixth ordinary session of the Meeting of the Parties, are as follows: Mr. Pavel Cerný (Czech Republic), Mr. Ion Diaconu (Romania) and Ms. Heghine Hakhverdyan (Armenia). Also, Mr. Jerzy Jendroska (Poland) was re-elected by consensus to serve for a second term of office, until the end of the sixth ordinary session of the Meeting of the Parties. Subsequent to the fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties, the Committee elected Mr. Jonas Ebbesson (Sweden) as Chair and Ms. Svitlana Kravchenko (Ukraine) as Vice-Chair.
The Compliance Committee members are:
Mr. Jonas Ebbesson (Sweden)
Ms. Svitlana Kravchenko (Ukraine)
Mr. Alexander Kodjabashev (Bulgaria)
The Meeting of the Parties elects the members of the Committee by consensus, or failing consensus, by secret ballot. The Committee elects its own Chair and Vice-Chair at the next Committee’s meeting after the fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties.
Election of Bureau members
The Meeting of the Parties elected the following members of its Bureau:
Mr. Jit Peters (Netherlands)
Ms. Loredana Dall'Ora (Italy)
Mr. Lukas Pokorny (Czech Republic)
In accordance with rule 22, paragraph 2, of the rules of procedure, "the Bureau shall invite a representative of non-governmental organizations established for the purpose of, and actively engaged in, promoting environmental protection and sustainable development ... to attend bureau meetings as an observer."
Non-governmental organizations present at the fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties appointed Mr. Jeremy Wates (European ECO Forum and European Environmental Bureau) as the representative of NGOs to attend meetings of the Bureau in accordance with rule 22.
Keynote addresses and statements
at the General Segment on 29-30 June 2011 and at the thirteenth meeting of the Working Group of the Parties on 27-28 June 2011
Agenda item / Statement
H.E. Mr. Iurie Leancă, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova
H.E. Mr. Gheorghe Şalaru, Minister of Environment of the Republic of Moldova
Mr. Marco Keiner, Director of the UNECE Environment Division
4. Substantive issues
(a): Genetically modified organisms
Ms. Margareta Stubenrauch, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (Austria)
Mr. Ilya Trombitsky, European ECO Forum
(b): Access to information, including electronic information tools
United Kingdom on behalf of the Chair of the Task Force on Electronic Information Tools
(c) Public participation in decision-making
Mr. Philip Kearney (Ireland), the Chair of the Task Force on Public Participation
(d) Access to justice
Mr. Vibeke Ursin-Smith, Ministry of Environment (Norway)
Ms. Erna Hayriyan, Judge of the Cassation Court (Armenia)
Mr. Jan Darpo (Sweden), Chair of the Task Force on Access to Justice
(e) Public participation in international forums
Ms. Giuliana Gasparini, Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea (Italy)
Ms. Megumi Endo, Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
Mr. Etienne Ballan (France), Chair of the Task Force on Public Participation in International Forums
5. Procedures and mechanisms facilitating the implementation of the Convention
(b) Compliance mechanism
Mr. Veit Koester, Chair of the Compliance Committee
European Union (on general issues of compliance)
European Union (on compliance by Spain)
(c) Reporting requirements
6. Promotion of the Convention and relevant developments and interlinkages
(a) Accession to the Convention by States from outside the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe region
(b) Awareness-raising and communication
Ms. Claire Piens, FPS Public Health, Food Chain Security and Environment (Belgium)
(c) Synergies between the Convention and other relevant multilateral environmental agreements
Mr. Erie Tamale, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
(d) Update on United Nations Environment Programme initiatives on access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters
Ms. Barbara Ruis, UNEP
7. Programme of work and operation of the Convention
(b) Work programme for 2012–2014
(c) Financial arrangements
European Union (WGP statement)
European Union (MoP statement)
European ECO Forum