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Public Participation in International Forums

Introduction

Compendium of case studies of good practice on promoting public participation in international forums

Task Force on Public Participation in International Forums

Consultation process

International workshop on involving the public in international forums

Background

Other related documents

Introduction 

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, 25-27 May 2005), the Parties adopted, through decision II/4 (ENG FRE RUS), a set of guidelines 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.

In the same decision, the Parties established a Task Force on Public Participation in International Forums to enter into consultations with international forums with respect to the Guidelines. Further information about the Task Force is available below.  

At their fourth meeting (Chisinau, 29 June-1 July 2011), the Parties adopted   decision IV/3 (ENG FRE RUS) on promoting the principles of the Convention in international forums. In that decision, Parties agreed that significant work still remained to be done to implement article 3, paragraph 7 of the Convention and to continue the work on promoting the application of the principles of the Convention in international forums directly under the authority of the Working Group of the Parties.

To this end, a thematic session on promoting the principles of the Convention in international forums was held during the 16th meeting of the Working Group of the Parties (Geneva, 19-21 June 2013). The thematic session focused on three themes:

1. Follow up from the previous thematic session
2. The new United Nations Environment Assembly
3. Policy reviews by international financial institutions

The presentations and background documentation discussed during the thematic session are available here. The report of the 16th meeting of the Working Group, including the agreed outcomes of the thematic session (agenda item VII), is available here.

 

Task Force on Public Participation in International Forums

At their second meeting, the Parties established the Task Force on Public Participation in International Forums 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 (ENG FRE RUS) welcoming the work of the Task Force to date and renewing its mandate for a further three years.

The Task Force, led by France, 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. Since the fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties (Chisinau, 29 June-1 July 2011),  the Convention's work on promoting the application of the principles of the Convention in international forums now continues directly under the authority of the Working Group of the Parties (see decision IV/3 above).  

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

Documents of the fifth meeting of the Task Force and workshop

Documents of the fourth meeting of the Task Force

Documents of the third meeting of the Task Force

Documents of the second meeting of the Task Force

Documents of the first meeting of the Task Force

 

Consultation process  

Over a thirteen month period between June 2006 to July 2007, the Task Force on Public Participation on International Forums carried out a consultation process with international forums regarding the Almaty Guidelines.

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 was intended 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, was prepared by the Aarhus Convention secretariat and is available here. 

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.

Through decision III/4 adopted at their third meeting (Riga, 13-15 June 2008), Parties requested the Task Force to prepare a compendium of case studies of good practice on promoting public participation in international forums. The compendium of case studies collected to date is available here.

Documents from the consultation process and international workshop

Document title

ENG

FRE

RUS

Written questionnaire

DOC

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Work Plan of the Task Force on Public Participation in International Forums (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2006/2/Add.1)

PDF

PDF

PDF

List of international forums invited to take part in the consultation process (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2006/2/Add.2)

PDF

PDF

PDF

Provisional agenda for international workshop

PDF

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List of participants for international workshop

PDF

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Report of workshop, including Chairs' Summary

PDF

PDF

PDF

Synthesis Paper on Public Participation in International Forums (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2007/L.2)  

PDF

PDF

PDF

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

PDF

PDF

Addendum to the Synthesis Paper (Rules, procedures and practices on Public Participation) (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2007/L.2/Add.2)

PDF

PDF

PDF

Addendum to the Synthesis Paper (Current and Future workplans) (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2007/L.2/Add.3)

PDF

PDF

PDF

Addendum to the Synthesis Paper (Challenges) (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2007/L.2/Add.4)

PDF

PDF

PDF

Addendum to the Synthesis Paper (Comments on Almaty guidelines) (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2007/L.2/Add.5)

PDF

PDF

PDF

Summary of report commissioned by France on the state of the art on issues raised by public participation in international forums

PDF

PDF

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Full report commissioned by France on the state of the art on issues raised by public participation in international forums

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PDF

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Bibliography for report commissioned by France on the state of the art on issues raised by public participation in international forums - English publications

XLS

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Bibliography for report commissioned by France on the state of the art on issues raised by public participation in international forums - French publications

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XLS

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Bibliography for report commissioned by France on the state of the art on issues raised by public participation in international forums - Other language publications

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XLS

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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 PDF PDF and addendum in PDF). Through the Lucca Declaration, paragraph 31 ( PDF PDF PDF), 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 PDF PDF) 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.

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 PDF PDF) 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 PDF PDF). 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.

Documents of the second meeting of the Expert Group

Document Title

ENG

FRE

RUS

Provisional Agenda

DOC

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Report of the 2nd meeting of the Expert Group on Public Participation in International Forums (ECE/MP.PP/WG.1/2005/8)

PDF

PDF

PDF

Draft guidelines on Public Participation in International Forums

DOC

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List of participants

DOC

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Documents of the first meeting of the Expert Group

Document Title

ENG

FRE

RUS

Provisional Agenda

DOC

-

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Report of the 1st meeting of the Expert Group on the Public Participation in International Forums (MP.PP/WG.1/2004/13)

PDF

PDF

PDF

List of participants

DOC

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Other related documents  

Document Title

ENG

FRE

RUS

UN Economic Commission for Europe

 

 

 

 

Public Participation in International Forums
MP.PP/WG.1/2003/6

PDF

PDF

PDF

Access to information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in International Forums (MP.PP/2002/18)

PDF

PDF

PDF

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

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UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Major groups participation in CSD-12 official sessions

DOC

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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

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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

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Keynote Speech by Fernando Henrique Cardoso

HTML

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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

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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

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Interaction between Civil Society and the United Nations; Speech by Ms. Birgitta Dahl

DOC

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United Nations Environment Programme

Report of the Fifth Global Civil Society Forum (UNEP/GCS/5/1) 

DOC

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Note on Global Ministerial Environment Forum; UNEP 

DOC

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UNEP available information for civil society

DOC

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The Global Civil Society Forum , Note by UNEP 

DOC

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Enhancing the application of principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (UNEP/GC/22/17 Ch.II section B) 

DOC

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Enhancing civil society engagement in the work of the UNEP; Revised Strategy Paper

DOC

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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

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A citizen’s guide to the World Bank Inspection Panel, by Dana L. Clark

PDF

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Public Participation, Access to Information and Development Banks in the UNECE Region, CEE Bankwatch Network

PDF

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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

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Received comments

TWN Inputs for Meeting on Aarhus Convention, Geneva 3-4 June 2004, Third World Network

DOC

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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


© United Nations Economic Commissions for Europe – 2013