Aarhus Convention should be a ‘gift’ to RIO+20


1st July 2011

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) has called on the 44 Parties to the Aarhus Convention from Europe and Central Asia to make the Convention a ‘gift’ to the Rio+20 conference next year. Today is the final day of the fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties (MoP) to the Aarhus Convention, which takes place in Chisinau, Moldova.

The Aarhus Convention is a landmark in environmental democracy. Adopted in 1998, it seeks to guarantee the rights of the public to have access to information, to participate in decision-making and to have access to justice in environmental matters.

Addressing Environmental Ministers and other delegates at today’s meeting during a high level panel discussion, EEB Secretary General Jeremy Wates said that it was important to remove obstacles for countries outside the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) area to accede to the Convention, and thus help increase environmental democracy globally.

“This is a ground-breaking Convention which could dramatically improve the environmental rights of citizens globally. Ahead of next years Rio+20 conference, what better time than now is there to make it easier for non-UNECE countries to accede the Aarhus Convention? The parties should commit to adopting at their next session an amendment removing the requirement that accession by non-UNECE States is subject to approval by the MoP,” said Wates.

Wates went on to criticise the recent European Commission Communication on Rio+20 for failing to address issues of civil society involvement and adopting a top-down approach to the green economy.

“The Communication contains many useful and important ideas, but it almost completely fails to mention the importance of transparency, accountability and civil society empowerment, and the value that our more-than-a-decade of experience with the Aarhus Convention can contribute to the Summit.”

He called on EU Member States to rectify this shortcoming and put Aarhus centre stage when preparing the EU’s contribution to Rio+20.

Read the full speech