"The Aarhus Convention has never been more relevant or more needed," can be read in an European ECO Forum's declaration. This statement was released to the 6th MOP to the Aarhus Convention and to the 3rd MOP to the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers taking place in Budva, Montenegro. The network of NGO´s and so-called environmental citizens´ organizations (ECO´s) published an eleven pages long document full of remarks, recommendations and warnings related to the key topics of the convention. This result of long time preparations was finalized during the Budva meetings and focuses on stressing out the contemporary problems of Aarhus Convention implementation by the countries in question.
Among other issues the ECO Forum is disturbed by the insufficient access to information, ineffective public participation in decision making or questionable justice independence in some of the members. Although the network notices some positive changes and establishing of democratic processes in particular states, the declaration also points out that in many of them, some of the key elements that should have been guaranteed by the Convention even worsened during the last inter-sessional period. We, Arnika, publish the full text of the declaration not only because we are part of the European ECO Forum, but also due to the strong believe that its conclusions shall be spread out to as large audience as possible.
"We, the representatives of civil society from more than 80 non-governmental organisations from countries of Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, agreed the following on 10 September 2017, in Becici/Budva, Montenegro.
Since the Aarhus Convention was adopted in 1998, the environmental crisis has continued and deepened. While progress has been made in tackling some specific environmental problems, the overall impact of human activity continues to take us inexorably towards passing a point of no return in relation to climate change, biodiversity loss and soil degradation, to mention a few. In other words, we, human society, are not winning the battle to save the environment.
[...] In the context of Brexit, and the extent of uncertainty that obtains as to how decisions made in the UK post Brexit will be influenced by obligations consistent with and enforceable under EU law – this Convention takes on an even greater importance. This is particularly relevant in relation to transboundary impacts and consultation thereon. The Convention in relation to consultation requirements has therefore never been more important, as is the case in the separate, yet complementary Espoo Convention."
The full text of the European ECO Forum declaration can be downloaded from here.