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Meetings of the Signatories

Main page of the First Meeting of the Parties

The first meeting of the Signatories to the Convention took place in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, in April 1999. The meeting adopted a work plan aimed at preparing for the first meeting of the Parties and supporting countries in their efforts to implement the Convention. Under the work plan, three task forces were established, dealing respectively with pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTRs - lead country Czech Republic), genetically modified organisms (Austria) and the issue of a compliance mechanism for the Convention (United Kingdom).

A second meeting of the Signatories took place in Cavtat, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 3-5 July 2000, at which the activities of the three task forces were reviewed. It was proposed that the PRTR task force should be replaced by an intergovernmental working group on PRTRs, charged with the task of preparing a legally binding instrument on PRTRs under the auspices of the Convention, with a view to its being ready for adoption at the 5th Ministerial Conference ‘Environment for Europe’ (Kiev, May 2003). This proposal was accepted by the Committee on Environmental Policy at its annual meeting at the end of September 2000, and therefore negotiations on the new instrument started in February 2001.

The work of the other two task forces will also eventually be discussed within intergovernmental working groups in preparation for submitting recommendations to the first Meeting of the Parties. Two further task forces were established by the second meeting of the Signatories, dealing with access to justice (lead country Estonia) and electronic information tools (lead country Austria) respectively.

The meeting also agreed to hold a workshop on public participation in the context of policies, programmes, plans and legislation (responsible countries Czech Republic and Norway), with a view to generating input to the anticipated negotiation of a new ECE protocol on strategic environmental assessment under the Espoo Convention.

The Meeting of the Signatories has established a bureau to assist the Chairperson in performing his duties.

The Convention enters into force on 30 October 2001. A preparatory Working Group met three times (November 2001, May and July 2002) to prepare for the first meeting of the Parties.