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Seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention, fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on PRTRs, their joint High-level Segment and associated meetings

18 - 22 October 2021
Geneva Switzerland

The seventh 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), the fourth session of the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (Protocol on PRTRs), their joint High-level Segment and associated meetings took place in Palais des Nations, Geneva from 18 to 22 October 2021 in a hybrid format (combining on-site and remote participation).

Marking the 20th Anniversary of the entry into force of the Aarhus Convention, the events provided a platform for Parties, signatories, international organizations, civil society and other stakeholders to discuss achievements and challenges in promoting environmental democracy, digital transformation and sustainable development. Two sessions featured a Joint High-level Segment where delegations focused on the role of the Aarhus Convention and its Protocol in furthering sustainable infrastructure and spatial planning.

The sessions resulted in a number of outcomes. Parties to both treaties and a wide range of stakeholders adopted the Geneva Declaration on Environmental Democracy for Sustainable, Inclusive and Resilient Development. The Meetings of the Parties also adopted respective decisions setting out priorities for future work by 2025 to advance the implementation of and compliance with the Convention and the Protocol. Among them the following:

- Guinea-Bissau was welcomed as the first-ever country from outside the ECE region to accede to the Aarhus Convention.

- The Aarhus Convention rapid response mechanism for the protection of environmental defenders has been established under the leadership of Austria and Ireland.

- 20 decisions on compliance with the Aarhus Convention have been adopted to assist individual Parties to improve their legislation and practice in such areas as oil and gas extraction, gold mining, nuclear power plants, renewable energy, power lines, urban and spatial planning, access to justice, litter, forestry and the safety of environmental defenders.

- Recommendations to promote the use of electronic information tools were adopted to support implementation of the Convention in light of countries’ transition to digitalisation.

- Several Parties offered to lead key work areas under the Convention: Republic of Moldova - for access to information; Italy – for public participation in decision-making; Belgium—for access to justice;  Austria—for genetically modified organisms; and France—for promotion of the Convention’s principles in international forums.

- A decision on the way forward for developing the Protocol was adopted by the treaty’s Meeting of the Parties as to make PRTRs a useful tool for decision-making in various areas, such as public health, resource consumption, urban planning, emissions reduction.

Organisation of work and documents

For detailed information, including on documents, statements and other material, election of the Bureau and Compliance Committees members, please visit individual web pages for:

Dates Meetings List of Participants
18 - 20 October 2021 Seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention  PDF
22 October 2021 Fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on PRTRs  PDF
21 October 2021 Joint High-level Segment under the Meetings of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention and its Protocol on PRTRs  PDF

The meetings were held back to back with:
Dates Meetings
18 - 21 October 2021 Seventy-second meeting of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee 
22 October 2021 Eleventh meeting of the Protocol on PRTRs Compliance Committee 
The Convention’s and Protocol’s Bureaux held their meetings as required.


Consolidated Timeline

Please consult the consolidated timeline for details of the onsite and remote participation


Side - events

Side-events took place online from 11 to 15 October 2021.

More information about side-events is available here .

Media and communication resources:  

Full summary of the meetings
Press Release: Governments and stakeholders strengthen commitment to environmental democracy for sustainable, inclusive and resilient development
Press Release: Rapid response mechanism to protect environmental defenders established under the Aarhus Convention
Press Release: Governments and civil society look to enhance public engagement and protection for environmental defenders at Geneva meetings
Interviews: Together for sustainable, inclusive and resilient development

Join the conversation on #MoP7Aarhus #PRTRMoPP4, #20yrOfAarhus

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Photos of the events are available here