H.E. Mr. Pavle Radulović opened the discussion on the Budva Declaration on Environmental Democracy for Our Sustainable Future (ECE/MP.PP/201717-ECE/MP.PP/2017/3).
H.E. Mr. Kęstutis Navickas, Minister of Environment, Lithuania, welcomed the Budva Declaration and informed on the actions undertaken in the country. He expressed regret over cases of constant violations of the rights of public concerned and environmental activists in several countries and invited all the Parties, especially those in non-compliance with their obligations under the Convention, to respect the principles of transparency, openness and inclusiveness in environmental decision-making.
H.E. Ms. Graţiela-Leocadia Gavrilescu, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Environment of Romania, noted the improvement of access to information in the country, but recognized the need to train officials, which was an on-going process, with the delivery of publications covering a variety of areas. She pointed to the fact that protecting environment was one of the main policies to be promoted, notably to prevent pollution.
H.E. Mr. Goran Trivan, Minister of Environmental Protection, Serbia, started by inviting all the countries from the region to achieve the SDGs, and to do so, he stressed the need to ensure effective communication and cooperation between stakeholders, including the civil society. For this last point, and for solving individual environmental problems, Serbia was allocating specific financial resources. The country was also making efforts to facilitate access to justice.
H.E. Mr. Antonio Serifo Embalo, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Guinea-Bissau, pointed to the expansion of democratic principles in the field of environmental matters in his country, but also recalled vulnerability to the effects of climate change. He confirmed the country’s strong will to accede to the Aarhus Convention and welcomed the Budva Declaration as a source of inspiration that will further enhance the application of all three pillars of the Convention.
Referring to the Budva Declaration, Mr. Norbert Kurilla, State Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Slovakia, stated that the Declaration symbolically opens the door for a better and more sustainable future and stressed that in spite of the differences between national goals and priorities, the ultimate goal of nations remains the same: ensuring decent quality of life in harmony with nature.
Mr. Nicolas Fairise, representing France, affirmed that the Aarhus Convention and its Protocol usefully contribute to sustainable development and further described how France recently strengthened its measures for environmental democracy, which is at the core of the Budva Declaration.
Mr. Harry Liiv, speaking on behalf of the European Union and its member states, expressed the Union’s support to the Budva Declaration, which resulted from a constructive discussion between Parties, signatories and stakeholders. Stating that sustainable development was at the core of European Union’s actions and remained its objective, he reaffirmed the commitment of the European Union to implement the principles of the Convention and the Protocol.
Ms. Haykanush Parsamyan, representing Armenia, stated that the Budva Declaration was a starting point for environmental democracy and a crucial step for the implementation of the Aarhus Convention by promoting equality, freedom, human rights and rights of nature. She added that it was time to prepare society for an equal understanding and implementation of the principles of the Convention, ensuring that environmental democracy standards would dominate and determine the development in Armenia.
Mr. Milos Popovic, Head of the UN Resident Coordinator’s Team, delivered a statement on behalf of Mr. John Knox, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, in which he stated that the three pillars of the Aarhus Convention were at the forefront of environmental efforts and that the MOP6 had accomplished another milestone in this endeavour. To conclude, he added that the protection of the environmental activists should be addressed as a priority.
Mr. Robert Diderich, Head of the Health and Safety Division at OECD, welcomed the Budva Declaration and confirmed the organization’s readiness to play a role, in close collaboration with UNECE, as a source of expertise, data, and good practices in establishing and implementing PRTR.
Ms. Sulhiya Sodiqova stated, on behalf of all Aarhus Centres, that despite the fact there were sixty centres in different cities and countries, they had a lot in common when it came to environmental protection. By providing a link between civil society and authorities, they have been contributing to environmental democracy. She stated that the Budva Declaration would reinforce the transparency principle and facilitate the accomplishment of the remaining ones by 2030.
Mr. Vadim Ni delivered a statement on behalf of the Ecoforum of NGOs of Kazakhstan and Crude Accountability, focusing on the issue of harassment of environmental activists, without which, the principles of the Convention would just remain on paper. He referred to Parties which were not in compliance with the Aarhus Convention, and called on urgent action to protect environmental defenders.
Ms. Tatsiana Novikava, representing the NGO ECOHOME, urged Parties to respect environmental human rights and expressed regret over the fact that Belarus did not comply with the Convention.The adoption of the Draft Budva Declaration on Environmental Democracy for Our Sustainable Future (ECE/MP.PP/2017/17–ECE/MP.PRTR/2017/3) was followed by a surprise cultural presentation.
Review and Adoption of Decisions of the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention