The third meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention was held in Riga, Latvia, on 11-13 June 2008.
The third meeting provided an opportunity to review the progress achieved in the Convention’s implementation during
the decade since its adoption in 1998 and efforts to build capacity among its Parties and Signatory States. It also adopted a
long-term strategic plan for the Convention.
The high-level segment of the meeting was held on Friday, 13 June 2007, and culminated in the adoption of the Riga Declaration (ENGFRE RUS).
Third session of Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention
Third session of Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention
The third meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention was held in Riga, Latvia, on 11-13 June 2008.
Documents adopted by the Meeting of the Parties, including the Riga Declaration, decisions taken by the Parties and the meeting report
|Annotated agenda for the third meeting of the Parties
|Report of the third meeting of the Parties
|Statement on the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers
|Decision III/1 on interpretation of article 14 of the Convention [dealing with the entry into force of amendments] ECE/MP.PP/2008/2/Add.3|
|Decision III/2 on electronic information tools and the clearinghouse mechanism
|Decision III/3 on promoting effective access to justice
|Decision III/4 on promoting the application of the principles of the Convention in international forums
|Decision III/5 on reporting requirements
|Decision III/6 on general issues of compliance
|Decision III/6a on compliance by Albania with its obligations under the Convention
|Decision III/6b on compliance by Armenia with its obligations under the Convention
|Decision III/6c on compliance by Kazakhstan with its obligations under the Convention with its obligations under the Convention
|Decision III/6d on compliance by Lithuania with its obligations under the Convention
|Decision III/6e on compliance by Turkmenistan with its obligations under the Convention (Ref. Decision II/5c)
|Decision III/6f on compliance by Ukraine with its obligations under the Convention (Ref. Decision II/5b)
|Decision III/7 on financial arrangements
|Decision III/8 on the Strategic Plan 2009-2014
|Decision III/9 on the Work Programme 2009-2011
Action Documents (Category I)
Background Documents (Category II)
|Alternative report on implementation of the Convention by Kazakhstan submitted by Ecological Forum Non-governmental organizations of Kazakhstan NGOs|
|Alternative report on implementation of the Convention by Kyrgyzstan submitted by a Kyrgyz NGO "Independent Ecological Expertise|
|Alternative report on implementation of the Convention by Slovakia submitted by 17 Slovak NGOs|
|ANGO Report and Opinion on the Implementation of the Aarhus C 2005 - 2007 Hungary published by Hungarian Network of Eco-counselling Offices|
|Capacity building activities in support of the Aarhus Convention - Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)|
|Correspondence from Ukraine in connection with paragraphs 16, 25 and 26 of the report of the Compliance Committee on compliance by Ukraine (ECE/MP.PP/2008/5/Add.9). Both English and Russian versions of the documents are presented here as provided by the Party.||PDF
|Response of the Coalition for Access to Justice for the Environment (CAJE) to the National Implementation Report submitted by the United Kingdom|
|Who is paying for the European public good of environmental demcracy? An analysis of financial contributions of Parties and Signatories to the Aarhus Convention to the funding of its Work Program (2003-2007), Institute for European Environmental Policy|
|Voice and Choice: Opening the Door to Environmental Democracy - Based on the findings of the Access Initiative. Executive Summary, World Resources Institute|
Election to the Compliance Committee
Newly elected members of the Compliance Committee
The Meeting elected four new Compliance Committee members to replace four members wholse term had expired and one new member, Taking into account decision II/5, through which it was decided to expand the membership of the Committee to nine. Thirteen nominees had been originally proposed.
Delegations had been encouraged to conduct consultations with a view to reaching a consensus on five candidates in the course of the tenth meeting of the Working Group of the Parties.
The consultation process was completed successfully and the Meeting re-elected Mr. Jonas Ebbesson (Sweden), Ms. Svitlana Kravchenko (Ukraine) and Mr. Gerhard Loibl (Austria) and elected Ms. Ellen Hey (Netherlands) and Mr. Alexander Kodjabashev (Bulgaria) by consensus to serve until the end of the fifth ordinary meeting.
At its first meeting, the Parties to the Convention adopted a decision on review of compliance, decision I/7, which established a compliance mechanism for the Convention ( Lucca, October 2002). The basis for the decision was provided by Article 15 of the Convention, which requires the Parties to set up arrangements of a non-confrontational, non-judicial and consultative nature to review compliance with the Convention.
Decision I/7 establishes a Compliance Committee as the main body for the review of compliance. The primary role of the Committee is to report and make recommendations to the Meeting of the Parties for it to decide upon and take appropriate action.
Decision I/7 established a Compliance Committee consisting of eight members serving in a personal capacity. These individuals are to be nationals of Parties or Signatories to the Convention who are persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the fields to which the Convention relates, including persons having legal experience.
Through decision II/5, adopted at the second meeting of the Parties (Almaty, May 2005), the number of Committee members was increased to nine with effect from the third meeting of the Parties.
Nomination for election
Parties, Signatories and non-governmental organizations falling within the scope of article 10, paragraph 5, of the Convention and promoting environmental protection may nominate candidates for election as follows:
- Nominations shall be sent to the secretariat in at least one of the official languages of the Convention not later than 12 weeks before the opening of the meeting of the Parties during which the election is to take place;
- Each nomination shall be accompanied by a curriculum vitae (CV) of the candidate not exceeding 600 words and may include supporting material;
- The secretariat shall distribute the nominations and the CVs, together with any supporting material, in accordance with rule 10 of the Rules of Procedure.
The Meeting of the Parties elects the members of the Committee by consensus or, failing consensus, by secret ballot.
At each ordinary meeting thereafter, the Meeting of the Parties shall elect four or five members, as appropriate, for a full term of office. Outgoing members may be re-elected once for a further full term of office, unless in a given case the Meeting of the Parties decides otherwise. A full term of office commences at the end of an ordinary meeting of the Parties and runs until the second ordinary meeting of the Parties thereafter. The Committee elects its own Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson.
The Committee may not include more than one national of the same State. In the election of the Committee, consideration should be given to the geographical distribution of membership and diversity of experience. Rotation
Impartiality and conscientiousness
Every member serving on the Committee shall, before taking up his or her duties, make a solemn declaration in a meeting of the Committee that he or she will perform his or her functions impartially and conscientiously.
For further information on the Compliance Committee, click here.
Nominations to the Compliance Committee at Third Meeting of the Parties
The following individuals had been nominated to serve on the Compliance Committee following the third session of the meeting of the Parties:
|Mr. Agron Alibali||Albania|
|Mr. Jonas Ebbesson||Sweden|
|Ms. Ellen Hey||Netherlands|
|Ms. Aida Iskoyan||Armenia|
|Mr. Alexander Kodjabashev||Bulgaria|
|Ms. Svitlana Kravchenko||Ukraine|
|Mr. Gerhard Loibl||Austria|
|Mr. Marc Pallemaerts||Belgium|
|Mr. Michel Prieur||France|
|Ms. Valentina Rossi||Italy|
|Mr. Christian Schrader||Germany|
|Ms. Deborah Tripley||United Kingdom|
|Ms. Pavol Zilincik||Slovakia|
For the complete schedule of side events, see the provisional programme.
Publicity and reports issued by side event organizers:
Wednesday, 11 June
Thursday, 12 June
Friday, 13 June
E-voting platform for Civil Society in Bulgaria - BlueLink Information Network
Key outcomes of the third Meeting of the Parties
The Riga Declaration: The Meeting adopted the Riga Declaration, which recognizes the accomplishments of the Convention’s first 10 years and the main challenges remaining to its successful implementation. The Declaration recommits the Parties to achieving environmental democracy in the UNECE region and beyond.
Charting the Convention’s future: The Meeting approved a strategic plan that will set in place the future course of the Convention (decision III/8 ENG). Through the Plan, the Parties reaffirm their commitment to implementation of the Convention among the existing Parties as their first priority while expressing their ambition to expand the geographical scope of the Convention by encouraging other countries, including countries from outside the UNECE region, to accede to it.
They also commit to the goal of further developing the provisions and principles of the Convention where necessary to ensure that it continues to achieve its objectives.
Finally, the Plan encourages Parties to share their experiences with the Convention with other forums interested in using them as a basis or a source of inspiration for further strengthening participatory democracy in their respective fields.
Implementation: The Meeting debated implementation of the Convention, drawing upon a set of thirty-five national reports on implementation, which provided an opportunity to see whether and how the goals of the Convention are applied in practice. The reports, prepared in most instances with input from the public, reveal that the Parties have made significant progress in applying the Convention but also continue to face obstacles to implementation.
Compliance: The Meeting approved decisions calling on six of the treaty’s forty-one parties – Albania, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Turkmenistan and Ukraine – to take measures to bring their countries into compliance with the Convention (decisions III/6 and III/6/a through f).
The Meeting’s review of compliance drew upon the findings and recommendations of the Convention’s independent Compliance Committee made in the period 2005–2008. It is the second test of the Convention's compliance mechanism, which is distinctive in that any member of the public having concerns about a Party’s compliance with the Convention may trigger a process of formal review by the Compliance Committee.
The Meeting issued conditional cautions to both Turkmenistan and Ukraine, both of which had already been found to be in non-compliance at the previous Meeting of the Parties. Unless certain steps are taken by the end of the year, and then verified by the Compliance Committee to have been taken, these cautions will take effect from 1 May 2009.
Public participation: The Meeting committed to take steps to strengthen the implementation of the public participation provisions of the Convention. This was in response to the findings under the compliance and reporting mechanisms that a number of member States face significant challenges in establishing detailed procedures ensuring meaningful public involvement.
Ireland offered to lead a future Task Force on Public Participation. For procedural reasons, the Meeting agreed to start with an ad hoc expert group on public participation and upgrade this to the status of a task force as soon as possible and at the latest by the next ordinary meeting of the Parties.
Continuation of work on the Convention’s access to justice pillar: the Meeting agreed to renew the mandate of the task force on access to justice, having identified this ‘pillar’ of the Convention as the one continuing to pose the greatest challenges (decision III/3 ENG).
Extension of the work on electronic information tools: The Meeting agreed to renew the mandate of the task force on electronic information tools to promote the use of Information and Communications Technology in support of increasing public participation in environmental decision-making (decision III/2 ENG).
The Meeting encourages countries “to develop and implement e-government and e-participation applications at all levels, thereby furthering access to government information and services and enabling the public to participate electronically in environmental decision-making.”
Promotion of the Aarhus principles in other international forums: the Parties reaffirmed their willingness to support the promotion of the Convention's principles in other international environmental decision-making processes and within the framework of international organizations in matters related to the environment (decision III/4 ENG). They agreed to extend the mandate of the task force, with the principal focus being on assisting the Parties to implement article 3, paragraph 7, of the Convention.
Early entry into force of the PRTR Protocol: the Parties approved a statement (Protocol ENG) calling on Signatories to ratify the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers in order to bring about its entry into force by 2009. In the Riga Declaration, the Parties identified pollutant release and transfer registers as “effective tools contributing to the prevention and reduction of pollution of the environment, promoting corporate accountability and enabling the public to know about immediate sources of pollution in their neighbourhood.”
Clarification of amendments procedure: The Meeting clarified the conditions for the entry into force of amendments under the Convention in such a way as to accelerate the entry into force of the amendment relating to genetically modified organisms adopted at the previous meeting, and any future amendments (decision III/1 ENG).
Adoption of the Work Programme 2009 - 2011: The Parties adopted a programme of work to guide activities during the intersessional period up to the fourth meeting of the Parties. Decision III/9 ENG reiterates the priority given to five substantive issues:
- the Protocol on PRTRs
- Access to justice
- Public participation
- Application of the principles of the Convention in international forums
- Electronic tools and the clearinghouse mechanism.
Among the new mandates contained in the 2009-2011 Work Programme, it was agreed to launch an expert group on a communication strategy.
Election of the new Bureau: The Meeting elected the Czech Deputy Minister for the Environment, Mr. Jan Dusik, as the new Chair of the Meeting of the Parties. Ms. Maud Istasse (Belgium) and Ms. Zaneta Mikosa (Latvia) were elected to serve as Vice-chairs of the Meeting of the Parties.
Fourth Meeting planned: The Parties welcomed the offer of the Government of Moldova to host the fourth Meeting of the Parties in 2011.
Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the adoption of the Convention: At the invitation of the Government of Latvia, an anniversary concert and reception celebrating the Convention’s accomplishments was held in the historic center of Riga. The honoured guest speaker at this special event was Mr. Willem Kakebeeke of the Netherlands, who chaired the negotiation of the Convention and later served as Chairman of the First Meeting of the Signatories.
Welcome by Latvian Minister of Enviornment Mr. Raimonds Vejonis
High-level Segment Statements
Welcome address by Mr. Gundars Daudze, Speaker of the Latvian Parliament (Saeima)
Opening remarks by Mr. Marek Belka, UNECE Executive Secretary
Opening statement by Slovenia on behalf of the European Union
I. Celebrating the first 10 years: achievements, lessons learned and future challenges
Statement by Mr. Arturas Paulauskas, Minister of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania
Statement by Ms. Françoise Nesi, Secretary-General, European Union Forum of Judges for the Environment
Statement by Mr. Bernard Snoy, Coordinator of Economic and Environmental Activities, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
Statement by Mr. Veit Koester, Chairman of the Compliance Committee
Statement by Mr. John Hontelez, Secretary-General, European Environmental Bureau and European ECO-Forum representative on the Bureau of the Meeting of the Parties
II. Global and regional initiatives to promote principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
Message delivered on behalf of Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, United Nations Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights
Presentation by Mr. Werner Kiene, The World Bank Inspection Panel
Presentation by Mr. Lalanath de Silva, World Resources Institute on behalf of the Access Initiative
III. Special session on the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers
Opening statement by Mr. Jan Dusik, Deputy Minister for the Environment, the Czech Republic, facilitator of the special session
Statement by Mr. Simon Papyan, Deputy Minister for the Environment, Armenia
Statement by Mr. Michel Amand, Chair of the Working Group on PRTRs, Belgium
IV. Interventions from the floor
Closing statement by Slovenia