Council of Europe and European Landscape Convention


The Council of Europe is the continent’s leading human rights organisation. Founded in 1949., it includes 47 member states, 28 of which are members of the European Union. All Council of Europe member states have signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty designed to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The European Landscape Convention of the Council of Europe promotes the protection, management and planning of the landscapes and organises international co-operation on landscape issues.

The organisation

The Council of Europe has its headquarters in Strasbourg, France. It employs 2.200 people, and maintains external and liaison offices to other international organisations. The European Youth Centres in Strasbourg and Budapest offer training for young people in democracy and human rights issues.

IT IS NOT AN EUROPEAN UNION INSTITUTION, but another international organisation

Do not get confused

 Council of Europe

An international organisation in Strasbourg which comprises 47 countries of Europe. It was set up to promote democracy and protect human rights and the rule of law in Europe.

  European Council

Institution of the European Union, consisting of the heads of state or government from the member states together with the President of the European Commission, for the purpose of planning Union policy.

 European Union (EU)

The EU currently has 28 members that have delegated some of their sovereignty so that decisions on specific matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level. No country has ever joined the EU without first belonging to the Council of Europe.

The Council of Europe works in close partnership with the European Union, and co-operates with the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and with partner countries in its neighbourhood and worldwide.

Sustainable development and the competences of the Directorate general Democracy 

Drawn by Alberto Floridi

Preamble of the European Landscape Convention

The landscape … has an important public interest role in the cultural, ecological, environmental and social fields, and constitutes a resource favourable to economic activity and whose protection, management and planning can contribute to job creation; …to the formation of local cultures and… is a basic component of the European natural and cultural heritage, contributing to human wellbeing…;is an important part of the quality of life for people everywhere: in urban areas and in the countryside, in degraded areas as well as in areas of high quality, in areas recognised as being of outstanding beauty as well as everyday areas;… is a key element of individual and social well-being and…its protection, management and planning entail rights and responsibilities for everyone.

Adopted in Strasbourg by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 19 July 2000, the European Landscape Convention was opened for signature by the Organisation’s member states in Florence on 20 October of that year. As the first international treaty devoted exclusively to all aspects of landscape, it addresses the Council of Europe’s key challenges in the areas of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The Council of Europe member states signatory to the Convention have declared themselves “concerned to achieve sustainable development based on a balanced and harmonious relationship between social needs, economic activity and the environment”. The Convention is therefore the first international treaty devoted to sustainable development, with the cultural dimension a particularly relevant factor.

You can find the text of the convention here.


Bern Convention

Bern Convention

The Bern Convention is a binding international legal instrument in the field of nature conservation, covering most of the natural heritage of the European continent and extending to some States of Africa.

Over thirty years ago, an innovative legal text was adopted to protect Europe’s wild plants and animals. The Council of Europe’s Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (1979), or Bern Convention, was the first international treaty to protect both species and habitats and to bring countries together to decide how to act on nature conservation.

You can learn more about the Bern Convention, the values it represents and the Parties under the convention here.

The Emerald Network is an ecological network made up of Areas of Special Conservation Interest. Its implementation was launched by the Council of Europe as part of its work under the Bern Convention, with the adoption of Recommendation No. 16 (1989) of the Standing Committee to the Bern Convention.

You can learn more about the Emerald Network of Areas of Special Conservation Interest here.