Connecting Human Rights and Nature inside the Council of Europe
The new Environment, Climate Change, Heritage and Health Committee inside the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe, chaired by EUROPARC Federation, aims to develop an integrated approach between human rights, environment, heritage and health in the Bern, Florence, Aarhus and Faro Conventions.
The climate change emergency, the perilous state of biodiversity, the ongoing land consumption and even more recent, the COVID-19 pandemic, have highlighted the intrinsic need of and link between human health, heritage and nature.
All of these critical topics – environment, climate change, heritage, and health -, have inequalities in terms of access and effects embedded in them, and moreover, their governance needs to be founded in sound participatory democratic principles. Democracy, human rights and the rule of law are deeply applicable and need to be ensured across these important themes in our societies.
Thus, a new Thematic Committee inside the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe, dedicated to bridge the perceived nature-culture divide, improve mutual understanding, gather, and disseminate good practice, ensure a check and balance for public institutions, and provide a cross sectoral platform, was definitely urgent from EUROPARC’s perspective.
Therefore, thanks to the initiative of the EUROPARC Federation, the new Environment, Climate Change, Heritage and Health Committee (ECCH&CH) has been officially approved on 28th of April 2021 by the INGOs General Assembly.
By bringing together INGO’s from a range of different sectors, the ECCH&H Committee seeks an integrated approach. It addresses the human rights aspect of environment and heritage in the framework of the Bern, Florence, Aarhus and Faro Conventions and, references the Sustainable Development Goals, climate change commitments and the need for greater connectivity between people and nature.
The Committee aims to overcome the nature/culture divide that hinders collaboration and progress towards a shared vision that protects human rights, upholds democracy and the rule of law. It wants to raise awareness and encourage the development of Europe’s cultural identity and shared values.
The Committee has started working on the analysis of the gaps and potentialities of the Council of Europe (CoE) Conventions. It has already identified some crucial needs that will be at the core of the Committee’s actions:
- to re-launch the importance of the Conventions among public authorities and civil society, in particular the Bern Convention;
- to update and connect key concepts of the Conventions, i.e. “equality” with climate change impacts;
- to enable different experts to work together to develop the synergies and create a toolbox composed by the different CoE Conventions.
The members of the Committee will also act to generate synergies between the ECCH&H Committee and different European Union NGOs Platforms.
Members of the ECCH&H Committee are:
The Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) of the Council of Europe is the representative body of the INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe. EUROPARC is a member since 2013.
The substantive work on particular issues is undertaken in Committees. They provide a focus for discussion and research on issues relevant to the work of the Council of Europe. They prepare reports and where appropriate, draft declarations, recommendations and resolutions for consideration by the General Assembly.