EUROPARC’s work inside the Council of Europe INGOs Conference

Published on:

In 2021, EUROPARC launched and became chair of the Thematic Committee ECCH&H (Environment, Climate Change, Heritage & Health) in the Conference of the International NGOs of the Council of Europe. Find out what has been happening so far!

Why a new committee?

The climate change emergency, the perilous state of biodiversity, the ongoing land consumption through infrastructure and agriculture in Europe and even more the recent COVID-19 pandemic, have highlighted the intrinsic need 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. Therefore, 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.

The new Thematic Committee ECCH&H is 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.

The committee wants to ensure the human rights of European citizens are upheld with respects to the impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss and the connection between people and natural and cultural heritage.

What’s the purpose?

The committee wants to collate and contribute to the work achieved under the auspices of all relevant Council of Europe conventions and committees with respect to Environment and Human Rights, referencing the Sustainable Development Goals, climate change commitments and the need for greater connectivity (as exposed through COVID-19) between people and nature, and the need to ensure understanding of and to value our shared European heritage.

The following conventions, and their relevance, will be the priority areas of work for the committee

  • Bern Convention – to address issues around human rights, justice and transparency of information around climate change, nature and health under whilst considering the conservation of flora and fauna and their natural habitats, and the promotion of international co-operation in this field;
  • Landscape (Florence) Convention – to address issues around human rights, justice and transparency of information whilst promoting the protection, management and planning of European landscapes and organise European co-operation on landscape issues;
  • Aarhus Convention to ensure access to information, public participation and access to justice, in governmental decision-making processes in particular in relations to environment, climate change, heritage and health issues;
  • Faro Convention – to ensure the important aspects of heritage as they relate to human rights and democracy are promoted and strengthen the understanding of heritage and its relationship to communities and society.

Other conventions such as Valetta and Granada will also be referenced.

What has been done so far?

Since its official approval in April 2021, together with the other organizations members of the Committee, EAA, CIVILSCAPE, IDF, ECYC, EURODOC, Friends of the Earth and EEB, we:

  • organized 4 Committee’s meetings in 2021
  • supported and signed the letter “NGO concerns regarding the financing of the Bern Convention” addressed to the Delegates of the Contracting Parties to the Bern Convention
  • worked internally with our networks to increase awareness about the concerns regarding the financing of the Bern Convention and the future of its Secretariat
  • collaborated to the Preliminary draft on Recommendation on human rights and the protection of the environment  prepared by the Drafting Group on Human Rights and Environment (CDDH-ENV)
  • have started to create informal connections with the EHF (European Habitat Forum), EU NGOs platform
  • have started to analyze the communication’s work done and to be done by the Committee’s members on the relevant Conventions

Stay tuned: The Committee is very active and full of initiatives for 2022! You can find more resources and meeting notes on the website of the CoE here.