EUROPARC calls for the implementation of the Human Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment in the Council of Europe

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EUROPARC presented the work of the Environment, climate change, Heritage and health committee at the General Assembly of the Conference of International NGOs from the 24th – 26th of April 2023.

EUROPARC calls for the implementation of the Human Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment in the Council of Europe

The General Assembly of the Conference of International NGOs (CINGO), held on the 24th to the 26th of April 2023, marks the end of EUROPARC’s two year mandate of the chairmanship of the Environment, climate change, Heritage and health committee within the Council of Europe (CoE). This committee looked at the following conventions as having particular relevance for European Protected Areas:

The conclusions of this committee are that all these conventions need better coordination and communication in order to achieve an improvement in nature heritage and health management across Europe. There remains a lack of space within the CoE to discuss and relate the crises of climate change and biodiversity loss within its competencies, namely democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

EUROPARC will remain engaged with the work being done in the creation of a protocol to enshrine the right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment, which currently does not exist in the European Convention on Human Rights, as explained in our previous article.

In her closing remarks EUROPARC Executive director, Carol Ritchie, stressed that:

Climate change and biodiversity loss are indeed equity, social justice and human rights issues.

The effect of these crises will be experienced more by the poorest and most vulnerable in our societies. The Council of Europe has maintained that sustainable development is at the top of its agenda, stating that economic progress should not compromise key assets of humanity and the quality of the environment and landscapes and indeed further intimated that climate change is the most serious environmental problem that our shared European natural and cultural heritage is facing. Yet action on climate change and biodiversity loss are negligible across European conventions.

The Aarhus Convention

Further, the Council of Europe, fully adopted the principles of the Aarhus Convention which remains relevant to Protected Areas inthe following ways:

  • Access to environmental information

That information on environmental issues should be available, and accessible.

  • Public participation in environmental decision making

That people should be able to participate in environmental decisions making, something we advocate for in the EUROPARC Youth Manifesto, and through the menthodologies in the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism and Transboundary Parks Programme.

  • Access to justice

That justice should be accessible, that it should be the right of every person, present and future generations to live in an environment adequate to health and being. Here it is imperative that the CoE with leadership from the CINGO to press for the greater action on climate change and nature loss as well as the Human Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment.

Progress on the UN Human Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment

Thus far, environmental violations are addressed under article 8 of the European Convention for Human Rights (the right to privacy). With the majority of European countries being Member States within the CoE and having supported the UN Resolution, the European convention becomes outdated in this regard. It is up to the CoE to show solidarity and leadership amongst its members and bring the European Convention up to speed with the international standard.

Protected Areas and their investment and management are a key mechanism to create, deliver and ensure people have this right to a heathy environment realised. EUROPARC will continue to work with others across civil society to press this case.

Toegether with 43 other INGOs, EUROPARC has signed a letter intended to the summit of CoE leaders in Iceland in May. This is only the 4th Summit of the CoE since its establishment in 1949 which is why it is such a pivotal moment to set the path for the future. The letter calls upon the Member States of the Council of Europe to seize the unique opportunity offered by the Reykjavik Summit to promote the effective protection and explicit recognition of an autonomous right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment in an Additional Protocol to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Read the full letter here:

CINGO Letter to the MS of the CoE ahead of the 4th Summit in Reykjavik

Register now to the EUROPARC Conference 2023!

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Our network will meet in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands from 3 – 6 October. Register now to the EUROPARC Conference 2023!

Tribute to our landscape – where nature and people meet in harmony

Our landscapes are the places where people meet, in the past, present and future. In the face of our different challenges, like biodiversity loss and climate change, the decisions we make now will decide if we have a future in harmony with nature.

So, what is needed to create this harmony? What are the lessons learned from our past? How can we change our behaviour and act on regional, national and European level to find this harmony? These are the questions that will guide us throughout the Conference.

Register now!

In 2024, whilst there will be an innovative online alternative, there will not be a face to face EUROPARC Conference. All the more reason to come together this year!

Learning from 50 years of EUROPARC

2023 marks EUROPARC’s 50th anniversary. As such, our Conference will provide participants with loads of opportunities to celebrate. The celebration of 50 years of EUROPARC Federation will form an important element in the programme.

Our 50 years of experience in handling issues and finding solutions can be of great value, if we are capable of linking them to the challenges of tomorrow.

We hope to see many friends, old and new, gather in Leeuwarden, to celebrate this milestone with us. This Conference will bring together the best of EUROPARC, from networking to knowledge exchange: Let’s together learn from the past to prepare for the future. Check out the exciting programme that awaits here:

Full programme

Special early bird & youth fees

Being early pays off! Register until the 15th of May to profit of a special early bird fee. Our members only pay 280 euros – please be sure to have your membership number on hand! Additionally, there are special youth fees, at only 50% of the regular price. However, there is more. Youngsters between 15 and 25 years old can apply for the complete reduction of the Conference fee, made possible by EUROPARC with the generous support of the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung. Only travel and accommodation will need to be paid for by you or your organisation. All information here.

Workshops, inspiration sessions & moments to present your work

This EUROPARC Conference really has it all! Apart from many opportunities to network and learn from your peers, you will also be able to present your own work at either the Landscape Festival or the Marketplace. Additionally, led by experts, our workshops will dive into all topics relevant for Protected Area management, from coexistence with wild carnivores to visitor management – the choice is yours! Of course, field trips in a truly fascinating country will top off your Conference experience. Ready to register? Then head over to the official website now.

The organisation EUROPARC Conference 2023, representing the Dutch National Parks, and the EUROPARC Federation look forward to welcoming you there!