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E-Democracy and the quest for environmental sustainablility: the role of the Aarhus Convention Jeremy Wates, Secretary to the Convention on Access to Information,

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Presentation on theme: "E-Democracy and the quest for environmental sustainablility: the role of the Aarhus Convention Jeremy Wates, Secretary to the Convention on Access to Information,"— Presentation transcript:

1 e-Democracy and the quest for environmental sustainablility: the role of the Aarhus Convention Jeremy Wates, Secretary to the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, * « Agenda 21 and the Information Society » Mini-conference United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Sixth meeting of the Task Force on Electronic Information Tools Palais des Nations, Geneva 13 December 2007

2 « Electronic information tools can enable us to work collectively for more inclusive political processes, allowing genuine participation of all citizens in all countries and broadening our joint quest for sustainable development. » Ms. Brigita Schmögnerová, former Executive Secretary of UNECE ( ), ‘Information and Communication Technologies for Environmental Democracy’, UNECE side event to WSIS-1, Geneva, December 2003

3  Environmental footprint of ICT: plusses and minuses  The democracy dimension: ICT as a tool for creating more inclusive societies  The role of the Aarhus Convention and Protocol on PRTR

4 The quest for environmental sustainability… ICT has the potential to significantly reduce environmental impacts:  Teleworking  Virtual conferencing  Paperless offices  Efficiencies in distribution of products and services But how much is it really happening?

5 … and the challenges  Global population forecast to rise from 6.5bn to 9.4bn by 2050  Number of Internet users increasing at 10+% per year from 964m in 2005 to 1.78bn by 2010  Increased energy and resource consumption, increased waste generation

6 Energy consumption  Electricity demand from servers doubled worldwide  Servers with cooling and auxiliary infrastructure alone account for 1.2% US electricity consumption  Additional power demand from manufacture of memory chips, commercial and end users equipment

7 e-waste  Escalating sources of e-waste: computers, mobile phones, TVs, VCRs, sound systems, copiers, etc  E-waste market set to grow at 8.8% per year  100,000 obsolete computers arriving in Lagos per month

8 Greening the Information Society  Efforts to bridge the digital divide should be coupled with increased efforts to address ICT’s environmental footprint  Cradle-to-grave assessment of ICTs so as to minimise environmental impact from their production, use and disposal  Uses of ICT to cut energy and resource use  Preventing illicit transboundary movement of e-waste

9 ICT as a tool for promoting more democratic, inclusive societies Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992):  A broad international consensus on the need to promote access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters Geneva Plan of Action (2003):  « The objectives of the Plan of Action are to build an inclusive Information Society… » Tunis Commitment (2005):  « a people-centred, inclusive and development oriented Information Society »

10 Aarhus Convention 1998 Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters  In the UNECE region, Principle 10 developed into a legally binding convention  Negotiated , adopted 1998, entered into force 2001, two meetings of the Parties 2002 and 2005  Environmental democracy treaty at the interface between human rights and environmental sustainability  Seeks to strengthen the transparency and accountability of government  Grants rights to the public and imposes obligations on public authorities

11 An international legal framework driving public access  Main legal framework promoting environmental democracy in Europe and Central Asia  41 Parties, including the EC  Three pillars: information, participation and justice  Information pillar: passive/reactive, in response to requests (art. 4) Proactive dissemination (art. 5)  Electronic access promoted in both reactive and proactive provisions  Recognized as a model public participation agreement globally

12 Pollution registers – a specific case of electronic access  Aarhus requires all Parties to take steps towards establishing pollution registers (art. 5.9)  Kiev Protocol on pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTR) adopted in 2003  Protocol requires its Parties to establish national electronic register, publicly accessible through Internet, of quantities of certain listed pollutants released or transferred from certain listed activities by enterprises, maintained through mandatory annual reporting by enterprises

13 Goal of the Convention and Protocol on PRTRs  Each member of the public should be able to  find out about significant sources of pollution in their backyard  have information on products to enable informed environmental choices and  participate in decisions affecting the environment and sustainable development

14 For more information   Thank you


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