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Environmental Information and the Aarhus Centres Michael Stanley-Jones Environmental Information Management Officer Aarhus Convention Secretariat United.

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Presentation on theme: "Environmental Information and the Aarhus Centres Michael Stanley-Jones Environmental Information Management Officer Aarhus Convention Secretariat United."— Presentation transcript:

1 Environmental Information and the Aarhus Centres Michael Stanley-Jones Environmental Information Management Officer Aarhus Convention Secretariat United Nations Economic Commission for Europe OSCE Aarhus Centres Regional Meeting Vienna, January 2009

2 Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) I. Report from the future II. Information pillar III. Clearinghouse IV. Role of Aarhus Centres

3 ACCESS TO INFORMATION PILLAR Passive (art. 4) Broad definition of environmental information (art. 2) –state of elements of the environment, e.g. air and atmosphere, water, soil, land, landscape, biological diversity etc –Factors, such as substances, energy, noise –Activities or measure, e.g. environmental agreements, policies, legislation, plans and programmes –Assumptions used in environmental decision-making, cost-benefit analysis (Stern Report would be covered) Any person has access –no need to prove or even state an interest) Time limit: ‘as soon as possible’, –max 1 month, plus 1 more month

4 ACCESS TO INFORMATION (2) ) Passive (art. 4 ) Charges not to exceed reasonable amount Finite set of exemptions, with restrictive interpretation: –public interest to be taken into account –Potential effects of disclosure must be adverse

5 ACCESS TO INFORMATION (3) Active (art. 5) Immediate dissemination of information in cases of imminent threat to health or environment Dissemination of international agreements, laws, policies, strategies, programmes and action plans relating to the environment Sufficient product information to ensure informed environmental choices Pollutant release and transfer registers (corporate accountability) Transparency and accessibility of information systems Increased access to information through Internet State of environment reports (max 4-year interval )

6 “The Internet article” Article 5, paragraph 3 …each Party to ensure that environmental information progressively becomes available in electronic databases which are easily accessible to the public through public telecommunication networks Parties at 1 st meeting in 2002 decided to launch an online clearinghouse

7 a clearinghouse is a place not only to buy and sell goods but also where one exchanges information, networks with people, shares projects and finds resources

8 The Aarhus Clearinghouse for Environmental Democracy …is a place to exchange ideas, good practices, projects and other information resources for implementation of the Aarhus Convention, its Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers and principle 10 of the Rio Declaration globally

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10 Aarhus Convention Parties, at their second meeting (Almaty, Kazakhstan, May 2005), adopted decision II/3 on Electronic Information Tools and the Clearing-house Mechanism Annex Recommendations on the More Effective Use of Electronic Information Tools to Provide Public Access to Environmental Information

11 Clearinghouse Upgrade Project September 2006 – February 2007 UNECE Secretariat and GRID-Arendal

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13 Clearinghouse Resource Directory Currently 1340 separate entries ‘tagged’ with one or more thematic attribute: Type of Resource Topic Events Access to Information Experts Access to Justice Funding Convention Compliance Legislation Electronic Tools Media GMOs Policy PRTRs Procedures Public Participation Projects Strategic Decision-making Research Training materials Also by Source and Geography

14 ‘Aarhusing’ the Official EC Complaint Procedure. Calls for reform of the European Community (EC) Official Complaint procedure over the past decade have included calls for complainants to participate in open meetings with the EC and government, to clarify and resolve issues faster. Four open meetings dealing with select Irish complaints were held in 2006 as part of a pilot and a model approach to dealing with complainants identified by the NGO participants. A summary and full accounts of these meetings are available on request from Coastwatch Europe Network. Contact Karin Dubsky, ENGLISH Coastwatch Europe Network, Anatomy of a Resource Entry TITLE / URL hotlink BODY OF TEXT SOURCE OR PUBLISHER YEAR OF PUBLICATION LANGUAGE

15 LAUNCH OF BASESWIKI: ON-LINE RESOURCE ON ACCESS TO NON-JUDICIAL REMEDY 8 January 2009 A new Business and Society Exploring Solution (BASES) dispute resolution community – - has been launched by John Ruggie, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Business and Human Rights BASESwiki is a resource for all stakeholders - companies, NGOs, mediators, lawyers lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers … [Source: Harvard Kennedy School] Anatomy of a Convention News feature HEADLINE BODY OF TEXT (max. 250 words) SOURCE DATE OF PUBLICATION BRIEF INTRODUCTION (max. 20 words)

16 Dynamic ranking of 10 top resources for any entry category Enhanced NavigationEnhanced Navigation

17 Expanded News RSS Feed Archive Search

18 National Implementation Reports (NIRs) Online Build and launch NIRs database to facilitate access to National Implementation Reports online  Contributing to transparency of implementation  Promoting sharing of good practices  Facilitating comparative analysis of national and sub-regional gaps and needs Online reporting system integrates 2008 reports into online database in the Aarhus Clearinghouse

19 Features The database is trilingual Allows multiply searches by  language  year of the report (2005 and 2008)  country name  question

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23 Aarhus Clearinghouse is the central node of a network of national and information nodes, many with their own Clearinghouses

24 Role of Aarhus Centres Serve as article 5 community access points and repositories of national and local environmental information (A.4.1) Serve as information or, where designated by National authorities, National nodes of the Clearinghouse Mechanism (A.2.1, A etc.) Environmental communicators networks in EECCA (A.14.1, B.3) Contributor to Aarhus Convention Communication Strategy (B.3.1-3)

25 Role of Aarhus Centres (2) Training centres for environmental decision-makers, NGOs, professionals and other stakeholders (A.1.1, A.5.2, A.6.1) Sustainable production and consumption / PRTR training for citizens and entreprises Public consultation facilitators (A.5.1)

26 Third party distribution of environmental information: the example of pollutant registry data

27 Thank you for your attention


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