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The Twenty-second Meeting of the Working Group of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention

Tuesday, 15 January 2019
The twenty-second meeting of the Working Group of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention was held from 19-21 June 2018 in Palais de Nations in Geneva. The meeting was attended by a wide range of representatives of the Convention’s Contracting Parties, non-governmental organizations, academia, businesses and international organizations. The utmost objective of the meeting was to review the progress in implementing the 2015-2017 and the current work programmes and discuss a number of items, including the progress achieved in promoting access to information, public participation and access to justice and in ratification of the Convention's amendment on genetically modified organisms as well as the further promotion of the Convention and different financial matters. The meeting involved a thematic session on access to information, a thematic session on promoting the application of the principles of the Convention in international forums and a special segment to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention.

The thematic session on access to information was  organized in the format of an interactive panel discussion followed by a general discussion concentrated on the following key issues: (i) the benefits of providing public access to environmental information and the challenges encountered, (ii) the scope of environmental information, (iii) the providers of information, (iv) exceptions to the provision of information and grounds for refusal, (v) the format of the information to be provided and timeliness, and (vi) dissemination of real-time, up-to-date, accurate and functional environmental information in forms and formats meeting the needs of different users. 

During the thematic session on promoting the application of the principles of the Convention in international forums, the delegates' discussion focused mainly on the promotion of transparency and effective public participation in international environmental decision-making processes particularly related to sustainable waste and chemicals management. In this context, a number of panel presentations and round table discussions were conducted regarding issues related to processes taking place within the framework of the UNEP's Hazardous Chemical Conventions, namely the Basel Convention, the Rotterdam Convention and the Stockholm Convention as well as the Minamata Convention on Mercury and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). Furthermore, the participants had the chance to consider the progress made regarding four items already discussed during previous thematic sessions. More specifically, these items include: (i) climate-related processes with the focus on lessons learned from the twenty-third session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and preparations for COP-24, (ii) stakeholder engagement in the United Nations Environment Assembly and the UNEP access to information policies, (iii) Sustainable Development Goals-related processes, and (iv) International Financial Institutions-related processes. 

Finally, the meeting featured a special segment to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention during which the delegates heard testimonies by former and present Chairs of different bodies of the Convention, representatives of governments, non-governmental organizations, academia and other experts, who played an important role in promoting the Convention. Moreover, youth was invited to discuss with delegates how they considered Aarhus rights help them to create a sustainable future. Parties and different stakeholders were also given opportunity to network and explored potential areas for matching needs with the available expertise. Lastly, Parties and stakeholders were invited to contribute to several communication activities that were planned to mark the Anniversary. 


Sources: UNECE
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