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Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure that I address you on the occasion of the
7th Council of Europe Conference on the European Landscape Convention, which takes place in the framework of the Chairmanship of Andorra of the Committee of Ministers. I would like to extend my warmest welcome to Mr Francesc Camp, Minister of Tourism and Environment of Andorra.
European landscapes are part of our living environment and are of fundamental importance to our individual and social well-being, quality of life and identity. They play an important role in the cultural, ecological, environmental and social fields, and through tourism they also represent a valuable resource for economic activity.
Technical developments and the needs of our economies lead to constant pressure on resources and the cultural heritage. In too many cases we have witnessed the destruction of landscapes, or developments which have rendered extraordinary landscapes unremarkable.
It is sometimes difficult to reconcile the conflicting needs of our societies and to sustain landscape as an important resource. But we owe it to future generations to preserve and manage this valuable but fragile common heritage.
The European Landscape Convention is an excellent example of an innovative legal instrument which has clearly set its place in the international legislation dealing with the principles of sustainable development.
All citizens must take part in the preservation of the quality of the landscape but public authorities have a special duty to define the general framework. The Convention considers that landscape protection, management and planning entail "rights and responsibilities for everyone" and establishes the general legal principles which should serve as a basis for adopting national landscape policies and establishing international co-operation.
Through its ratification by 38 Council of Europe member states, this Convention has become an important instrument for policies and legislation in the field of landscape and environment. It has prompted numerous positive changes and developments in local, regional and national legislation and policies.
We have much to learn from each other's experiences in the field of landscape preservation. The need to act in co-operation and to promote mutual assistance is set forth in the Convention. Such collaboration is imperative to ensuring methodological exchanges of experiences across Europe.
The aim of this Conference is to present to all member and observer States of the Council of Europe, and to international governmental and non-governmental institutions and organisations, the progress made in the implementation of the Convention, and practical questions related to its implementation.
I am particularly pleased to learn that governments and regional authorities are working together with the Secretariat to prepare the first phase of the Council of Europe Information System on the implementation of the Convention. This monitoring system will contribute to developing a "common intelligence", which will no doubt enhance the effectiveness of measures taken under the Convention.
The Convention is not less relevant now than 13 years ago when it was opened for signature in Florence. On the contrary, in the current economic, social and institutional crisis in Europe it serves as a useful reminder and a guarantee for the principles it was established to defend.
It is with this in mind that I wish you lots of success in your work over these two days.
My best regards and thanks to Mrs Festas and Mrs Chevanon for the promotion of the Convention.