Strasbourg, 10 January 2010
DRAFT SYNOPSIS OF THE MEETING ON 30 SEPTEMBER 2009
The Sustainable Territorial Development Committee of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe, meeting at the Palais de l’Europe, Strasbourg, on 30 September 2009, with Anne-Marie Chavanon in the Chair,
1. Adopted the agenda [CONF/TER(2009)OJ4] without amendment.
2. Adopted the synopsis of the meeting held on 24 June 2009 [CONF/TER(2009)SYN3] as it stood.
3. Debate on “Citizens’ participation in sustainable development”
Held its second session devoted to governance, on the sub-theme “What are the tools and the expectations?”.
3.1 The tools: reference texts
Heard a noteworthy presentation by the Executive Secretary of the Aarhus Convention, Jeremy Wates, on trends in participative governance since the Rio Convention. It noted the stipulation in the Aarhus Convention, which remained a fundamental reference text, that “Each Party shall strive to promote effective public participation at an appropriate stage … while options are still open …”.
Council of Europe tools
Exchanged views with the senior officials and parliamentarians of the other Council of Europe bodies on the Organisation’s ground-breaking conventions and instruments in preparation :
Ø European Landscape Convention and Berne Convention, presented by Robert Palmer, Council of Europe Director of Culture and Cultural and Natural Heritage. The first of these conventions recommends associating the population from the very moment of defining landscape. The second gives factual expression to a modus operandi based on partnership between NGOs and public officials.
Ø Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government
on the right to participate in the affairs of local authorities (Doc CM (2009)76), to be opened for signature by States on 16 November 2009 in à Utrecht, by Miljenco Doric, Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Local and Regional Democracy of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (member of parliament, Croatia). The text places information to citizens at the centre of the operative provisions.
Ø Additional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights on the right to a healthy environment by José Mendes Bota, rapporteur of the Committee on Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (member of parliament, Portugal), a fundamental right in relation to participation.
Ø Reports of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe on furthering citizen participation in local public management, by Ulrich Bohner, Secretary General of the Congress, who described the long-standing commitment of the Congress to citizen participation in public action.
Ø Utrecht Agenda, and especially the Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at the local level, together with the Label of Good Governance with the participation of Childeric Schaapveld, Council of Europe Director of Democratic Institutions and Pierre Schreiber, officer responsible for the Strategy, who presented the “crystal dodecahedron”, the distinction awarded to authorities receiving the Label.
3.2 Citizen expectations
Ø was informed by John Hontelez, Executive Director of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) of the development of the Arhus Convention thanks to the NGOs, and conversely of its scant dissemination in the world of voluntary service. Success stories and model projects should be reported for better awareness-raising. The principles of the Convention should be subsumed into all sectors. Ecological innovation must also be social: learning to live with limitations, and practising solidarity.
Ø took note of exemplary cases recorded in the field of environment, spatial planning and citizen participation by Professor Radi Radev, President of Eco-forum (Bulgaria).
3.4 Contribution to the Utrecht Conference
Adopted a contribution to the Conference of European Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Government on 16 and 17 November 2009 in Utrecht, advocating participation from the preliminary stage of projects onwards, and collaboration founded on the Aarhus Convention and the Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at the local and regional level which would constitute a tangible criterion attribute for the award of the Label of Good Governance to local authorities.
Decided that the contribution would be attached to this synopsis and made available to the participants in the Utrecht Conference.
3.5 Joined in the encouragement to co-action given by Annelise Oeschger, Honorary President of the Conference of INGOs.
4. Follow-up to the committee’s work
Ø Noted the work undertaken by the Biodiversity Taskforce headed by Edith Wenger:
preparation of a day for all three pillars in the context of the International Year of Biodiversity, during the April part-session (probably on the Wednesday).
drafting of a text suitable for signature by the three entities representing Europe’s citizens, which would be a considerable advance in the field of consultation and co-action.
Edith Wenger’s call for a reply to the biodiversity observation sheet included in the file handed to the participants, intended for non-specialists, so that the findings might be presented in January.
4.2 European Local Democracy Week (13-19 October 2009).
took note of the contacts made by certain NGOs with associations of mayors, and of the need to commit all resources that could be mobilised in order to raise local government awareness about this event desired throughout Europe.
4.3 Heard the report on participation by committee members in the work of other pillars of the Council of Europe and other international organisations.
5. Next meetings
The meeting for the Winter Session would open the Year of Biodiversity and prepare for the event on this theme at the Spring Session.
This is an unadopted draft document.
Under no circumstances shall it be considered binding on the persons referred to therein.
Sustainable Territorial Development Committee
Contribution to the Conference of European Ministers
responsible for Local and Regional Government
16-17 November 2009 – Utrecht (Netherlands)
Considering Chapter 8 of Action 21 and Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development providing that each individual should have “appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities […] and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes”;
Considering the Aarhus Convention which provides that there should be public participation “when all options are open and effective public participation can take place”;
Considering Recommendation CM/REC(2001)19 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the participation of citizens in local public life;
Considering Recommendation CM/REC(2009)2 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the evaluation, auditing and monitoring of participation and participation policies at local and regional level;
Considering Articles 1 and 2 of the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority;
Considering the established participative framework of the Council of Europe conventions such as the European Landscape Convention and the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats;
Considering the revised Urban Charter, the “manifesto for a new urbanity”, adopted by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe;
The Sustainable Territorial Development Committee:
- supports the implementation of the Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at the local level adopted by the Conference of European Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Government in Valencia (Spain) in 2007, introducing tools to strengthen participatory democracy at the local level;
- supports the recommendations of the Congress on good governance as a factor of sustainable economic development of regions, on intercultural cities, and on electronic democracy;
- welcomes the opening to civil society featured in the report by Ms Mari Kiviniemi, Minister for Public Administration and Local Government of Finland, on “How to enhance the work of the Council of Europe in the field of local and regional democracy” (April 2009);
- wishes the Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process, adopted by the Conference of INGOs on 1 October 2009, to further the development of a common pan-European tool for identifying innovative governance practice.
To make this participation effective, the Sustainable Territorial Development Committee asks expressly:
- that a charter of good governance be adopted by the local and regional authorities on the basis of the twelve principles that constitute the Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at the local level;
- that a standing three-way relationship be established between elected representatives, technicians or promoters and representatives of the population, that is between those taking a decision, those implementing it, and those at whom it is directed;
- that there develop a process of sharing and not of political, technical or economic power. It is not a matter of challenging the rules of democratic representation ordained by the legal systems of member states, but of promoting the enrichment of a relationship among co-agents. Decisions consistent with a concern for sustainable development will be all the more effective for having been the outcome of joint preparation, and for having been understood and accepted by the population;
It is vital to recall that a profitable partnership can only be cemented if the choices are still open and the projects still reversible, and only if the levels of information and training ensure the relevance of the exchange;
The Sustainable Territorial Development Committee wishes sincere and innovative practices to be a benchmark for the award of the Label of Good Governance bestowed by the Council of Europe.
Text adopted by the Sustainable Territorial Development Committee on 30 September 2009