“Almost 70% of the decisions taken at the European level are implemented by local and regional authorities which means without involving local authorities combatting climate change is impossible,” stated Cemal Bas (Turkey, EPP), Congress Spokesperson on Environment and Climate Change, in an interview on the eve of World Environment Day on 5 June. “To resolve this world-wide crisis, we need to act locally with the support, and especially financial means, from the central governments,” he stressed.
The Congress is convinced that environmental protection is part of good governance at all levels and that a clean and healthy environment is essential for the enjoyment of human rights. Environmental issues and climate change are one of the thematic priorities of the Congress for 2021-2026.
The Congress is currently preparing a Human Rights Handbook with best practices giving local and regional officials the tools they need to protect the environment and prevent climate change and highlighting the human rights dimension of combatting climate change. Furthermore, a report providing guidelines and recommendations for local and regional authorities on the matter is expected to be presented at the 43rd Congress Session in October 2022.
The Congress is responsible for the local and regional dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the Council of Europe. The Congress's approach is based on three key principles: achieving SDGs is the shared responsibility of all levels of government; local and regional authorities must have the necessary competences and financial autonomy to achieve the goals in their respective areas; citizens must always remain at the heart of the action.