Council of Europe Secretary General at the Congress Bureau: "Local and regional authorities play a key role in responding to the COVID crisis and that of climate change"

Bureau Strasbourg, France 9 June 2020
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Council of Europe Secretary General at the Congress Bureau:

"Faced with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in countries, cities and regions, authorities at all levels of government are doing their best to respond to the enormous challenges posed by the coronavirus," said the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić during an exchange of views with the Bureau of the Congress on 9 June 2020, by videoconference.

"While the virus is causing tragic loss of life, we must support preventing it from destroying our way of life and our values," she continued, presenting the guidelines developed to help our member states strike the right balance. in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. "Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are meaningless if they are not embodied in the lives of individuals everywhere in Europe. The role of local and regional authorities is therefore essential to give concrete expression to aspirations on the ground,” she added, welcoming the work carried out by local and regional authorities in the member states.

The exchange also focused on the commitment of cities and regions in the fight against climate change and for an environment respectful of human rights. "The links between environment and human rights are clear as evidenced by several decisions of the European Court of Human Rights", said Ms Marija Pejčinović Burić, recalling that this is a priority for the Organisation. "The Congress, from its experience at local and regional level, must play a key role in this process", she concluded.

Addressing the environmental challenge is one of the priorities of the Congress, which will continue its activities in order to guarantee communities the right to be consulted and involved in the development of national strategies for a healthy environment. In addition, the Congress will organise several thematic debates within the framework of its committees and during its session in October 2020, in particular on the local elections in times of crisis, the protection of vulnerable groups, the safeguarding of the European Charter of Local Self-Government and managing temporary changes in the distribution of powers. This work is part of the Congress contribution to the ministerial session in Athens in November 2020.


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For several years, the Congress has been strongly committed to promoting the right to a healthy environment in the 47 member states of the Council of Europe. It has adopted recommendations and resolutions on various crucial issues relating to environmental quality, climate change and energy transition. Today, this action is framed in the context of the implementation of the UN Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local and regional level – in particular Sustainable Development GOAL 13: “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”.

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