The 4th Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Reykjavík on 16-17 May 2023, adopted the Reykjavík Declaration including the Appendix V on "The Council of Europe and the environment", and underlined “the urgency of additional efforts to protect the environment, as well as to counter the impact of the triple planetary crisis of pollution, climate change and loss of biodiversity on human rights, democracy and the rule of law”, while committing the Council of Europe to strengthening its work “on the human rights aspects of the environment and initiate the Reykjavík process of focusing and strengthening the work of the Council of Europe in this field”.

The Reykjavík process gathered steam in 2023 throughout the organisation, culminating in the creation of a Department on the Reykjavík process and the Environment in the Directorate General on Human Rights and Rule of Law on 1 January 2024, as well as an Inter-Secretariat Task Force on the Environment which will develop a Strategy and an Action Plan on the Council of Europe and the Environment, in liaison with member States.

The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) promotes harmonised national policies and guidance for the conservation and the sustainable management of wild species and their habitats, including below water. It facilitates regional cooperation on conservation issues in Europe, through the wide-ranging participation of national, regional and local authorities, stakeholders, NGOs and civil society.

The Bern Convention is considered to be a privileged regional platform at European level for supporting the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which also strongly contributes to the achievement of Goal 14.

The Bern Convention has its own monitoring and standard-setting systems, including a complaint system, and is also recognised for its role in aligning nature conservation standards at pan-European level. Its most recent outcome on the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources is the adoption of its Guidance tool on the conservation of sea turtle nesting sites in the Mediterranean.

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