“A new protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights on the right to a healthy environment is in your hands”. This was the message Spyros Papadatos, Bureau member of the Advisory Council on Youth, gave to the Presidents of the Parliaments of the 47 Council of Europe member states on 21 October 2021 in Athens, on the occasion of a conference organised by the Hellenic Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
Speaking in a session on #EnvironmentRightNow: national parliaments and the right to a healthy and sustainable environment, Spyros Papadatos was one of three keynote speakers alongside the Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, Kakha Kuchava and the Speaker of the Parliament of Finland Anu Vehviläinen.
Treating the climate crisis as something that is alien to our realities, whose impact will only be felt decades from now, Spyros Papadatos exclaimed decisionmakers are deceiving themselves. The extreme weather conditions of recent months in European countries are concrete evidence that the climate crisis is not only at our doorsteps but has entered our homes.
Quoting the declaration issued by the Georgian presidency of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers in 2020, Spyros Papadatos suggested the fact that the climate crisis is also a human rights crisis is something we still fail to fully comprehend and accept. ‘A healthy environment is a precondition for the preservation of life on our planet and, therefore, for the very enjoyment by every human being of his or her inherent rights and liberties under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights’.
Spyros Papadatos recommended Parliaments implement sustainability within their internal working structures and practices, quoting the youth sector’s sustainability checklist which aims to ensure that it practices what it preaches.
He concluded his speech by calling on national parliaments and decisionmakers to create structures, similar to the Council of Europe youth sector’s co-managed structure, in order to consult young people in any decision on the environment and the climate crisis.
The European Conference of Presidents of Parliament brings together Speakers and Presidents of:
- the parliaments of the 47 member States of the Council of Europe;
- the parliaments of the states enjoying observer or partner for democracy status with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe;
- and of international parliamentary assemblies.
The parliaments of central Asian and Maghreb countries also take part.
The Conference has been organised under the auspices of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe since 1975. It takes place every other year, in Strasbourg or in a host country. Topics on the agenda include prominent political issues.