Addressing environmental challenges is one of the priorities of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, whose activities aim to guarantee communities the right to be consulted and involved in the development of national strategies for a healthy environment. Given worsening climate change, environmental challenges are increasingly being viewed from the angle of human rights – the right to life, health or private and family life – and international law.

For the last two decades, the Congress has been working on the different aspects related to the quality of the environment, the impact of climate change on citizen’s lives and the energy transition. The basic premise of Congress action is that local and regional authorities are required to adopt strategies to respond to environmental challenges and adapt their communities accordingly. 

Current Congress work on this issue includes encouraging a green reading of the European Charter of Local Self-Government and an additional Protocol to the Charter that would enshrine the right of local authorities to participate in decision making on environmental matters, a revision of the European Urban Charter II and the third volume of the Human Rights Handbook for Local and Regional Authorities

The Congress has developed a series "Human rights handbook for local and regional authorities" to provide a practical tool for local and regional elected representatives, but also for the staff of territorial administrations. The third volume of the Human Rights Handbook is dedicated to the environment and sustainable development. It presents the international legal framework for human rights and environmental protection, explains how sub-national authorities contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and covers the main challenges in this respect. This volume addresses transport, housing, sustainable economy, education, public procurement, and local strategies for sustainable development.

  Download: Human Rights Handbook Volume 3

Available below are some short extracts from the handbook, along with an example chapter on 'Mobility and transport'.

The Congress has published a booklet on “How to make your town a better place” to raise children’s awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. The aim is to encourage 6- to 11-year-olds to get involved in the implementation of SDGs in their own communities.

The booklet comes with guidelines for local and regional authorities.

  Download: “How to make your town a better place

  For more information: Children and sustainable cities: Congress adopts guidelines for local and regional authorities

Congress texts