Council of Europe Environmental Protection and Human Rights, High-Level Conference organised by the Georgian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
In a declaration made on the 27th February in Strasbourg at a conference on environmental protection and human rights, the Georgian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers called to review the relevant Council of Europe legal arsenal and complement it by adopting a recommendation and a strategy in this field.
Beyond the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (1979) and the European Landscape Convention (2000), the Council of Europe has developed further legal standards that need to be implemented and upgraded in light of current urgent environmental and climate challenges, says the declaration.
In an address delivered by Krisztina Kinces, the Chair of the Council of Europe Conference on the European Landscape Convention, she stated that
‘landscape must become a mainstream political concern since it plays such an important role in the well-being of people, their quality of life, and their future. Well-conceived policies will help to combat climate change and poor air quality. Giving people an active role in decision-making on landscape, will help them identify with the areas and towns where they live. A good experience in the participatory planning process will ensure their continued involvement helping to promote sustainable development and respect of the area concerned, appreciating and enjoying a landscape that has an important bearing on social initiatives and economic success.’
Importantly, she went on to say that:
‘to achieve this, a multi-disciplinary, cross sectoral approach is also required, giving greater recognition to the expertise in landscape design, planning, science and management which can contribute hugely to a more holistic approach. Failure to do this, will not simply be ineffective, inefficient and counter-productive but also not in the public interest.’
A full copy of her speech is available here
Krisztina is a member of the Hungarian Association of Landscape Architects.
Also mentioned in the Conference were the following legal instruments - the Convention on the Protection of the Environment through Criminal Law (1998) which should be updated in order to provide clearer legal obligations, stronger sanctions for environmental crime and more effective international co-operation, in particular when organised crime is involved. The Convention on Civil Liability for Damage Resulting from Activities Dangerous to the Environment (1993) should also be reviewed to provide more effective protection.
The Georgian Presidency encouraged the European Court of Human Rights and the European Committee of Social Rights to further substantiate their case-law and give priority consideration to complaints involving issues of environmental protection.