6 December 2018
By Csaba Kiss, EMLA
2018 is a special year in the life of the Aarhus family as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Convention.
To celebrate this important date, the deputy Ombudsman for Future Generations initiated a cooperation with J&E’s Hungarian member organisation EMLA to hold a joint session on the achievements of the Aarhus Convention in Hungary.
This was also a good opportunity to kick-off the series of six training sessions on access to justice to be held in Hungary under the auspices of the ATOJ-EARL project. All elements were present: a prestigious venue (the Ombudsman Office), prominent presenters (the Deputy Ombudsman for Future Generations, a former and a current ACCC member, university professors and practising environmental lawyers) and a large audience.
The meeting was held on 21 November in Budapest, and approximately 50 persons attended it, mainly coming from the regional environmental competent authorities all across the country, but the judiciary, the academia and the civil sector were also represented.
Presentations in the morning reflected on the process leading to the adoption of the Convention, thanks to the testimonies of people involved in drafting the text of the first version.
The afternoon session was the actual training component of the meeting. As a starting point, a sociologist described why people want to participate and what patterns can be identified in participatory processes. Legal and practical barriers to access to justice were identified, together with provisions of the Convention and adjacent case law that helps members of the public participate in environmental decision-making. An EU and Visegrad 4 outlook on how other countries regulate and practice access to justice closed the day.
The event was funded by the EU Life program and the International Visegrad Fund.
Access to Justice is a fundamental means through which citizens and NGOs can support the implementation and enforcement of laws and policies to protect the environment. The goal of this ATOJ-EARL project is to achieve “Access to Justice for a Greener Europe”. It strives to enhance access to justice in environmental matters by providing information, training and support for the judiciary, public authorities and lawyers of eight European member states. ClientEarth and Justice and Environment are implementing this project with the financial support of the European Commission’s LIFE instrument.