On November 2, 2018, the European ECO Forum organised a conference for non-governmental organisations from 11 countries of the EECCA region. The conference was held in Lviv (Ukraine) with the support of the German Environment Agency (UBA) and was part of our Espoo Convention project. You will find conference materials here:
2. Espoo Convention and its Protocol - presentation by Andriy Andrusevych, Society & Environment
3. Relevant Regional Developments - presentation by Elena Laevskaya, Ecopravo
4. Relevant Regional Developments - presentation by Oleg Pecheniuk, Ecological Expertiza
5. European ECO Forum and other NGOs in the process - presentation by Mara Silina, European ECO Forum
6. NGO practical Experiences:
- Ilya Trombitsky, Eco-Tiras
- Siarhei Mahonau, Ecohome
- Oleg Pecheniuk, Ecological Expertiza
- Priska Lueger, Oekobuero
If you are located in a country where the project will be constructed (the “country of origin”), you can only enforce the application of the Espoo Convention. You should push your government to apply it, inform citizens in the neighbouring country about their rights and help to exercise them.
However, if you are concerned about a project that will be located in another country (in the “affected country”), you have specific procedural rights. But only if the following two questions can be answered with a “yes”, you can exercise your rights to information and participation:
- Is a proposed project listed in Appendix I to the Espoo Convention?
- Is it likely to cause a significant adverse transboundary impact?
Lack of notification is probably the most frequent violation of the Convention. You can check whether a notification has been sent to your country by contacting your national focal point for the Espoo Convention (normally this is the Ministry of Environment). If no notification was sent, you can push your government to contact the country of origin and also put pressure on the country of origin yourself by contacting the focal point there or by contacting NGOs.
Note: If your government informs another country that it does not want to enter into consultations, this stops the whole process. It means you will not be consulted under the Espoo Convention.
You must be notified about the proposed project if the countries concerned have decided to enter into consultations. You have the right to be informed about the proposed project and submit your comments or objections. This is a joint obligation of your country and the country of origin. Today, many governments use electronic mail and websites to inform the public about such projects.
It is not enough to have only brief information about the proposed activity. Detailed documentation on environmental impact assessment (EIA documentation) must be developed and distributed to the public concerned.
You can express your comments or objections on the proposed project in several ways: at a public hearing in your country, by submitting written comments to your authorities (focal point of the Espoo Convention) or even directly to the relevant authorities of the country of origin.
The final decision to authorize a planned activity must take due account of your comments. It must include reasons and considerations on which the decision is based.
How to face upcoming problems?
In any case, the first tool to ensure compliance is national remedies (administrative procedures, courts).
At the same time, the Convention has a special body entrusted to oversee implementation of the Convention – the Implementation Committee.
As a member of the public, you can send a complaint (formally called “information”) to the Implementation Committee alleging that a country failed to implement the Convention. Your complaint may allege non-compliance either by your own by another country.
In addition, if another state disregarded the requirements of the Convention, you can encourage your government to file a submission in a specific case. This would automatically trigger the case in the Implementation Committee.