Riga Declaration – For Stronger Environmental Democracy2008-06-13
”The right to receive information is an important human right, a necessary condition of independent media and an obligation to state institutions” Environment Minister Artūras Paulauskas speaking at the Third Conference of countries of the AAarhus Convention in Riga today. The international forum, which started on June 11, is attended by representatives of more than 50 countries including delegates of countries that have ratified and signed the United Nations Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, leaders of international organisations and other guests.
June 13, the last day of the conference, is dedicated to the most important events. Among participants are environment ministers of the Aarhus Convention, prominent politicians and top-ranking UN officials. The 10-year anniversary of the Convention was marked in a solemn ceremony today – it was adopted in the city of Aarhus, Denmark, on June 25, 1998. Participants of the Riga Conference discuss the achievements of the past decade in the implementation of the international agreement, the problems that emerged and the long-term strategy.
The Lithuanian society is working to exercise the right to receive information and participate in the making of decisions in the environment sector, as stipulated in the Aarhus Convention, said Minister Artūras Paulauskas. To achieve the goal, the country has already ratified the amendment to the Aarhus Convention regarding genetically modified organisms (GMO). The amendment, which describes opportunities for the society to take part in the decision-making regarding GMO was proposed during the second conference of the Aarhus Convention in Alma Ata in 2005. Minister Artūras Paulauskas also urged countries that have not ratified the document to do so without delay.
Lithuania is also among the countries that decided to endorse the Protocol on the registers of issued and transferred pollutants. The document stipulates that every country should set up and manage a public national register of released and transferred pollutants based on annual reports of economic entities. The register will provide more opportunities to the society to access information about environmental pollution.
Artūras Paulauskas expressed support to the provisions of the Declaration to be signed by environment ministers of countries of the Aarhus Convention later today, stressing the importance to following its sprit. The Declaration recognizes the important role of the society and environmental organisations and lawyers defending interests of the society in the making of environment-related decisions. The ministers to sign the Riga Declaration urged all countries to enhance the role even further.
Public Information Division, Tel. 266 3660
13 June 2008