Transparency, access to information, stakeholder participation

REC stands up for good environmental governance during German OSCE Chairmanship in 2016

January 29, 2016

OSCE_2016Good environmental governance and sustainable development are the focus of the 1st Preparatory Meeting of the 24th OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum on January 25-26, 2016, convened by the German OSCE Chairmanship. Klaus Topfer, former Executive Director of the UN Environmental Programme and former German Federal Minister for the Environment delivered a keynote address underscoring the importance of sustainable development as "the new name for peace" and the need to "find new and better ways to counter the externalisation of costs that stem from the exploitation of natural resources, within societies but also among world regions."

Invited by the German OSCE Chairmanship, the REC moderated the session "Transparency, access to information, and stakeholder participation" with panellists from the Ministry of Environment of Georgia, the European Environment Agency, the Aarhus Centre in Khujand (Tajikistan), and a German company for modern democratic planning and decision making. The panellists brought insights from their respective institutions and initiatives, leading to the following conclusion: the keys to good governance are effective stakeholder participation mechanisms for environmentally sound investment and development projects; enhanced transparency in environmental decision making; and the bridging of local communities, local authorities and the private sector.

OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier stressed that "creating and sustaining an enabling environment for a vocal civil society, an informed and responsive public, and efficient institutions for sound management of the environment and natural resources, will continue to be our priority in the OSCE."

In this respect, the role of the REC and its cooperation with OSCE in the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) was reinforced by a statement from Marta Szigeti Boniferrt, Executive Director of the REC, at a meeting with high-level officials, experts and key stakeholders from the OSCE's 57 participating States and 11 Partners for Co-operation, and representatives of the business community, international organisations, civil society and academia.

The meeting also focused on best practices related to good environmental governance, on how good environmental governance enables sustainable economic development, and on the role of environmental legislation in the context of business and investment. The potential of business contributions to sustainable development through commitment to seeking shared value and through commitments to environmental compliance and innovation was highlighted. The German Federal Ministry for the Environment pointed to the risks of climate change and the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals: "We need to stand up for good governance. Only then can sustainable development be promoted and environmental standards correctly implemented."

In assuming the OSCE Chairmanship in 2016, Germany is taking on responsibility for security and cooperation in Europe. During its OSCE Chairmanship in 2016, Germany will call for fostering dialogue and restoring trust, thus enhancing long-term security in Europe. Acknowledging good governance is a prerequisite for long-term sustainable connectivity and closer economic exchange.

The Second Preparatory Meeting will be convened in Berlin on May 19-20, 2016 and a Concluding Meeting will be held in Prague on September 14-16. Further information is available at www.osce.org and www.rec.org/envsec.