Multilateral environmental conventions and national legislation are important for the protection of the environment and the shift toward circularity. Their successful implementation greatly relies on evidence-based, easily accessible information, effective public participation and access of all interested stakeholders to justice. These three essential components are furthered by the Aarhus Convention (1) . Currently, 12 Mediterranean countries and the European Union are already Parties to the Aarhus Convention. By securing effective access to information and to justice, as well as engagement of the public, accession to the Convention by the rest of the Mediterranean countries, can advance the implementation of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration and facilitate the smooth roll-out of green and fair economy programmes, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its Sustainable Development Goals, the Union for the Mediterranean’s 2030 GreenerMed Agenda, the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD) of the UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention system, the Mediterranean Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development, the compliance with, and enforcement of, the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols, and a series of national strategies and policies.

Being a Party to the Convention significantly contributes to countries’ efforts to promote citizen-centric environmental governance and environmentally sound policies. It also encourages investments, particularly “green” ones, by having in place:

  • an attractive and clear legal framework to encourage investments, capacity building support and bi- and multilateral cooperation,
  • measures promoting social acceptance and conflict prevention, especially with regard to large infrastructure projects.

A Mediterranean Accession Agenda to the Aarhus Convention (MAAAC) has been elaborated to guide the region in a harmonised way. With EU support via the WES project and via a multi-stakeholder effort, the MAAAC was developed with the secretariat of the Aarhus Convention, the Union for the Mediterranean, the UNEP/MAP Barcelona Convention Secretariat, the UfM Parliamentary Assembly (Energy, Environment and Water Committee), the Circle of Mediterranean Parliamentarians for Sustainable Development, the Mediterranean Information Office for Environment and Sustainable Development and the MEPIELAN Centre.

The MAAAC provides all the information needed for a country to prepare and eventually put in motion the mechanisms needed to accede to the Aarhus Convention.

Read the full MAAAC in English here

Read the this news in French here

(1) Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Protecting your environment: The power is in your hands – Quick guide to the Aarhus Convention | UNECE – available in Arabic too)