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July 2011

CONVENTION ON ENVIRONMENT AND HUMAN RIGHTS CRUCIAL FOR ECOLOGICAL PROTECTION – BAN

Source: UN News Center, 4.07.2011

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today lauded the world’s leading international convention on environment and human rights as a powerful tool for environmental protection and the promotion of civil rights, saying the instrument also helped to combat climate change and air and water pollution.

“The Convention’s critical focus on involving the public is helping to keep governments accountable,” Mr. Ban said in a message to the fourth meeting of Parties to the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters – the so-called Aarhus Convention.

“There have been many achievements over the past decade, including the entry into force of the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers, the first global legally binding instrument of its kind,” Mr. Ban noted in the message, delivered on his behalf by Jan Kubis, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

He said that the growing caseload of the Convention’s Compliance Committee, which offers members of the public the opportunity to trigger action, is a healthy sign of constructive engagement.

Mr. Ban also pointed out that the convention is building synergies through cooperation with other international organizations, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Collaboration with international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is also yielding results, he added.

The Secretary-General said he was pleased that this week’s meeting focuses on the role of the convention in promoting sustainable development, pointing out the as the world prepares for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil next year, it should be remembered that the convention is one of the major results of the Rio Declaration adopted at the first Earth Summit nearly 20 years ago.

“As the convention enters its second decade, we applaud the accomplishments of the past while acknowledging the challenges ahead. I trust that the treaty’s spirit of openness, participation and justice will ensure that the public stays constructively engaged in order to achieve even greater progress in the future,” Mr. Ban added.

UNECE WORKSHOP ON EQUITABLE ACCESS TO WATER AND SANITATION OPENS IN GENEVA ON 4 JULY 2011

Source: UNECE, 4.07.2011

The workshop on equitable access to water and sanitation organized under the leadership of the Government of France, with the support of the UNECE secretariat of the Protocol on Water and Health, and in cooperation with the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, will be held in Geneva on 4-5 July 2011.

Different stakeholders responsible for or involved in the process of developing policies, programmes and measures for ensuring access to water and sanitation in the pan-European region, including governmental representatives, water and health managers, local authorities and representatives of academia, research institutes, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, will meet with the aim to exchange information and discuss good practices on how to ensure equitable access to water and sanitation for all.

The access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation was declared by the UN General Assembly as a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights (GA/10967 adopted on 28 July 2010). In addition, the Human Rights Council affirmed that the right to water and sanitation is contained in existing human rights treaties, and that States have the primary responsibility to ensure its full realization.

Yet, in the pan-European region there are 140 million people without access to safe drinking water and even more without access to sanitation. These figures hide important inequities. First of all, countries with economies in transition have lower levels of access to water and sanitation compared with Western European ones. But there are also severe inequities within countries:

The participants of the workshop will discuss the specific challenges and debate the political, economic and practical implications of equitable access to water and sanitation. The workshop will contribute to identify good practices, success factors and lessons learned and will be an important step forward in the process of promoting equitable access to water and sanitation.