I am elated to welcome you in the new, post-pandemic digital edition of MEPIELAN E-Bulletin. Τhe refurbished digital edition of the 13 years-old Bulletin and the upgraded continuation of its academic and practitioner platform, providing a knowledge- and information-sharing forum that is hosting innovative ideas and a wide spectrum of scholarly views, reflects a first level response of the Bulletin to the challenges posed by the pandemic.
While the pandemic has been a devastating global event, bringing about significant negative consequences for all of us and at various levels, one can also trace a positive motivational aspect of its impact, directly related to the way we approach, comprehend, and manage the neglected or downgraded richness of the working interdependence of nature, human health and sustainability. Serving as a wake-up call, the pandemic reminded us of the crucial role that nature plays in supporting our well-being and the need for a more participatory, sustainable approach to our actions. In fact, and in a dramatic way, the pandemic has demonstrated the critical link between human health and the health of our environment, and compelled us, by recognizing the interlinkage between ecological integrity and human health, to promote more sustainable normative processes and practices that safeguard both.
We have become increasingly conscious of the catalytic effect of ingraining rights-based approaches, participatory processes, inclusive and equitable considerations in shaping governance and pursuing the implementation of the interdependence of nature, human health and sustainability. More importantly, we are challenged to transform societal, government and expert thinking into a more consistent relational, holistic, process and contextual understanding in comprehending, discussing and collectively managing current and emerging aspects of this interdependence.
MEPIELAN Centre is actively engaged in the advancement of this interdependence and is committed to the furtherance of participatory sustainability governance and environmental democracy at all levels, international, national and local. In the middle of the pandemic, MEPIELAN Centre, in its capacity as a member of the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development, carried out an interdisciplinary research project entitled “Mediterranean Accession Agenda to the Aarhus Convention” promoting a right-based approach to environmental governance in the whole Mediterranean and serving this interdependence. This project activated a flagship initiative on environmental governance implementing the Mediterranean Strategy on Sustainable Development 2016-2025 in the framework of the Barcelona Convention system (more details are available at the site of the Centre).
Nearing the post-pandemic period, MEPIELAN Centre, pursuing the full-fledged implementation of its Goals and Missions and in furtherance of its activities in the Mediterranean and beyond, was effectively developed into a Non- Profit Civil Organization (INGO). Strengthening its international cooperative ties and networks, MEPIELAN-INGO is geared towards the enlightenment, implementation and expansion of participatory sustainability governance and all innovative relational legal approaches associated with its support and advancement. In this context, MEPIELAN-INGO is working for the institutional implementation of the Aarhus Convention in Greece and in the Mediterranean region, embracing both its adequate multilevel and interlinked implementation and its going-beyond aspect delving into public trust approaches for its further reinforcement. The former has a vertical but, importantly, a horizontal operation – i.e. rights to access to information, public participation and access to justice, transboundary environmental decision-making, protection of environmental defenders, and also, implementative interlinkages with the SDGs and conventional environmental regimes and processes. The latter clusters capacity building in international negotiation, structuring governance-by-dialogue, promoting participatory knowledge, and igniting citizenship, inspiring leadership and giving legal flesh to intergenerational equity through fiduciary accounting.
The 2023 refurbished edition of MEPIELAN E-Bulletin, is a challenging, celebratory edition, containing insightful and very topical contributions. Jorge Juste-Ruiz authoritatively throws light into the process and birth of the BBJN Agreement, Elli Louka perceptively showcases and discusses the issues related to the governance of the pollution of outer space, Marina Soilemezidou provides a path to handling the conundrum of defining the Caspian Sea, George Raftopoulos critically deals with the issues related to the green hydrogen perspective and energy transition in the Mediterranean, and I delve into the relational process leading to the international recognition of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right. In the Opinions section, Alexandros Kailis skillfully highlights the governance canvas of the SDGs in Greece. I am grateful to my distinguished colleagues and friends Jorge and Elli for their important contributions and their many years’ support and collaboration. I greet the constructive contribution of Alexandros to one more edition of the Bulletin. I welcome Marina and George on board, and I am confident that our collaboration will continue to flourish in this post-pandemic period. Many thanks go to the research team (Maria Striga, George Raftopoulos and Ilias Diamantopoulos) for supplying the Bulletin with an interesting string of thematic news. Last, but not least, I wish to express my deepest appreciation to Tassos and Ilias Kapareliotis for their diligent work and our fruitful cooperation in building the new Bulletin Site, while retaining its connections with its old editions dating from 2010.
The message of this Bulletin remains abundantly clear: we “the peoples of this planet” can strive, in our multiple roles, towards a new sustainability age that prioritizes resilience, conservation, and a harmonious relationship between humanity and the natural world. “This world is a paltry thing unless all the world (all ages to come) may find what it seeks“ (SENECA, Natural Questions, 7.31.2 (“Pusilla res mundus est, nisi in illo quod quaerat omnis mundus habeat”)
About the author
Professor Emeritus of International Law, Panteion University, Athens, Greece, Fellow, C-EENRG, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom