MEPIELAN Takes the Initiative to Establish an Aarhus Centre in Greece to Promote Participatory Environmental Democracy: a Leap Into the Future

The dawn of 2024 finds MEPIELAN CENTRE in full fledge of its multifarious activities. But beyond its lofty targets that drive its research and educational activities to be completed in 2024, as reflected in this edition of Bulletin, MEPIELAN has mobilized to provide an institutional response to a particularly important challenge that looms decisively at the core of sustainable governance and environmental democracy. The establishment of an Aarhus Centre in Greece as part of its activities, an initiative that has been launched and is being consistently pursued since the beginning of 2023.

The Aarhus Centres play a crucial role in promoting all three pillars of the 1998 Aarhus Convention, namely access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters, by providing platforms to engage citizens, governments and the private sector in dialogue on environmental challenges. Since 2002, the OSCE has supported the establishment, operation and networking of the Aarhus Centres, which today cover more than 60 Aarhus Centres in 15 countries across the OSCE region.

MEPIELAN's initiative for the establishment of an Aarhus Centre in Greece implements the specific relevant objectives of MEPIELAN, as set out in Articles 3 and 4 of its Constitution, as well as its strategic programme, as provided for in Article 5 of its Constitution. It is in line with the Centre's commitment to promote participatory environmental governance for the sustainable development of the Mediterranean region and beyond, in terms of building international common interest. And the Aarhus Convention clearly delivers a pioneering legal and governance framework for unleashing such a complex but critical transformative process.

The process started with a proposal to the UNECE Aarhus Convention Secretariat and was discussed at a preliminary online meeting in February 2023. The proposal was very well received, and with the consistent assistance of the UNECE Secretariat, contact was established with the OSCE, the Office of the Coordinator of Economic and Environmental Activities of the OSCE. In an online meeting with the OSCE Office in March 2013, a structured proposal entitled "Establishment of an Aarhus Centre in Greece" was presented, which was welcomed and opened the door for continued cooperation between the OSCE and the MEPIELAN Centre on this issue.

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