Focus areas

Information and Participation

Overview

Successful cooperation and risk reduction requires efforts at the national level through government, combined with cooperation among communities, experts and practitioners. The potential of NGOs and mass media in spreading reliable and useful environmental information must be used to improve awareness and dialogue on environment and security issues and to find and apply solutions. For example, multilateral environmental agreements provide governments with necessary guidance for addressing environmental problems. However, their implementation demands high political will as well as innovative and swift action beyond conventional measures, both of which benefit from informed and active civil society engagement.

The Information and Participation Focus Area targets the development of civil society's ability to participate in the discussion and resolution of environmental and security issues. ENVSEC has supported the implementation of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Environmental Decision-making, and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.

Under OSCE's leadership, ENVSEC has been supporting a network of 41 Aarhus Centres in 12 countries. These Centres raise public awareness on environment and security issues, disseminate environmental information, organize public hearings on strategies and projects that have environmental implications; monitor environmental hotspots, provide legal advice on environmental matters and serve as public outreach facilities for the ENVSEC Initiative. Hosted by the Ministries of Environment, local administrations or leading NGOs, these Centers are governed in most of the locations through Advisory Boards that include government and NGO representatives. The Aarhus Centres Network is supported through financial contributions by ENVSEC, the OSCE and its Field Operations as well as by several bilateral donors.

ENVSEC's strong civil society dimension is reflected in projects to strengthen the ability of non-governmental and media organizations to inform the public about environment and security issues. Through the Civic Action for Security and Environment (CASE) Small Grants Programme, ENVSEC also supports NGO projects in environment and security.

Objective

To empower civil society to manage and mitigate environment security risks.

Areas of assistance

ENVSEC helps public authorities and civil society to undertake participatory planning processes that include security issues in environment policy-making. It also trains journalists, media and youth and the Aarhus Centres to communicate widely on security implications of environmental problems. By fostering dialogue and partnerships between government and civil society organizations, ENVSEC has improved understanding of environmental impact assessments and socially and economically responsible environment practices for example in mining, clean up of hazardous material, adaptation to climate change, urban development and management of transboundary natural resources.