Community planning: Policy & Law: The Aarhus Convention

A convention established by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decisionmaking and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.

Ratified by 41 countries by April 2008.

The key parts on public participation are Articles 7 & 8

Article 7
Public participation concerning plans, programmes and policies relating to the environment

Each Party shall make appropriate practical and/or other provisions for the public to participate during the preparation of plans and programmes relating to the environment, within a transparent and fair framework, having provided the necessary information to the public. (Within this framework, article 6, paragraphs 3, 4 and 8, shall be applied.) The public which may participate shall be identified by the relevant public authority, taking into account the objectives of this Convention. To the extent appropriate, each Party shall endeavour to provide opportunities for public participation in the preparation of policies relating to the environment.

Article 8
Public participation during the preparation of executive regulations and/or generally applicable legally binding normative instruments

Each Party shall strive to promote effective public participation at an appropriate stage, and while options are still open, during the preparation by public authorities of executive regulations and other generally applicable legally binding rules that may have a significant effect on the environment. To this end, the following steps should be taken:

  1. Time-frames sufficient for effective participation should be fixed;
  2. Draft rules should be published or otherwise made publicly available; and
  3. The public should be given the opportunity to comment, directly or through representative consultative bodies.
The result of the public participation shall be taken into account as far as possible.

Further information:
housing for the Future
The Aarhus Convention, Aarhus, Denmark,
on 25 June 1998
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Last updated on: 22 December 2008