Notes on MEAs and Cities

Participation of Civil Society in the Implementation of MEAs

Participation in Meetings

74. In conventions such as the Basel Convention, CBD, CITES and the Ramsar Convention, NGOs, private industry, civic groups, local communities and indigenous groups are allowed to participate in the deliberations of the Parties. For the CBD, this does not necessarily apply to meetings that are not open-ended such as technical expert groups and liaison groups. The Meetings of the World Heritage Committee are attended by intergovernmental organizations and NGOs as representatives, observers or advisers, while representatives of local communities and indigenous groups are allowed as members of a State Party delegation or an NGO. Sometimes representatives of private industry are invited to Committee Meetings. For some biodiversity-related conventions, such as the Ramsar Convention, CMS, ACCOBAMS, AEWA, ASCOBANS and EUROBATS, civil society representatives are primarily NGOs.

75. The MOPs of the Montreal Protocol are open to NGOs, private industry, scientists and expert organizations in the field of ozone protection as observers. NGOs, private industry, and academia are invited to the meetings of the Executive Committee of the Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund and its subsidiary bodies. There are almost 400 NGOs accredited to participate as observers in the meetings of the COP, SBSTA and SBI of the UNFCCC, unless at least one-third of the Parties object, and are given the opportunity to address these meetings. They are divided into three main constituency groups: environmental NGOs, business and industry associations, and local governments and municipal authorities.

76. The Rotterdam Convention, the Stockholm Convention, the Vienna Convention and its Montreal Protocol have always encouraged the participation of civil society-NGOs, business and industry associations, labour unions, academia, civic groups and indigenous groups-in its meetings. The participation of civil society in the Rotterdam Convention will be decided when it enters into force. In the case of the Stockholm Convention over 300 non-state organizations, including environmental, indigenous people, industry and academia groups have been allowed to participate.

77. In the UNCCD, the participation of civil society is expected at all levels. Article 6 of the Regional Implementation Annex for Africa establishes a consultative and participatory process involving appropriate levels of government, local communities and NGOs. A Supplementary Fund has been established to support the participation of accredited NGOs from affected developing countries to attend meetings as observers

78. Given its multisectoral scope and its focus on sustainable development, the Barcelona Convention meetings are open to a broad range of civil society representatives, including NGOs, civic groups, local communities and industry as observers. Representatives of these groups can serve as members of the Mediterranean Commission for Sustainable Development and are elected by the Parties to the convention. A similar range of civil society representatives are invited as observers to the meetings of the Cartagena Convention. For SACEP, no arrangements have been made for the participation of non-state actors.

Relation of Civil Society to MEA Secretariats

79. Secretariats such as that of the CBD and the Basel Convention maintain regular contacts with civil society organizations for exchange of information and views, receipt of documentation and preparation of background papers. The CITES Secretariat works closely with civil society groups, particularly private industry. Wetlands International in the past has assisted the AEWA Secretariat in technical documents for the MOP. The Ramsar Convention Bureau maintains close working relations with NGOs and encourages the participation of stakeholders and local communities. The World Heritage Bureau receives information from representatives of civil society on the state of conservation of cultural and natural properties.

80. The UNFCCC has an IGO Outreach Officer and an NGO Outreach Officer whose roles are to maintain contact with the accredited IGOs and NGOs intra and intersessionally.

81. Civil society has been encouraged to provide inputs to the activities of the Basel Convention Secretariat. The secretariat also participates in activities organized by NGOs and industry associations. The relationship of civil society to the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat has not yet been decided. For the Stockholm Convention, the relationship is primarily limited to the exchange of information.

82. The UNCCD Secretariat is responsible for the accreditation process of NGOs and ensuring an adequate flow of information to NGOs regarding the convention. It also maintains regular contacts with them regarding activities being implemented and required follow-up.

83. The secretariats of regional seas programmes such as the Barcelona and Cartagena Conventions actively foster closer working relations with civil society, the former with its Mediterranean Commission for Sustainable Development and the latter primarily with biodiversity and marine pollution groups.

Participation of Civil Society in the Implementation of MEAs

84. Conventions such as the CBD and CITES recognize the involvement of all relevant stakeholders as fundamental. In the case of the CBD, particular emphasis is placed on the involvement of indigenous and local communities. In CITES civil society plays an important role in (a) providing technical knowledge, (b) awareness raising, ©assisting the secretariat in communicating with non-parties, (d) promoting implementation in the field and (e) gathering and transmitting information about possible non-compliance. The Ramsar Convention encourages the participation of stakeholders, local communities and NGOs in the implementation of the convention. IUCN, ICOMOS and ICCROM support the implementation of the convention, the first two in a formal advisory capacity and the latter in capacity building. NGOs assist CMS in developing conservation projects that support the implementation of the convention, an in some countries play very important roles in the implementation of relevant national conservation policies. Wetland International executes some projects in support of AEWA. NGOs also assist Parties to ASCOBANS, EUROBATS and AEWA in implementing these agreements at the national level.

85. For the Montreal Protocol, representatives of civil society such as the International Pharmaceutical, Aerosol Consortium (IPAC), the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy, Friends of the Earth, the Pesticide Action Network, the Stockholm Environment Institute and Greenpeace act as catalysts and protagonists for the elimination of ozone depleting substances. They also monitor progress in the implementation of the protocol, identify alternative ozone-friendly substances and propose constructive measures for phasing out ozone depleting substances for the consideration of the Parties.

86. In the Basel Convention civil society plays a central role in its implementation, largely through the provision of scientific and technical expertise. This role has yet to be decided for the Rotterdam Convention. It is expected that civil society will play a role in pressuring governments to ratify and implement the convention and to alert authorities as to possible violations of convention obligations.

87. The decisions of the Parties to the UNCCD on the design and implementation of programmes to combat desertification and/or mitigate the effects of drought are to be taken with the participation of populations and local communities.

88. In regional seas programmes such as the Barcelona Convention and Action Plan, civil society collaborates closely in the implementation of programmes and projects. In the Cartagena Convention they are active in the development of project ideas, the dissemination of information and in generating support from governments. They also assist in monitoring compliance by reporting on the governments to their constituencies.


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