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This meeting will bring together Aarhus Convention national focal points, Aarhus Centre managers, NGOs, representatives of OSCE field operations, representatives of the UNECE Aarhus Convention Secretariat and ENVSEC partners, as well as international experts, to share experiences, lessons learned and best practices regarding the implementation of the Aarhus Convention and to enhance networking among Aarhus Centres. The event is also aimed at strengthening the capacities of Aarhus Centres and other Aarhus Convention national stakeholders with respect to several priority issues related to the Convention.

Adopted on 25 June 1998 in the Danish city of Aarhus and in force since 2001, the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters broke new ground in securing citizens’ environmental rights.

To put the Convention’s principles into practice, the OSCE Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, together with the OSCE field operations and mainly through the Environment and Security (ENVSEC) Initiative, has been supporting the establishment and functioning of Aarhus Centres/Public Environmental Information Centres. Scattered at first, the Aarhus Centres have grown into a sizeable network over the last decade. There are currently 43 Aarhus Centres in 13 countries in South-Eastern Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia), Eastern Europe (Moldova, Belarus), the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia), and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan). In this initiative, the OSCE co-operates primarily with governments and with leading NGOs in the respective countries and also collaborates closely with the UNECE Aarhus Convention Secretariat.

Previous  annual Aarhus Centres meetings were organized by the OCEEA in Vienna (2009), Istanbul (2010) and Chisinau (2011). The recommendations provided during these meetings have been incorporated in the work programme and the activities of the Aarhus Centres throughout the OSCE region.