Held at the Central European Environmental Data Request Facility, (CEDAR), and attended by eight INFOTERRA national focal points (NFPs) representing Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, and Slovenia, the workshop focused mainly on the issue of public access to environmental information and the practical measures required to facilitate access in each country.
The workshop was co-chaired by Ms. Milena Roudn representing the Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic and Dr. Johannes Mayer of the Austrian Federal Environment Agency. Dr. Mayer is also the Central European representative on the INFOTERRA Advisory Committee.
Guest speaker, Ms. Silvia Pultz of the Austrian Federal Ministry for the Environment, Youth and Family Affairs, presented an overview of the draft convention on access to environmental information and public participation in environmental decision making (Aarhus Convention). After a wide-ranging and in-depth discussion on the 'information pillar' (Articles 1-5) of the draft convention, the participants reached a consensus on their national responses to the provisions stipulated in the 'information pillar' which was articulated as the Vienna Statement by UNEP/INFOTERRA National Focal Points of Central Europe on the draft convention on access to environmental information and public participation in environmental decision making.(Appended below)
In a joint statement, chairpersons Roudn and Mayer commented that "the meeting was a good opportunity to consider the practical implementation of the draft convention and the important role to be played by INFOTERRA national focal points in this process".
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe is facilitating the drafting process and hopes to have the Convention finalized for signature at the 4th Environment for Europe ministerial conference at Aarhus in June 98.
For more information, please contact:
INFOTERRA, The Global Environmental Information Exchange Network, Division of Environmental Information and Assessment, United Nations Environment Programme,
P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, KENYA,
Tel: 254 2) 624299 or 623275
Fax: (254 2) 624269,
UNEP Information Note 1998/1
Vienna Statement by UNEP/INFOTERRA National Focal Points on the draft convention on access to environmental information and public participation in environmental decision making
6 March 1998
The UNEP/INFOTERRA National Focal Points of the Central European Region,
Meeting in Vienna from 2 to 6 March 1998,
Welcoming the Environment for Europe ministerial initiative to adopt a convention on access to environmental information and public participation in environmental decision making,
Taking note of the provisions outlined in the 'information pillar' of the draft convention,
Recognizing the relevance of the 'information pillar' to the work of INFOTERRA - the Global Environmental Information Exchange Network of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),
Affirming that the INFOTERRA national focal point is the appropriate institution at the national level to act as the contact point as specified in Article 5, paragraph 2(b) (iii), of the draft convention,
Expressing their intent to handle information requests in a user-friendly and responsible way, in accordance with Article 4 of the draft convention,
Welcoming the extensive use of telecommunications networks for providing information on the environment as stipulated in Article 5, paragraph 3, of the draft convention,
Propose that practical guidelines be elaborated for:
Establishing publicly accessible lists and registers of files (Article 5, paragraph 2(b) (i));
Presenting state-of-the-environment reports, legislation and other documents on the Internet/World Wide Web;
Structuring data and information catalogues; and
Enhancing organizational and institutional arrangements;
Further propose that:
National information should be made available in the national language(s);
Information of international interest should, where feasible, also be available in English or other languages, as appropriate;
International agreements and other international documents should, where feasible, also be available in the national language(s);
Recommend that participation in eco-labelling and eco-audit schemes be publicized to promote these initiatives (Article 5, paragraph 6);
Express their conviction that publicizing the convention and the practical arrangements necessary at the national level is a prerequisite for its implementation;
Affirm that the implementation of the 'information pillar' of the convention will require a fully developed national environmental information service, as specified by the United Nations Environment Programme for its INFOTERRA National Focal Points, with adequate government funding and support.