Our new office in the House of Democracy and Human Rights

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

1. of June 2021

UfU has moved. The address remains the same, but we are now in new, even larger offices in the House of Democracy and Human Rights. For UfU, this move is also an investment in the future in times of Corona and home office. We are growing steadily and we believe that the trend towards home office will continue after the pandemic. Nevertheless we would like to give our staff the opportunity to work in an office in the future as well.

The UfU is now located in the middle and back building on the fourth floor, thus also reuniting two previously separate parts of the Institute.

Some of us are still unpacking the boxes, but we are already looking forward to visitors to the Institute.


Fourth Aarhus Workshop

24 March 2021

On 24 March 2021, the Independent Institute for Environmental Issues e.V. – UfU – and the University of Coimbra organised the fourth digital Aarhus Workshop to discuss public participation and access to justice at European Union level. While UfU hosted and moderated the fourth Aarhus Workshop, Ms. Dr. Alexandra Aragão, who is a reknown Portuguese Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Coimbra, teaching environmental law, European law, risk governance and food security law, enriched the event with her well-founded and substantial presentations and contributions.

More than 20 Aarhus-interested participants from environmental associations, foundations, universities, governmental organisations as well as legal professionals took part in the fourth digital Aarhus Workshop. Most participants came from Germany, Portugal and Slovenia, those three countries, who are together holding the EU Trio Council Presidency in 2020 and 2021. On 1 January 2021, Portugal took over the EU Council Presidency from Germany and it will soon be handed over to Slovenia.

At the beginning of the Workshop, Dr. Catarina Grilo, Director of Conservation & Policy at ANP in association with WWF Portugal, delivered some insights on the Portuguese Presidency of the Council. After Catarina’s sharp observations on Portugal’s achievements in strengthening European environmental law and environmental democracy, Sebastian Bechtel, LLM, environmental democracy lawyer at ClientEarth Brussels, provided a captivating presentation on the new developments around the Amendment of the European Aarhus Regulation. The short presentation on access to justice included the advice of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee in ACCC/M/2017/3 of 12 February 2021 and the findings of the Committee in ACCC/C/2015/128 (European Union) of 17 March 2021. He talked about the current legislative procedure and how environmental NGOs and other stakeholder participate in it.

After a short break the main focus of the Workshop laid on two questions: “How can citizens & NGOs participate in European environmental decision-making?” and “How can electronic public participation in European environmental decision-making be strengthened?” First, Prof Dr. Alexandra Aragão gave an overview of the multifaceted public participation opportunities in Europe, e.g. the Eurobarometer, public consultations, legislative initiatives or citizen science. After the systematic presentation of central reactive and pro active participation options for European citizens and environmental NGOs by Ms. Aragão, a Panel discussion on online public consultations, who are conducted by the European Commission, followed. Part of the multi-stakeholder panel discussion were a legal scholar, two environmental NGO experts and one participation expert respectively:

  • Prof. Dr. Maria Alexandra de Sousa Aragão,
  • Rebecca Humphries, Senior Public Affairs Officer at WWF European Policy Office (EPO)
  • Dr. Raphael Weyland, Head of Brussels Office at Nature & Bio-diversity Conservation Union (NABU) in association with BirdLife Europe, as well as
  • Anna Renkamp, Senior Project Manager Bertelsmann Stiftung.

The main arguments of all panellists during the fruitful discussions are captured in the Presentation to our fourth Aarhus Workshop

After the panel discussion some time was left to discuss the pressing question where and how citizens and NGO representatives could complain if they could not participate effectively online.

Due to the limited time available to discuss the online public consultations conducted by the European Commission, UfU and the University of Coimbra agreed to prepare a discussion paper on strengthened E-participation in European environmental decision-making.

The next and final fifth Aarhus Workshop on 8 September 2021 will fall under the EU Council Presidency by Slovenia. It will be held shortly before the seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties of the Aarhus Convention (MOP 7) in October 2021. If you want to join the fifth Aarhus Workshop, please register here: https://www.ufu.de/en/5-aarhus-workshop/

All five Aarhus Workshops are part of the project “European Implementation of the Aarhus Convention in the Digital Age (EU-AarKo)” of the Independent Institute for Environmental Issues ­ UfU e.V. This project is financially supported by the German Environment Agency (UBA) and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety within the framework of the sponsorship of environmental associations.

For more information about this project and its background, click here.

For any questions, please contact Kathleen Pauleweit: kathleen.pauleweit@ufu.de

 


Aarhus Workshop on access to justice at EU level

27th November Berlin

Third Aarhus Workshop on „How could access to justice at European Union level be improved?”

Almost three dozen Aarhus-interested participants from environmental associations, the legal profession and specialised lawyers took part in the third Aarhus Workshop on 17 November 2020. Sebastian Bechtel, environmental democracy lawyer for ClientEarth Brussels, introduced the Workshop with two intriguing presentations on the challenging questions: “What is wrong with access to justice in the European Union?” and “Does the Amendment to the Aarhus Regulation help?”. Two panel discussions with Aarhus experts from Germany, Portugal and Slovenia ­ the EU countries which are currently sharing the Trio Council Presidency till the end of 2021 ­ further elaborated on access to justice hurdles and identified concrete areas for improvement. Dr Raphael Weyland, Head of Brussels Office at Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU); Catarina Grilo, PhD, Director of Conservation and Policy at ANP in association with WWF; and Senka Šifkovi Vrbica, legal expert at PIC Slovenia, shared their hands-on experience around accessing European and Member State courts. Dr Maria Alexandra de Sousa Aragão, Professor at University of Coimbra; Dr Vasilka Sancin, Associate Professor at University of Ljubljana and Director of Centre for International and Business Law; as well as Sebastian Bechtel, discussed with the participants how access to justice at European Union level could be further strengthened.

A joint position paper was developed during the third Aarhus Workshop. The “German Portuguese Slovenian Civil Society Declaration on Access to Justice for Citizens & NGOs at European Union Level” can be found here.

For any questions, please contact us: kathleen.pauleweit@ufu.de

The workshop is part of the project “European Implementation of the Aarhus Convention in the Digital Age (EU-AarKo)” of the Independent Institute for Environmental Issues (UfU e.V.). This project is funded by the German Environment Agency (UBA) and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety within the framework of the sponsorship of environmental associations.

For more information about this project and its background, click here.


Release Event “Civic space for participation in climate policies in Colombia, Georgia and Ukraine”

23rd November 2020

SAVE THE DATE 

Join us online on November 4th, 2020 for the Release Event of our study  “Civic space for participation in climate policies in Colombia, Georgia and Ukraine”

 

Civil society actors are key in raising the ambition of climate policies. Without civil society, there will be no socially just transition to a fossil-free world. National climate plans, including the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and long term climate strategies, benefit from diverse stakeholder engagement.

During the last months, UfU worked on a comprehensive study about opportunities of civil society (organizations) to participate in climate policies in Colombia, Georgia and Ukraine. In cooperation with BUND / Friends of the Earth Germany and Censat Agua Viva (COL), Ecoaction (UKR) and Greens Movement Georgia (GEO) the environment and conditions for climate-related participation were analyzed, such as the legal framework for participation, as well as concrete practices of participatory policy making, for example related to the recent revision of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

We invite you to discuss with us the criteria for good practices of involving civil society in climate policy.  The aim of the event is to inform about the results of the study and to bring together government and civil society actors for achieving better climate plans.

 

The event takes place on Wednesday, November 4 from 3 pm – 5.30 pm CET.

The detailed program will be announced in October. We will be using Zoom for the video conference, registration is required and will be possible from the end of October.

For any questions, please contact us: eva.laderick@bund.net

We look forward to seeing you online in November!
The event organization team

 

The event is part of the project Strengthen Civil Society for the implementation of national climate policy (ZIVIKLI) of BUND / Friends of the Earth Germany and the Independent Institute for Environmental Issues (UfU e.V.). This project is part of the International Climate Initiative. The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety promotes the initiative on the basis of a resolution of the German Federal Parliament.

 

 For more information about this project and its background click here.

 

 


E-Learning formats regarding environmental protection in Vietnam

23rd Septemeber 2020

Interest in and needs for E-Learning formats regarding environmental protection in Vietnam

In the project DigiViet, UfU analyzed the current need for E-Learning formats dealing with environmental protection and the management of contaminated sites in Vietnam. This was supplemented by insights into some “Best-Practice” examples for E-Learning opportunities from Vietnam as well as other countries. The knowledge, collected through expert interviews and an online survey for employees from environmental agencies at the provincial level (DONREs), was summarized in the study E-Learning Opportunities regarding Environmental Protection in Vietnam: Key considerations for an E-Learning Platform about the Management of Contaminated Sites.

A summary of this study is now available in English and Vietnamese.

The DigiViet-Study came to the conclusion that in Vietnam, there is a strong interest in and need for E-Learning opportunities in general, but also in the environmental sector. The Vietnamese government supports the development of E-Learning formats and in the past years passed a comprehensive and modern legislation.

All experts who participated in our interviews and the online survey showed interest in E-Learning formats related to the management of contaminated sites.

In Vietnam, E-Learning opportunities are mostly offered by universities and schools, while the majority of all respondents identified the need for an E-Learning format about contaminated site management for the training of public agency staff.

The knowledge collected for the DigiViet-study contributes to the development of the first online-training about contaminated site management for staff from DONREs in Vietnam. The training E-Learning Opportunities regarding Environmental Protection in Vietnam is part of the project CapaViet2. While the Vietnamese version of the training is intended for public authority staff in Vietnam, the English version will be accessible for a wider audience at the UfU website.

Fore more information about this project and to see our publications on this subject click here.


Environmental lawsuit at EU level - Third digital Aarhus Workshop

18th September 2020

Invitation to the third digital Aarhus Workshop
The Department of Environmental Law & Participation invites you to a series of events on challenges of implementing the Aarhus Convention at the European level.

 

Series of Events 2020/2021
Challenges of Implementing the Aarhus Convention at the European Level (EU-AarKo)
When: Spring 2020 to Autumn 2021
Where: Berlin, Lisbon and Ljubljana

As part of the project “European Implementation of the Aarhus Convention in the Digital Age (EU-AarKo)”, the Independent Institute for Environmental Issues (UfU) e.V. provides during the EU Council Presidency of the four Member States Croatia, Germany, Portugal and Slovenia an open space for the European civil society, experts and practitioners in the field of environmental law to exchange their views and adopt a clear position on the lack of effective access to European courts (communication ACCC/C/2008/32 to Compliance Committee of the Aarhus Convention).

A total of five events will take place in Germany, Portugal and Slovenia. On 11 May 2020 and 30 June 2020 interested participants from Germany and Belgium took part in the first two digital workshop discussions. The next English virtual workshop will take place in November 2020. In spring 2021, another workshop may take place in Lisbon, Portugal. Before a final event in Berlin rounds off the series of events at the end of the year 2021, UfU is planning a fifth workshop in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in autumn 2021.

Third Aarhus Workshop
When: 17th November 2020, 2 pm -5 pm (CET)
How: Zoom Meeting

We would like to invite you to our third digital Aarhus Workshop, which will be held as a Zoom meeting on 17th November 2020, from 2pm to 5 pm (CET). We would particularly like to discuss with you how effective access to justice on the European Union level could look like. Among other issues, we will exchange opinions on the draft amendment to the Aarhus Regulation, which is to be published by then. The objective of the workshop is to develop a joint position paper.

The event is free of charge. Please register by sending a short e-mail with the subject heading “Yes, third workshop talk” to (larissa.donges@ufu.de) if you would like to participate. All interested participants will receive the detailed programme and registration information via e-mail.

If you have any questions regarding the topics of the workshop, please contact our dear colleague Kathleen Pauleweit (kathleen.pauleweit@ufu.de).

You will find more information about the Aarhus Convention and the Aarhus Workshops here.