17. August 2021

Nomination of Prof. Dr. Thomas Schomerus to serve the Aarhus Committee of the United Nations by a strong alliance of European environmental NGOs


We congratulate a long-standing UfU partner and co-author to his nomination to the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee (ACCC). On 22. July 2021 the Austrian OEKOBUERO – Alliance of the Environmental Movement, the German Independent Institute for Environmental Issues (UfU) e.V., the European Network Justice & Environment, the Ukrainian Resource and Analysis Center “Society and Environment” and the European Environmental Bureau, acting on the behalf of the European ECO Forum, have nominated Mr. Schomerus. The NGO candidate might be elected at the next Meeting of the of the Parties of the Aarhus Convention in October 2021.

Non-governmental organisations can – next to Parties and Signatories to the Aarhus Convention nominate persons with recognised (legal) competence in Aarhus topics and of high moral character to serve the ACCC. For the first time since 2002 where the Compliance Committee was established, a German Committee member could be elected by its 47 Parties at the Seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention (MoP 7). The UfU would strongly welcome the first German ACCC membership by Mr. Thomas Schomerus due to his widely appreciated acknowledged legal competence in Aarhus topics and his high moral character.

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. (GTU Tiflis) Thomas Schomerus has been a civil servant (Regierungsrat, Oberregierungsrat) for eight years of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. He conducted permitting procedures, including public participation procedures with oral hearings. He has valuable practical experience in the application and enforcement of environmental law. During this time, he also represented the City of Hamburg in the Federal Council (Bundesrat). The German Bundesrat is a legislative body that represents the sixteen federated states (Bundesländer) of Germany. Through the Bundesrat, the Bundesländer participate in the legislation and administration of the Federal Republic and in matters of the European Union.

In addition, he has served as a much-respected administrative law judge at the Higher Administration Court (Oberverwaltungsgericht) of Lower Saxony in Lüneburg (7th Senate). In this role, he was entrusted with complex approval procedures and gained a broad overview of German and European jurisprudence in the infrastructure sector.

Moreover, Mr. Schomerus is an award-winning University Professor of Public Law, in particular Environmental and Energy Law, of the Leuphana University Lüneburg in northern Germany. He has not only published over 300 books, articles and commentaries (including on the Environmental Information Act) and worked on numerous research projects, the also shared his practical and scientific expertise at Task Force and Working Group meetings of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention.

Most recently, UfU had the honour to prepare a first comprehensive study together with Mr. Schomerus evaluating the Federal Environmental Information Act for the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt, UBA). UfU is an independent and application-oriented research institute in eastern Germany with several Aarhus-related research projects. UfU highly appreciates Mr. Schomerus’ strong practical approach in applying environmental law. Mr. Schomerus is not only distinguished by his fruitful collaboration with the UfU, but also by his voluntary commitment to the German Society for Environmental Law (Gesellschaft für Umweltrecht, GfU) and Friends of the Earth Germany (Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland, BUND).

Mr. Schomerus’ work area is not limited to Germany. He has carried out numerous international projects in a wide range of countries within the UNECE region, inter alia Russia, the United Kingdom, United States of America, as well as European Union countries. He has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Tbilisi (Georgia). He is part of an international network with work activities in China, Japan, Mongolia, South Korea, and Taiwan.

To conclude, Mr. Schomerus is an outstanding legal expert highly respected by civil society actors, practitioners and governmental agencies of Germany and beyond. His work and contributions has been most appreciated by UfU, in his practical work for the City of Hamburg, the Higher Administration Court of Lower Saxony, the Federal Council (Bundesrat) as well his scholar work at international meetings to the Aarhus Convention and at the Leuphana University Lüneburg. Mr. Schomerus impresses greatly with his diligent work ethic and dedication. He comports himself with integrity at all times. Therefore, UfU is deeply convinced that Mr. Schomerus will contribute with his excellent legal, practical and scientific expertise to the invaluable work of the Compliance Committee.

The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee (ACCC), which reviews the compliance with the Aarhus Convention by state parties, is in many cases the last chance of environmental associations and environmentally-concerned individuals to review compliance with environmental law beyond their national jurisdiction. They can turn to the ACCC with an individual communication, which can be seen as modelled by various individual human rights complaints.

The Aarhus Convention is a multilateral environmental agreement which promotes environmental democracy within the UNECE region. The Aarhus Convention grants the public and environmental NGOs rights regarding access to environmental information, public participation and access to justice, in governmental decision-making processes on environmental matters.

Register here if you want to join the digital Fifth Aarhus Workshop on Human Rights, European and National Climate Laws and the Importance of the Aarhus Convention on 7. September 2020 before the MoP 7.

To find out more about projects promoting environmental democracy by the Independent Institute for Environmental Issues click here.