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29 June 2020 | EEA statement for the 24th meeting of the Working Group of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention

Strengthening cooperation and working together (both internationally and nationally). Over the past few years the cooperation and partnership working between the EEA and the Aarhus Convention/European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) protocol secretariats has increased. This has been particularly relevant in the context of the last ENI SEIS II project managed by the EEA in which the Aarhus secretariat was a solid partner, and the Eastern Partnership countries’ networks for the project and for the convention worked closely together and enhanced the countries’ responses. In this context the NFPs involved in the project worked closely with thematic and sectoral experts and with the NFP for the Aarhus Convention and representatives of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) community.

Sustainability of the results achieved. Now that the ENI SEIS II project is concluded the cooperation will continue between the EEA and UNECE, and important outcomes of this cooperation are to be sustained in the context of the Task Force on Access to Information and the work on the Recommendations on Electronic Information Tools to be submitted to the parties to the convention.

Open data maturity reports — a dynamic tool and a roadmap for further developing open data and e-government to support access to environmental information. One of the outputs of the ENI SEIS II project was the development of national open data maturity reports and a roadmap for further development for each of the six Eastern Partnership countries. The reports were produced through dialogue and partnership with institutions and experts from each country with the country’s statistical agency taking the lead. The reports are available on both the EEA/ENI SEIS II website and UNECE’s website and we encourage the countries to use them actively and keep them updated during the process of implementation. The reports are in line with EU open data maturity reports for the EU Member States and, by focusing on the environment, they are a novelty for this dynamic domain. Furthermore, the roadmaps and the executive summaries of the reports are translated into all Eastern Partnership national languages to increase the dissemination and use of this work.

Digitalisation, open data and the Green Deal. Both the EU and the UN recognise digitalisation as a major challenge and a top priority for the coming decade. Moreover, access to information and public information becomes a must in a dynamic and interconnected world. And environmental information should be as accessible as all the other relevant socio-economic information for both decision-makers and the public, especially when aiming for a more sustainable and greener future. The present maturity reports are a contribution to this dynamic process, and the EEA invites the countries to make better use of them at national, regional and local levels. Moreover, the report on good practices, produced in parallel during the ENI SEIS II project, is also available and provides good examples of open data and access to environmental information across topics and at various levels. In this respect effective implementation of open data and e-government for environmental information becomes a shared and participatory process where everybody can learn from each other and contribute to the process. Bringing the actions and conclusions of these reports into the Recommendations on Electronic Information Tools recognises the findings and increases the usefulness of this knowledge and experiences.

In future, the EEA will have this activity high on its agenda in the context of the new biodiversity strategy for 2030 and remains a reliable and committed partner to the countries and to its international partners in this challenging and very dynamic domain.