"Russian Regional Environmental Centre can play an important role in raising attention towards environmental issues and strengthening environmental civil society"

Margot Wallstrцm, EU Commissioner on environment in 1999-2004

Environment for Europe

The «Environment for Europe» process is a unique partner-ship of the UN member states located within the region of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, international organisations, regional and sub-regional environmental centres and non-governmental organisations. The functions of the partnership’s secretariat are fulfilled by the UN ECE.

This process was initiated in 1991 in Dobrzish (Czech Republic), where the 1st Ministerial Conference of the Environment Ministers of a number of European countries was held and the basic principles and guidelines for the European cooperation elaborated and adopted, as well as discussions of issues carried out that are of great importanсe for further improvement of the environmental situation in the Pan-European space.

Virtually all countries of Europe, North America, the Caucasus and Central Asia, international organisations of UN family, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Council of Europe, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, as well as regional environmental centres and public organisations take active part in the Environment for Europe process.

Within the framework of this component the RREC performs active work on the development of activities of EECCA RECs. It ensures input and contribution of the network to the "Environment for Europe" process and preparation for the next Ministerial Conference that will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan in 2011.

In order to implement the decisions of ministers on transferring a part of the functions of the Secretariat of the EAP Task Force to EECCA RECs, made at Belgrade, RREC jointly with other EECCA RECs has developed a number of projects to be implemented within the framework of the Joint OECD/EECCA RECs Work Programme.

At the last EAP Task Force meeting in Astana the RRCE presented the final version of the Work Programme of the Network and the results of EECCA RECs’ activity.

At present, the donors explore possibilities for supporting implementation of the Joint Work Programme by EECCA REC network.

Since 1991, when the «Environment for Europe» process had been initiated, profound changes took place on the European continent. The majority of countries of the Central and Eastern Europe acceded to the EU. New opportunities for closer cooperation between the EU and the countries of the Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) emerged. They include European neighbourhood policy, stabilization and cooperation processes.

At the conference in Kiev (2003), the Ministers declared that at their next meeting in 2007 in Belgrade (Republic of Serbia) they would consider possibility for relocating secretariat functions for the Environmental Action Programme for the EECCA countries to that region. This appears to be reasonable in order to have a mechanism for providing assistance directly «on the ground» and to minimize as much as possible the expenses for the functions of the secretariat.

In case such a decision is made, the most effective way to implement it will be to assign those functions to the regional environmental centres (RECs) in EECCA.

Being an active participant in the «Environment for Europe» process and one of its products, the EECCA RECs from the very beginning had focused their efforts on improvement of the environmental situation in the region, development of civil society and ensuring of interaction of various sectors of the society in order to attain the defined objectives.