These 15th Workshops dedicated to the implementation of the European Landscape Convention were hosted by Turkey Urgup, on 1 and 2 October 2014 on the theme "Landscapes and sustainable economy."
Gerhard ERMISCHER, president of CIVILSCAPE, Head of the Landscape working group of the Committee on Democracy, Social Cohesion and Global Challenges and Patrice Collignon, director of the NGO Rural Affairs, Environmentand Development (RED), brought the testimony of the Committee and the Conference of INGOs on the subject
According to Gerhrard ERMISCHER, the landscape is the source of our identity and the mirror of society. Facing economic stress, the question is who has the authority and legitimacy to bring change, who has the right to decide the future of our landscapes? This is a highly political act but also very emotional.
For him, the European Landscape Convention points us to a path of co-operation between all the actors in the field, mainly the public administration and policy on one side and the civil society and NGOs on the other: because we need to work hand in hand in these fundamental matters for our future, not in total harmony and single mindedness, but in a well organized and moderated dialogue and permanent debate, an exchange of ideas and a competition for the best models for our future landscapes – and our future societies.
In his summary report, Patrice COLLIGNON said that in times of crisis, highlighting the links between landscape management and the business sector is essential to maintain the landscape in the major issues promoted by the States and the regions. Landscape is a significant element of the wealth of territories, a decisive incentive of attractivity for rural areas
He felt that the conference had shown by its many contributions that the landscape in its multifunctionality, could contribute to short-term economic territories, keeping in mind the importance of sustainable management, even to provide a quality of life and environmental quality for future generations.
Approaches to participatory governance around local development projects in his eyes showed their relevance for smart landscape management, he pleaded for the establishment of permanent consultation structures.
It is the partnership between the Romanian government and civil society that marked the 14th Forum of Romanian NGOs. The event, organized for 20 years by the NGO CENTRAS has this year received strong support from the Government. The meeting was held in Bucharest on 16 and 17 October 2014, the main Romanian NGOs and several government members and representatives from many departments interacted together.
Aurelia CRISTEA, Minister for Social Dialogue, co-organizer of the event, stressed in her speech that civil society has had and still has an important role in the modernization of the Romanian society. "Romania has become a better place, thanks to NGOs for many years in the field of participatory democracy and human rights," said the minister.
Ms. CRISTEA estimated that NGO criticism against the government over the past 20 years has reflected a desire to improve the political and social life of the country:
"Civil society is the place where ideas and bold projects are born, often at the vanguard of democracy."
Trust and legitimacy
On behalf of the Conference of INGOs, Anne-Marie CHAVANON, Chair of the Committee and special guest of the event, congratulated the partners for such a model initiative and hoped that it can take a permanent form by establishing a permanent structure. Refering to the Code of good pratice for civil participation in decision making adopted by the Conference of INGOs, she recalled that participation is based on trust and ethical perceptions of public action
Building on the code of participation in decision making, she stressed the need to
From left to right : Viorel MICESCU, executive director of CENTRAS, Ioana CAZACU, Deputy Minister for Equality, Eugen TEODOROVICI, Minister of Structural Funds, Aurelia CRISTEA, Minister in charge of Social Dialogue, Radu Puchiu, Secretary of State by the Prime Minister, in charge of Turism, and MSE, Anne-Marie CHAVANON, president of the committee on Democracy, Social cohesion and Global Challenges, Daniel MINDRUT, counsellor to the Minister in charge of Social Dialogue
A contribution to participatory democracy
The event seized the European Local Democracy Week opportunity to enhance participation between organized civil society and public authorities in various fields
Seven silmutaneous workshops had the following objectives:
1. The identification of deficiencies concerning transparency, public consultation and cooperation in the central public authorities/NGO relationship in connection with the results of consultations initiated by the Ministry of Social Dialogue
2. Searching solutions to identified difficulties.
3. The presentation of public policies in which the authorities and NGOs can intervene.
4. Propositions from NGOs to be introduced in the public authorities agenda and priorities
The workshop on Participatory democracy and Human Rights, moderated by Mircea KIVU, sociologist, stressed the need to enforce existing laws, including the desire for greater use of the expertise of NGOs helpful to public administrations. Among the wishes expressed, that of an appropriate selection of the most representative NGOs in the field and a publication on internet of the list of NGOs consulted by the Government.
Social dialogue Ministry website
Anne-Marie CHAVANON (Chair), Karl DONERT and Thierry MATHIEU (Vice-Chairs) were elected last June 26th for a 3 year mandate.
Advancing further and quicker together!
For Anne-Marie CHAVANON, delegate from the International Federation for Housing and Planning (IFHP), reelected as Chair of the Committee on Democracy, Social Cohesion and Global Challenges, last June 26th by the Conference of International NGOs of the Council of Europe, the results of the recent national and European elections in several member states should give us pause for thought: the confidence of Europe’s peoples in their democracies and their futures must be restored! This is all the truer since, at the same time, men, women and children are risking their lives to come and join Europe.
Clearly, she believes that tolerance, good governance and peace have to be promoted on the shores of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, as well as in all our countries which have been so badly shaken by the economic crisis. "We must have the courage to take up the new challenges of public health, rising poverty and inadequate housing. We must unite the public and governments in countering the effects of climate change and natural and technological hazards. But we must also convince our fellow citizens of the potential of their regions and their cultures, which should be open to the world", she said..
She strongly believes that in each of these fields, the Council of Europe can interact effectively if it harnesses the efforts of all the members of its quadrilogue, in line with their respective areas of responsibility.
Having experienced that over the past three years, the committee has been able to measure its power of influence, both internally, through the Conference of INGOs, and nationally and internationally, she relies on the extraordinary strength of the INGOs, their high level of expertise, the exemplary nature of their work on the ground and their influence in Europe and throughout the world.
"We must now have the courage to stimulate the action of the Council of Europe, in conjunction with the Human Rights Committee and the Education and Culture Committee. That is our task and I want most strongly to drive it forward with you. I urge you all to advance together quicker and further! " she said
Karl DONERT, President of EUROGEO, is strongly committed to the principles of democracy, social cohesion and global challenges. He believes in sustainable actions and investments that unlock new growth potential, such as the shift towards a low-carbon economy. He wishes to encourage innovation and research, as a significant opportunity to change the future of our world.
"Our environment is changing in many ways and at unprecedented rates: climate change, biodiversity loss and loss of ecosystems, increase in the frequency and severity of extreme events, desertification and soil degradation, overfishing and deforestation are just some of the many environmental challenges we are faced with". He believes the role of INGOs is critical in helping develop relevant policies to help tackle these areas.
"Europe is today in a process of adapting its structures and models in order to find and to give answers to the paradigm shift in all societal domains (multiple crises, ageing society, migration flows, globalisation, knowledge-based society and economy, digital agenda etc.). We must be concerned with developing an accountable, dynamic society that recognises its place in the world and focuses on the active responsibility we must all take in living together peacefully, in harmony and respect for one another and the environment".
Thierry MATHIEU, Secretary General of the International Association for Research in Hospital Hygiene (IARHH) is a Public health doctor and has been involved for many years in a wide range of humanitarian, medical, sporting and other associations.
He considers, the range of global challenges will continue to expand in the coming years with new climate, health, social and other issues. He believes NGOs will have to be vigilant and responsive in order to deal with them. The contribution of each INGO in its area of expertise is a necessity.
In his view, in the current difficult social and economic environment, the values of democracy have been undermined. Social cohesion is under threat. Civil society must be a key driving force to promote a hope that must be constantly renewed: for a fairer and more human society that is open to other people. This will always be his goal and road map.
This is the direction given by Israel Mensah, Vice-Chairman of the Committee, and Emanuela CAVALERI who drive the working group on Social cohesion and intercultural dialogue
Emanuela CAVALERI recalled the evidence of pluralism in a world that has more than 600 different languages, over 500 cultural groups and countless religions practiced in almost 200 sovereign states. By definition, therefore, diversity is an essential characteristic of human societies.
Europe continues elsewhere in the fabric by the sediments of intra-continental migrations, the redrawing of borders, colonialism and multinational empires. In recent decades, cultural diversification has accelerated:
On the one hand Europe has attracted migrants and asylum seekers from all over the world in search of a better life on the other hand, globalization has compressed space and time on an unprecedented scale. The revolutions in the telecom and media, particularly following the emergence of new services such as the Internet, have made national cultural systems increasingly permeable.
If we want our efforts fit productively in this context so special, our NGOs most involved in the promotion of intercultural dialogue should reflect more deeply on certain elements of it and take them into consideration.
Jean-Pierre ESTIVAL, Head of the working group on political and social developments in the countries of the Middle East and Southern Mediterranean presented an analysis based on historical, geopolitical and religious conflicts springs in the Middle East.
Anje WIERSINGA raised once again the need to support women in those countries and push for them to be involved in the peace process. She echoed the side event she organized in collaboration with the Committee on Human Rights on the use of gender as a weapon in conflicts..
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European Alliances to promote interculturality
Helen PICHON (CEPS), Head of the ad hoc working group, addressed the question of the meaning of the European complex identity in the space of the Council of Europe, where it is supported by the promotion of human rights, including the right to culture, interculturalism and multiculturalism. The working group proposes the creation of European Alliances, European cultural centers where the cultures and languages of the countries of Europe would be taught and shared.
Relations with the EU: Claude Laurent GENTY (CITI), Honorary President of the Conference of INGOs and Head of the ad hoc working wished comparable exchanges to those established by other pillars of the Council of Europe with their counterparts in the European Union. The working group is considering partnership with the European Economic and Social Committee and NGO platforms to the European Commission.
As we approach the 21st Conference of Parties to the Climate Convention (COP 21) to be hosted by France in 2015, the international NGO members of the committe on Democracy, Social Cohesion and Global Challenges adopted on 25 June 2014, a position unanimously defended in plenary by all NGOs.
Both speakers provided expertise of the highest level:
Edith WENGER, Head of the Working group "Climate Change and Human Rights" gathering 24 international NGOs, noted that this position paper is the result of a three year work and the continuation of the Committee concern for sustainability issues. She cited related documents already adopted:
Fundamental rights: the effects of climate change affect
the right to life,
the right to dignity and a decent life,
the right to safety, health, food and water,
the right to protection of property
the right to a nationality and freedom of movement,
Edith Wenger said that the document is intended as an information base, a tool to intervene in the many preparatory meetings to the new Treaty of Paris, engaging NGOs support the recommendations.
For Gerhard ERMISCHER, President of CIVILSCAPE, the example of the revival of the Nagorno-Belice Corleonese by the recovery of confiscated land from mafia organizations, which received a special mention from the European Landscape Award 2013 is a perfect illustration of 'landscape approach promoted by the European landscape Convention, which, as a combination of human rights, democracy, social cohesion and sustainable territorial development".
Message from Monica USAI (Libera)
During the 16th session of the Conference of the Council of Europe Ministers responsible for Spatial Planning (CEMAT) held in Nafplio (Greece), June 17, 2014 chaired by Yannis Maniatis, Minister Environment, Energy and Climate of Greece, the ministers adopted a text of primary importance to participatory democracy.
Promote territorial democracy on the territory
(Declaration of Nafplion)
CEMAT aims at promoting the territorial dimension of human rights and democracy for the European continent. sustainable and balanced development
Since its inception in 1970, CEMAT has played an invaluable role in promoting effective policies for territorial development in Europe with a focus on social cohesion. It had a significant impact on the improvement of laws, policies, procedures, practices and tools for territorial development in many countries. It advocates the principles of subsidiarity and reciprocity to ensure the active participation of European Municipalities and Regions in the definition of territorial development policies, helping to preserve the unity in diversity, historical and geographical legacies of Europe.
Among the CEMAT achievements, we must mention the common principles of territorial development (see the most important declarations and conventions related to planning).