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European Landscape Convention
10th Anniversary 2000-2010, Florence, 20 October 2010
Mr Sudarenkov, Russia
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have all gathered today in this beautiful city and its surrounding region of Tuscany to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the European Landscape Convention - which in itself pays a symbolic tribute to this important and rather unique European legal instrument.
Let me say that in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe - which brings together parliamentarians from national parliaments in all 47 member states and represents the second political pillar of the organisation – we have been very closely involved from the outset. We gave our full political support to initiate the Convention within the Council of Europe.
Together with politicians at the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities (next speaker), we recognised the importance that European citizens attach to landscape and the surroundings in which they live. We also recognised the value of having a pan-European instrument which would encompass the variety of European landscapes and create a specific and complete reference to the protection, management and planning of European landscapes.
We also shared the idea that the European Landscape Convention must be a flexible instrument, taking into account the diversity of European landscapes and the different conservation, planning and management traditions in our countries.
Under the European Landscape Convention, landscape became a subject no longer restricted to a circle of experts. It became a “political subject” bringing together the general public, national, regional and local authorities, private sector and all other parties with an interest in the definition and implementation of landscape policies. The Convention proved to be a driving force to build partnerships, to increase participation and to better exercise democracy.
As the Assembly rapporteur on “conservation and use of the landscape potential in Europe” back in 2006, I have pleaded on behalf of the Environment Committee for a wider ratification of the Convention to cover all our member states, including my own country Russia.
At parliamentary level, we have also recommended to develop common standards of landscape classification and a model framework legislation which could be used as guidance to transpose the provisions of the Convention in our countries. We were therefore pleased to see that the Committee of Ministers adopted in 2008 a set of Guidelines to help implement the Convention.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have gathered today not only to look at the past and to make stock of what has been achieved, however remarkable that may be, but also to look at challenges laying ahead of us.
Today, we face the urgent need to address the alarming issues of climate change and biodiversity loss which hold immediate effects on landscape and our own well-being.
In my own country, Russia, we had to tackle last summer the unprecedented forest and peat fires due to long months of unusually dry and very hot weather. Other European countries had to deal with floods. These examples show, how crucial it is to invest in landscape policies, mitigation and adaptation strategies and risk management - if we want to successfully tackle future threats and preserve not only landscape, habitats and species but also human lives, our economic and social well being.
As we all know, the European Landscape Convention concerns not only the protection of natural sites and wild landscape but equally urban and semi-urban landscape and in implementing the Convention we ought to involve practitioners such as architects, planners and landscape architects.
On behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly, I would like to conclude by saying how important it is to make the best use of the available instruments such as the European Landscape Convention; the Council of Europe Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention); the Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe, the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage, the Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for society, and the EUR-OPA Major Hazards Partial Agreement.
We politicians at the Parliamentary Assembly continuously appeal to our governments to sign, ratify and implement those and other relevant Council of Europe instruments; to invest in projects; to engage in cross border cooperation; to exchange experience and best practice.
Given a close link between landscape management and territorial planning, we also refer to the work of CEMAT – the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Spatial / Regional Planning – and in particular its Moscow Declaration on “Future challenges: sustainable territorial development of the European continent in a changing world” which the ministers adopted in July this year.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the current process of reform in the Council of Europe, we in the Parliamentary Assembly strongly advocate that the protection of the environment and territorial planning should be regarded as part of the Council of Europe’s “core business”. And we also urge the Committee of Ministers to initiate drafting an Additional Protocol to the Convention on Human Rights, so that the right to a healthy and viable environment becomes part and parcel of fundamental human rights granted by the Convention.