Partnerships for a sustainable recovery: Initiatives to accelerate the achievement of the environment and climate goals of the 2030 Agenda

Thank you for the invitation. I work for the European Environmental Bureau and here today to represent the Regional Civil Society Engagement Mechanism I will share the common reflections of civil society in the Region.

First of all, we are concerned by the overall low level of engagement of CSOs and citizens in the drafting of current recovery plans and fundings schemes. When CSOs participation did happen, it was often on very short notice, at the initiative of CSOs and in a late stage of the negotiations that did not allow for a meaningful engagement and influence of the drafting of these plans.

It is a clear breach of the Aarhus convention, which a lot of countries from the Region are party to. This Convention explicitly states that such plans, that have an impact on the environment, should be subject to early and effective public participation within reasonable timeframes and allowing the public to be prepared and participate effectively during the decision-making process.

When CSOs are not involved meaningfully in the discussions, it is business-as-usual and the status quo is not challenged. Environmental CSOs have been key in driving the green transition, whether it is through pushing for progressive policies, implementing transformative initiatives, holding governments accountable or fighting conservative industry lobbies. The billions poured into recovery measures should only support sustainable projects and activities. For example, no money should go to subsidising fossil fuels-based activities, the incentives for green investments must be improved and nature restoration must be part of the recovery efforts.

That is why we are calling for the plans to comply with the Aarhus convention and to systematize CSOs participation through formalized mechanisms. We are also calling for the inclusion of a diversity of CSOs, beyond the environmental movement, to make sure that environmental measures are also socially far, respect human rights,

include the needs and perspective of all the people, especially the most marginalized and women as Her Excellency Ornella Cuci from Albania mentioned earlier.

CSOs have been working together across policy areas of sustainable development and pushed for solutions to the environmental and climate crises that are ambitious, impactful, fair, transparent and inclusive. And this diversity and inclusivity could inspire policymakers to ensure horizontal coherence. They should work systematically breaking silos between policy sectors and ensuring that progressive policies advanced by some are not thrown under the bus by others.

Partnerships must also happen at the international level. We have to ensure transboundary coherence of the recovery plans that prevent negative externalities. If we do not include international partners in the discussions, we will just keep repeating the same mistakes. The covid-19 crisis is global, the answer should also be global.

The last point is a broader one. We see a missed opportunity in the current recovery plans to radically rethink our economic model, get out of the growth addiction that led to a surge in inequalities, is destroying our planet, has slashed our health systems and brought us into the covid crisis. We need to move to an economy that centers well-being for all people and the planet. We are calling not to build back but to build forward a sustainable, healthy and just world.