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CM/Cong(2008)Rec215-231finalE  / 04 July 2008 

Ministers’ Deputies
CM Documents

CM/Cong(2008)Rec215-231 prov 22 May 20081
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1031 Meeting, 2 July 2008
9 Sustainable development


9.1 “Climate change: approaches at local and regional level” –

Recommendation 215 (2007)
and
“Climate change: building adaptive capacity of local and regional authorities” – Recommendation 231 (2008)
of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

Joint draft reply

Item to be prepared by the GR-C at its meeting on 19 June 2008
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1. The Committee of Ministers has studied with attention Recommendations 215 (2007) and 231 (2008) of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe on Climate change: approaches at local and regional level” and “Climate change: building adaptive capacity of local and regional authorities”. It has brought these recommendations to the attention of governments of member states and communicated them to a number of steering committees and other interested bodies of the Council of Europe, for information and possible comments.
2

2. The Committee of Ministers values the dedication of the Congress to tackle this issue. Climate change nowadays poses a threat to human beings and the environment throughout the world and calls for an urgent, responsible and global response. The Committee of Ministers therefore supports the comprehensive and integrated approach to combating climate change advocated by the Congress.

3. It recalls, in this context, the commitment to promoting sustainable development as expressed at highest political level by the Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe at the Warsaw Summit, in May 2005. The Committee of Ministers welcomes the relevant instruments and initiatives already existing at national, European and international levels, including the Council of Europe’s own significant legal and strategic frameworks, namely the Bern Convention, the European Landscape Convention, the Pan European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy and the EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement.

4. The Committee of Ministers strongly encourages member and observer states which have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Kyoto Protocol, to implement its objectives and consider extending them, thereby involving local and regional authorities. The Committee of Ministers also invites member and observer states to draw inspiration from the suggestions of the Congress on tackling climate change, as submitted in paragraphs 12 of Recommendations 215 and 231.

5. With regard to the Congress’ suggestions formulated in paragraphs 11 of Recommendations 215 (2007) and 231 (2008), the Committee of Ministers notes from the comments formulated by the committees and bodies it consulted (see appendices 1 to 5), that the latter are well aware, in their respective fields of competence, of the issues at stake regarding the implications of climate change. In this connection, the Committee of Ministers particularly welcomes the work undertaken by the Group of Experts on Biodiversity and Climate Change set up by the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention and the valuable contribution the Congress made to it. It also commends the efforts of the European and Mediterranean Major Hazards Agreement (EUR-OPA)3 in the field of prevention and education issues related to natural and technological risks which have been recently extended to the specific effects of climate change on risks' exposure for populations.

Appendix 1 to the joint reply

Comments of the European Committee on Migration (CDMG) on Congress Recommendation 215 (2007)

1. Migration provoked by climate change has already been identified by the CDMG as an important future trend, and one that will have important implications for the orderly management of migration flows and the integration of migrants.4

2. Internal displacement of populations or to neighbouring countries in the Southern hemisphere, provoked by man-made changes to the local environment, is already an established phenomenon. Generally, these are the result of economic activity, such as de-forestation, deliberate flooding, open-cast mining and the building of hydro-electric dams.

3. Climate change threatens to generalise and extend such population movements into important flows of international migration. These movements will build on but also diversify established migratory routes. Whilst there is uncertainty as to the specific climatic changes that will take place, and therefore the areas that will be affected, there is every possibility that they will provoke considerable migratory movements within Europe, as well as from South to North.

4. In the context of migration policies, the opinion of the CDMG is that attention needs to devoted to two areas: (i) migration management and (ii) integration and community relations.

5. In the area of migration management co-operation between Council of Europe member states should be enhanced in order, firstly, to properly identify and anticipate the impact on population movements that may be provoked by climate change and, secondly, draw up policies and procedures that will facilitate the migration of people to new centres of safety and economic development. This co-operation should also be extended to major non European partner countries.

6. Facilitating migration provoked by climate change will also imply reviewing and modifying the laws and regulations in member states that govern the admission and stay of migrants.

7. In the area of integration, there is a need to review current integration and community relations policies in order to ensure that they can adequately meet the challenges that will be created by the arrival of large numbers of immigrants from countries other than the traditional source countries for member states.

8. In the opinion of the CDMG, the Committee of Ministers should support the proposal of the Congress to mainstream climate change policies into the work of its steering committees, including that of the CDMG along the lines indicated above.

Appendix 2 to the joint reply

Comments of the Council of Europe Development Bank on Congress Recommendation 215 (2007)

The Governing Board took note of paragraph 11 of Recommendation 215 (2007) of the Congress of the Council of Europe, recommending the Committee of Ministers to: “b. ask the Council of Europe Development Bank to act as an example by making sure their funds and investments are as “green” as possible and by ensuring that the system for allocating funds offers incentives to projects which include climate change issues and progressive moves towards a low-carbon and low-risk economy.”

In this connection it recalls that management of the environment – together with social integration and the development of human capital – is one of the CEB’s three sectorial lines of action. Over the past five years, the CEB’s contribution in this sector has involved the approval of new projects for an accumulated amount of over € 2 billion – including 748 million for 2007 alone – and one quarter of the total loans disbursed by the CEB.

Over and above its specific action in favour of protection of the environment, the CEB systematically takes into account the environmental aspects of all the projects it appraises. To this end, the CEB, in May 2006, signed the Declaration of European Principles for the Environment. This declaration associates the Commission and the principal multilateral financial institutions in Europe (EIB, EBRD, NEFCO, NIB) in a joint effort to implement the “fundamental right of present and future generations to live in a healthy environment”. In particular, the Declaration promotes high levels of environmental protection, improving the quality of the environment as well as integration of environmental dimensions in policies for other sectors.

Appendix 3 to the joint reply

Comments from the European Conference of Ministers Responsible for Spatial/Regional Planning (CEMAT) on Congress Recommendation 215 (2007)

The Committee of Senior Officials:

Aware of the need to offer a rapid, responsible and comprehensive response to the challenges of global warming to reduce the negative consequences for the human race (the spread of diseases and the migration of millions of people, including ecological refugees …), and the natural and cultural heritage;

– agrees with the Congress that the fight against climate change should be central to the actions of all decision-makers and that multi-level agreements should be drawn up;

– stresses the necessity to add preventive actions to the proposed measures made by the Congress, aiming to reduce potential damages of natural disasters caused by climate change (floods, forest fires, etc) as well as adapting economic strategies (tourism, agriculture) that have become necessary because of climate change;

– is of the opinion that more attention should be paid in the programmes of activity of the Council of Europe’s various steering committees and that there should be more consistency in the allocation of funding to projects that could have an impact on global warming;

– having regard to the relevant instruments and initiatives already existing at national, European and international level and the Council of Europe’s relevant legal and strategic frameworks, such as the Bern Convention, the European Landscape Convention, the EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement and the Pan European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy;

– endorses the suggestion made to the Committee of Ministers to encourage member states that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the relevant legal instruments, in particular the Kyoto Protocol, and implement the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol, thereby involving local and regional authorities and their networks and all the players concerned in the process;

– endorses all the other measures proposed by the Congress;

– proposes to stay in contact with the European Union and to report on the activities carried out under its work programme.

Appendix 4 to the joint reply

Comments of the Bureau of the Standing Committee of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) on Congress Recommendation 215 (2007)

The Bern Convention Bureau:

1. Welcomes the interest of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in tackling global warming as one of the most serious challenges to sustainable development;

2. Shares the concern of the Congress that the fight against climate change should be central to the actions of all decision-makers and that national governments should develop comprehensive national actions plans to combat and to adapt to climate change;

3. Notes with interest the recommendation from the Congress that member countries and observer states should develop adequate adaptation measures and include them into long-term development strategies, in particular in those areas most at risk;

4. Stresses that the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention has recognised climate change as a priority issue as it affects biological diversity in the territory covered by the Convention, including species, habitats and the Areas of Special Conservation Interest of the Emerald Network;

5. Notes that biodiversity can play an important role in adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change, as well as the need to adapt nature conservation work to the challenges of climate change in order to minimise its impact on the species and natural habitats protected under the Convention;

6. Encourages all member states and observer states to the Council of Europe to participate in the work of the new Group of Experts on Biodiversity and Climate Change, set up by the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention in November 2006;

7. Acknowledges the valuable contribution made by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe to the first meeting of the Group of Experts, held in Strasbourg on 14-15 June 2007, when Recommendation 215 (2007) was introduced and made available to participants;

8. Invites the Congress, as well as the Parliamentary Assembly, to continue the collaboration and
co-ordination with the Bern Convention on this important issue, and explore the possibility of joint future activities.

9. Notes the need to co-ordinate and co-operate with other relevant international biodiversity-related agreements and ongoing initiatives on this issue.

Appendix 5 to the joint reply

Comments of the Committee of Permanent Correspondents of the European and Mediterranean Major Hazards Agreement (EUR-OPA) on Congress Recommendation 231 (2008)

After careful examination of Congress Recommendation 231 (2008) at its meeting in Paris on 24-25 April 2008, the Committee of Permanent Correspondents of the European and Mediterranean Major Hazards Agreement (EUR-OPA);

1. Shares the concern of the Congress concerning the challenges that Europe will have to face due to the expected changes in temperature and rainfall while noting that climate change should be taken into consideration in the context of global change which also includes changes in urbanisation, agriculture and forestry or spatial planning that may increase the vulnerability of populations.

2. Notes that present available knowledge predicts that climate change will intensify climate threats and will most likely cause more frequent disasters related to meteorological phenomena and will certainly increase coastal and marine risks, as well as forest fires, drought or heat waves.

3. Notes that, as recognised in the Recommendation on "Local and Regional Authorities preventing disaster and facing emergencies adopted at the 1lth Ministerial Session of the European and Mediterranean Major Hazards Agreement (EUR-OPA), Marrakech, Morocco, 31 October 2006, local and regional authorities have important competencies in certain fields (i.e. spatial planning, licensing of industrial activities, housing, fire fighting, health, environment and water management) which are of fundamental importance in risk management and that the new threat of climate change recommends a reinforcement of their capacities to take preventive measures and deal effectively with emergencies.

4. Recalls that the European and Mediterranean Major Hazards Partial Agreement, jointly with its network of Specialised Centres, are already working within its 25 member states on prevention and education issues related to natural and technological risks (in such diverse fields as forest fires, landslides or radiological risks) and starts to consider the specific effects of climate change on risks' exposure for populations.

5. Agrees with the Congress that while the reduction of greenhouse gases is a necessary action to minimise the extent of global warming in the long term, adaptation to climate change to reduce risks in the medium term should receive appropriate attention by governments and local and regional authorities and the civil society. A reinforced effort in preparedness of societies will be essential to curb increasing risks, investing in risk-related sciences (geosciences, meteorology, oceanography, ecology, etc.), in developing early warning systems and more efficient response in cases of emergency.

6. Suggests that the Committee of Ministers and the governments of member states increase their efforts in protection of people from risk, by increasing resilience, promoting risk awareness through education and reducing disaster risk, integrating global change into their predictions and plans.

7. Suggests that the Council of Europe becomes more involved in the action against climate change and prevention of its effects and provides appropriate funding for the necessary programmes and activities related to early warning, risk education and post disaster assistance under the EUR-OPA Partial Agreement

Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue; it will be declassified in accordance with Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.
Note 2 European Committee on Migration (CDMG) (Recommendation 215 (2007) only) – see Appendix 1
Note Council of Europe Development Bank – see Appendix 2
Note European Conference of Ministers responsible for Spatial/Regional Planning (CEMAT) – see Appendix 3
Note Standing Committee of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) – see Appendix 4
Note Partial Agreement on the Co-operation Group for the prevention of, protection against, and organisation of relief in major natural and technological disasters (EUR-OPA) (Recommendation 231 (2008) only) – see Appendix 5.
Note European Committee for Social Cohesion (CDCS) (Recommendation 215 (2007) only) – no comments
Note European Health Committee (CDSP) (Recommendation 215 (2007) only) – no comments
Note European Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR) – no comments
Note 3 Partial Agreement on the Co-operation Group for the Prevention of, Protection Against, and Organisation of Relief in Major Natural and Technological Disasters (EUR-OPA).
Note 4 See the CDMG contribution to the White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue (Chapter two, the migration context).


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