Public participation in the implementation of the Carpathian Convention

Already in the preamble to the Carpathian Convention the Parties recognized that


the Carpathians constitute the living environment for the local people”, and acknowledged “the contribution of the local people to sustainable social, cultural and economic development, and to preserving traditional knowledge in the Carpathians.


The public participation in the implementation of the provisions of the Carpathian Convention is indispensable primarily because of its overarching objectives (set out in Article 2 paragraph 1) including improving the quality of life, strengthening local economies and communities – which cannot be achieved without or against the will of the inhabitants of the Carpathians.

Public participation and stakeholder involvement is one of the seven general principles set out in Article 2 of the Convention, being guidelines not only for individual Parties to the Convention or its bodies, but also for all the bodies, institutions or entities implementing its provisions. These principles should be applied to achieve the objectives set out in the further part of the Convention (i.e. in Articles 4 to 13), so that the public participation and stakeholder involvement should be ensured in the implementation of the Convention in all areas specified therein.

The above quoted general rule concerning public participation is further enhanced by the provision of Article 13, paragraph 2, which obliges the Parties to the Convention to pursue policies guaranteeing public participation in decision-making relating to the protection and sustainable development of the Carpathians, and the implementation of the Convention.

Due to the above, each of the thematic protocols to the Carpathian Convention requires ensuring public participation in the implementation of its provisions. Each of the protocols explicitly mentions regional and local authorities, as the main actors, whose involvement in the implementation of thematic protocols is intended to ensure broader public participation, and existing institutional framework within which their involvement is to be realized.

The provisions of the thematic protocols to the Carpathian Convention in no way limit or narrow the circle of persons entitled to participate in the decision-making processes in the areas covered by particular protocols, or in the implementation of activities resulting from such decisions. They provide the same mandate for the active participation of other interested entities or communities that may have factual, public or legal interest, avoiding the breach of the rights guaranteed by national law (or, in the case of Parties to the Convention being EU Member States - Community law) to entities other than regional or local authorities.

Public participation of social partners, including in particular the substantively relevant non-governmental organizations, institutions and scientific communities, can play an important role in the implementation of certain provisions of the Carpathian Convention and its protocols.

A possible and recommended form of involving the widest possible range of people are public consultations carried out at the regional or local level. In Poland the law on self-governments provides the legal basis for such consultations conducted in a municipality or an administrative province not only on issues defined in the law, but also on other issues considered important for the municipality or province.

In 2008 at its second meeting the Conference of the Parties (COP2) to the Carpathian Convention reiterated its earlier recommendation concerning the establishment and development of national mechanisms that contribute to the implementation of the Carpathian Convention, pointing to the need for public consultation in the region, as an important form of public participation in the implementation of the Convention (Decision COP2/10).

Further development (preparation of documents accompanying the implementation of the Framework Convention, in particular the national action plans) and implementation of the Carpathian Convention require taking into account the views, aspirations and needs of the inhabitants of the Carpathians. Public participation in the development and implementation of the Convention is thus indispensable, including consultations with the local authorities (such as provided under the project “Carpathians Unite - mechanism for consultation and cooperation for the implementation of the Carpathian Convention”. Also, due to the fact that the process of elaboration of national documents (e.g. national action plans) associated with the Convention is only just beginning, so it is the most appropriate time for consultations with the inhabitants of the Carpathian Mountains.