Council of Europe Reykjavik Declaration - statement from IFLA Europe

Council of Europe Reykjavik Declaration - statement from IFLA Europe

Reykjavik Declaration – Exchange of Views COUNCIL OF EUROPE 6th June 2023

Response from the IFLA EU Council of Europe Working Group

“The European Region of the International Federation of Landscape Architects - IFLA EUROPE - welcomes the Summit’s declaration to reaffirm and renew the core values of the Council of Europe, its democratic foundations and its commitment to human rights and the rule of law. In uniting to meet current and future challenges we support increased efforts to ‘protect the environment, as well as to counter the impact of the triple planetary crisis of pollution, climate change and loss of biodiversity’. In strengthening the work on human rights aspects in relation to the environment, Appendix V - The Council of Europe (CoE) and the environment is particularly relevant and especially important.

Recognising a right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is key to improving the quality of life for Europeans as well as the planet. Instruments like the Bern Convention (Wildlife and Natural Habitats) and the Council of Europe Landscape Convention are tools that should help to ensure progress at international, national, regional, and local level. However, we are particularly concerned that work on the Landscape Convention is currently suspended. The workshops and conferences, which would normally have taken place have been put on hold. This is regrettable and the post of Executive Secretary of the CoE Landscape Convention vacated nearly a year ago has still not been filled.

Prior to the Reykjavik Summit, the Secretary General of the Council, Marija Pejčinović Burić addressed the Conference of the International Non-governmental Organisations (CINGO). Concern was expressed regarding the visibility of the CoE. We should remember that over 70% of Europeans live in towns and cities. Reacting to the triple impacts noted above is crucial to their quality of life. We strongly encourage work in this sector which would bring the institution into closer focus. We have contributed to a number of Conferences, assisted in workshops, produced expert papers and contributed to publications such as “Landscape Mosaics”. Nevertheless, it is disappointing to see that recommendations that have been made have largely not been acted open, the Secretary General mentioned backsliding, and this is a point in question. In addition, while access to environmental information is now more uniformly common as an acknowledged human right, access to essential professional expertise is not. The profession of Landscape Architects still suffers discrimination in many European countries.

As we have previously stated to both the CDCPP and CINGO – we maintain our willingness to promote the aims of the Landscape Convention and work closely with the CoE. Disseminating information relies heavily on member states really understanding the significance of landscape and the benefits that landscape architects can bring to help deal with major problems such as combatting climate change in cities, creating resilience through nature-based solutions, enhancing biodiversity, and improving the health and well-being of its citizens. IFLA Europe is willing to discuss with any member state, with the involvement of their national professional body, how we can work together to further the aims of the Convention improving the quality of life through investment in landscape in their country. Investment in landscape, compared to building and engineering, is hugely economic and remarkably cost effective in improving the quality of life for everyone, whilst bringing resilience to the natural world.”

Michael OLDHAM, Hon Member and Chair of the IFLA Europe Council of Europe Working Group
Head of Delegation to the Council of Europe
6th June 2023

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