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Themis Workshop: The Network Beyond

The Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) held a Themis Network side event on the occasion of the meeting of the REC General Assembly on December 1, 2016. The event provided an opportunity to share information about the mission, activities and accomplishments of the Themis Network, with a focus on regional needs and donor support in light of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The workshop encouraged the exchange of views among participants on how Themis can serve as a tool to build cooperation, strengthen institutions and foster regional engagement for effective environmental compliance and enforcement. As a bottom-up, beneficiary-driven mechanism, it adapts to the local context, contributing to the rule of law in the environmental sector and, as a result, to legal and institutional reform by strengthening dialogue between stakeholders.

The main outcomes of the side event were the dissemination of information about the Themis Network to stakeholders; a discussion on the future outlook in light of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SEE 2020 Strategy, including the sustainability of the network and its activities, strategic objectives and concrete next steps; and the adoption of an outcomes document by the participants.

The Outcomes Document

On the occasion of the Themis workshop “The Network Beyond”, held on December 1, 2016, representatives of the Themis Network beneficiary countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo[1], Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia) and representatives of partner organisations met in Szentendre to:

  1. outline the main outcomes of Themis activities carried out under the Multi-annual Work Programme 2014-2017 and their impact;
  2. discuss the sustainability of activities and next steps, also with a view to contributing to policy instruments being implemented in the region (e.g. the SEE 2020 Strategy and the SDGs); and
  3. agree on further strengthening cooperation in the framework of the Themis platform, on Themis activities beyond 2017, and on fostering dialogue.

Based on the discussions that took place during the meeting, participants reached the following conclusions:

  1. Natural resources: The protection of the environment should not be achieved at the expense of economic performance, but can bring itself bring benefits.
  2. Regional consciousness is to be strengthened with regional solutions.
  3. Achieved results include better implementation and enforcement of environmental legislation; improved capacities and inter-institutional and inter-governmental cooperation in SEE, mainly in the field of the environment; and greater awareness in relaiton to the combating of environmental crimes.
  4. Sustainability of the network and its activities: It is important to strengthen local ownership and bottom-up initiatives (such as standard operating procedures, or SOPs); institutional memory and organisational management (e.g. through the Action Toolkit); channels of cooperation with European and International partners; and country engagement and support.
  5. Strategic objectives: These include facilitating the development and implementation of policy instruments in the region; strengthening the compliance chain (at all levels, including local), putting in place a rigorous enforcement regime; developing better and more efficient institutions dealing with environmental governance and law enforcement; and promoting a primary regional steering and assistance instrument for the EU accession process (through synergies with the RCC and other partners).
  6. Next steps: Future tasks include building on existing outputs/mechanisms (SOPs); further developing (regional) tools and mechanisms; providing targeted technical assistance; providing technical capacity development (including compliance assistance); providing focused expertise development; diversifying networking (including in-country networks); promoting knowledge transfer; pursuing synergies with policy instruments (e.g. the SEE 2020 Strategy) and partners (e.g. GIZ); contributing to the rule of law by covering legal gaps between laws and by-laws; and fundraising.

The participants confirm their engagement in and strong support for the Themis Network and its activities.

The participants wish to express their gratitude to the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) for its operational and financial support, as well as its commitment to the 2012-2017 activities of the Themis Network; and to the Regional Environmental Center.

The participants would like to invite donors to consider contributing through financial support to enable the future activities of the Themis Network. The results achieved during the implementation of the Multi-annual Work Programme are expected by the beneficiaries to be continued according to their needs.

Szentendre, December 1, 2016

[1] This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSC 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.