Orav: Chapter on the environment is one of the most challenging chapters

Aivo Orav; Photo: EU Delegation to Montenegro
Aivo Orav; Photo: EU Delegation to Montenegro

PODGORICA – The right to a healthy environment is one of the basic human rights and belongs to the so-called “third-generation rights” of the fundamental rights. Despite the fact that there is a good normative and institutional framework for environmental protection, there is still a lot of work ahead of Montenegro in this field, according to the conclusion of the panel discussion titled “Right to a healthy environment” organised by the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, the NF Civil Alliance and the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms, with the support of the EU Info Centre, marking International Human Rights Day.

The European Union’s Ambassador to Montenegro, Aivo Orav, reminded that protection of the environment is very important to the European Union.

“A high level of environmental protection and the improvement of the quality of the environment must be integrated into the policies of the EU and ensured in accordance with the principle of sustainable development. It is no coincidence that environmental protection is among the values listed under the heading ‘solidarity’. Namely, this shows we have a moral obligation not only towards our contemporaries, but also towards future generations, to protect our environment,” said Orav.

Ombudsman Šućko Baković emphasised that due to poor implementation of laws, an insufficiently developed environmental awareness and a lack of information for citizens on the right to a healthy environment, the situation in this area is unsatisfactory.

“Our findings indicate that violations of the right to a healthy environment are mainly a consequence of the inconsistent application of regulations in the areas of urban planning, construction, spatial planning, disposal of municipal waste, air pollution and excessive communal noise,” Baković emphasised.

“The right of citizens to live in a healthy environment and the protection and improvement of the entire body of rights in this field is still insufficiently visible and is not recognised as a primary right in our society. Citizens’ awareness of the importance of the environment and its impact on the individual and the entire society are still at a low level, education in this area is insufficient, and inter-sector and multidisciplinary cooperation between state authorities and the professional public is still incomplete and insufficient,” Baković said.

Jovana Janjušević from Coalition 27 reminded that Montenegro is 47th on the list of ecological countries of the world, and that there are five ecological black marks. The problem is the protection of the right to a healthy environment.

“We do not have court practice where we can say that a citizen of Pljevlja has his right to a healthy environment protected, because of the extremely high pollution. This pollution has been confirmed by the World Health Organisation, which stated in its finding that one in every four citizens of Pljevlja dies from the consequences of pollution in that city. Then questions arise about the problem when it comes to the exercising of the right to a healthy environment,” said Janjušević.

Ambassador Orav emphasised that in Montenegro, in the field of environmental protection, stronger administrative capacities are needed.

“Montenegro needs a strong and well-equipped administration at the national and local levels for the application and enforcement of environment laws. The chapter on the environment is one of the most challenging chapters, which is why continued political commitment and support for this area are crucial,” said Orav.

After the panel discussion, awards were given to the winners of the “Human Rights Quest” competition. Students from “Slobodan Škerović” Gymnasium from Podgorica, “Mladost” High School from Tivat and “Petar I Petrović Njegoš” Gymnasium from Danilovgrad won a study trip to Berlin. The “Human Rights Quest” competition is one of the activities being realised in the period from 7–11 December 2017 to mark International Human Rights Day.