European ECO Forum Agreement

Statutes of ECO Forum as adopted in Århus

Pan-European ECO Forum NGO Coalition for Sustainable Development

The basis for the work of the European ECO Forum is the NGO AARHUS AGREEMENT:


The Pan-European ECO Forum is based at the place of its secretariat, for time being, at Ljubljana, Slovenia. The Coordination Board has the mandate to decide on the future location of the secretariat. 

Mission, Goal and Tasks

The Pan-European ECO Forum is a broad, inclusive coalition of sustainable development NGOs (environmental citizens organisations as well as NGOs with related scopes like human rights NGOs, health organisations etc.) which are interested in participating in the official Pan-European processes (Environment for Europe ministers conferences as well as related processes like Environment & Health, Environment & Transport, Environment & Agriculture etc.) with the final goal of promoting sustainable development in Europe and globally. The goal of the coalition is to serve the NGO community and to facilitate the participation in these processes in order to be together stronger and more influencial, however without preventing individual organisations to perform separately. 


NGOs of the UN ECE region are sharing the above mentioned goals can become members of the Pan-European ECO Forum. Membership can be applied for by a simple letter to the secretariat during the year or by registering for the Plenary and by acceptance of this Agreement. Applicants have to indicate the contact person as well as the delegate of the NGO for decision-taking at the general assembly. Membership can be cancelled by a letter without indicating reasons by the end of a calendar year.

Working Principles

The meetings of all bodies as well as all working papers and the process of elaboration of positions shall be open and transparent for the public (not only for members). Each member has the right to make initiatives and proposals for the coalition's work-programme and positions to be decided on in the appropriate body of the coalition as well as to receive feedback. The Plenary takes decisions preferably by consensus (by meeting or electronically followed by written confirmation). If a consensus cannot be reached, 2/3 majority of the participating members decides. The other bodies of the Pan-European ECO Forum decide by consensus. There is the principle of one member-organisation, one vote. All organs shall engage other relevant networks, experts or NGOs in policy co-ordination.



The Plenary is the highest organ of the Pan-European ECO Forum and open for all NGOs/ECOs which can be member of the Pan-European ECO Forum as described above. A selection takes only place for the recipients of travel grants as far as the available funds require it. This selection is made by the Coordination Board according to the following criteria:

  • -geographical balance
  • -active participation in the process
  • -in principle one person per organisation
  • -expertise

The national NGO communities are encouraged to organise the selection of their delegates in the country.
The in-country selection of delegates will be respected in first place.
The Plenary is open for observers.
The Plenary meets in principle biannually or when needed (if funds are available). Exceptional Plenaries take place upon the request of 2/3 of all members.
The Plenary makes common policy statements by adopting resolutions. Regarding the functioning of the Pan-European ECO Forum the Plenary has particularly the following competencies:

  • -adoption of the Agreement and decision about changes of it
  • -approval of the Coordination Body composed by the representatives of the Issue Groups and the Focal Points and appointment of three additional members dedicated fully to the functioning of the coalition as a whole.
  • -approval of the annual technical/narrative as well as financial reports of the Coordination Board, the Issue Groups, the Focal Points and the secretariat
  • -approval of the overall financial reports of the treasurer decision about the dissolution of the coalition and the destination of remaining funds

The Plenary serves also for an exchange of views on general trends in Europe, areas for co-operation and missing links. The framework of the Plenary is furthermore used for organizing Issue Group Workshops, organizational capacity building as well as skill share seminars.

The Plenary is organized by the Coordination Board in collaboration with the secretariat and it is announced at least two months in advance by a newsletter to all contact addresses as well as by publication on Internet.

Issue Groups

There is an open ended number of Issue Groups working on specific subjects. The Issue Groups are subject related coalitions ("content coalitions"). They report to the Plenary. They are organizing themselves, agree on the method of dialogue and meetings and elaborate their working programmes. Each group appoints a co-ordinator and nominates a representative for the Coordination Board, which can be the same person. Issue Groups can be established at any time and get the status of a Pan-European ECO Forum's Issue Group through approval by the Plenary after presenting their objectives and work programme, avoiding overlap of issue groups of existing networks.

Focal Points

The Pan-European ECO Forum maintains as far as possible focal points in the major geographical regions of the UN ECE area. The main task of the Focal Points is to animate involvement of groups. The Focal Points work in co-operation with each other. They are accountable to the Coordination Board and the Plenary. New Focal Points are proposed by the Coordination Board or members of a certain region, and approved by the Plenary. The Plenary approves also the representative of the Focal Point in the Coordination Board.

Coordination Board

Coordination Board is composed of the representatives of the Issue Groups and representatives of each Focal Point and in charge for a period of two years with the possibility of re-election.

It is responsible for the following tasks:

  • -co-ordination of the overall activities, and establishment of the overall work-programme and budget co-ordination of the fund-raising  acceptance of new members
  • -representation in the official process
  • -selection of the secretariat
  • -preparation of Plenary meetings
  • -reporting to the Plenary

The out-going Coordination Board remains responsible with regard to the donors and creditors for the concluding and reporting of the projects of the previous preparatory process till the approval of the final reports and completed payments.


The secretariat is appointed by the Coordination Board. The Secretariat's tasks are:

  • - information collection and documentation
  • - information dissemination among the network
  • - publication of a regular newsletter in electronic as well as paper form press-work
  • - administrative support for the Coordination Board
  • - organisation of Plenary meetings and NGO pre-conferences in collaboration with the Coordination Board
  • - reporting and book-keeping for the overall work-programme The secretariat reports to the Coordination Board and the Plenary


The Pan-European ECO Forum finances its activities through coordinated fund raising and by voluntary contributions of members.
The financial liability of the Pan-European ECO Forum is limited to the raised funds. Personal financial liability of members is excluded.

Adopted in Århus, 22nd June 1998

Chair persons of the plenary session:
Vladimir Lay & Gaudenz Silberschmidt

Responsible for this report
Vida Ogorelec-Wagner & Theresa Herzog-Zimmermann

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