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What Does Environmental Democracy Look Like?

Environmental democracy is about government being transparent, accountable, and involving people in decisions that affect their environment. 20 countries in The Access Initiative (TAI) network are expanding their work to promote environmental democracy. Here is a summary of what's ahead in 2008 and beyond.

Local TAI partners work with their governments to reform transparency laws and train government officers to involve people in development planning. They also build the awareness among judges and in the media about the public's ability to influence decisions that affect the environment.

TAI Partners are already having crucial impacts in key countries:

  • In Chile, the National Commission of the Environment committed to creating a participatory process in the design of the country's first Toxic Release Inventory. TAI partner groups helped influence the design of the system to guarantee full citizen participation.
  • In Uganda, the TAI coalition used the findings of a TAI assessment to convince representatives to draft a Freedom of Information Act establishing citizens' right to government information.
  • TAI Ecuador partner ECOLEX and the Ministry of Environment drafted a regulation requiring public consultation in the process of decision-making on environmental matters. The president approved the regulation in October 2006.
  • In Indonesia, TAI assessments identified the need for and recommended the basic requirements of a Freedom of Information Act. TAI partners worfked with the Government and other civil society groups to draft such an act which was adopted in 2008.
  • In Mexico, a TAI assessment revealed gaps in public access to information. Together they published a series of citizen action guides which led to a measurable increase in the number of citizens requesting information and more efficient delivery of information on the part of the government.

  • Planned activities include an environmental rights education clinics and training workshops targeting disadvantaged communities in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya; translation of access rights guides into indigenous languages in Mexico; and the second Asia Regional TAI workshop to be held in Bangkok in 2008.

Here is a quick summary of the work that is already underway—or planned for 2008—in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cameroon, Chile, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Hungary, Latvia, Nepal, India, Macedonia, Malawi, Mexico, Paraguay, The Philippines, Tanzania, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and Zambia.

BANGLADESH: BANGLADESH ENVIRONMENTAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION
Prioritize reforms by conducting national TAI assessment.
More about BELA

 

BOLIVIA: PRODENA, BOLIVIAN WILDLIFE SOCIETY
Advocacy activities that engage public officials and parliament representatives to include access rights in the environmental and natural resource legislation.
More about PRODENA

 

CHILE: CORPORACIÓN PARTICIPA
This organization will work with local CSOs to analyze access rights and public participation mechanisms in current Chilean environmental legislation and develop proposals to strengthen the legal norms that impact local poor communities. In addition, they will evaluate tools available in the System of Evaluation of Environmental Impacts in Chile (SEIA) with a special focus on the impact on local poor communities.
More about Participa

CAMEROON: BIORESOURCES DEVELOPMENT AND CONSERVATION PROGRAMME AND FOUNDATION FOR ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT
Training and assistance to TAI DRC teams for a national TAI assessment. Raise awareness on access to participation; develop information materials on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) legal process; initiate teams to work with government officials on EIAs; develop a simplified version of EIA guidelines. Create a link between government and local communities to enable communities to benefit though poverty alleviation strategies. Conduct TAI pilot poverty assessment.

 

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: CONSEIL POUR LA DEFENSE ENVIRONNEMENTALE PAR LA LEGALITE ET LA TRACABILITE (CODELT)
Prioritize reforms by conducting national TAI assessment.

 

ECUADOR: COALICIÓN ACCESO
Investigate 30 petitions for access to information; file and follow-up on 6 litigation cases where access to information has been denied. Conduct 3 training workshops for 30 public officials and 20 NGO leaders on implementing Ecuador’s Transparency and Access to Information Law.
More about Coalicion Acceso

ECUADOR: ECOLEX
Work with government officials to implement regulations related to civil participation in environmental management and build capacities for the social controllership in environmental issues through training.
More about Ecolex

 

HUNGARY: ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AND LAW ASSOCIATION
Training and assistance to TAI-Macedonia team for national TAI assessment. Provide assistance to TAI-Ukraine to implement activities in the Ukraine.
More about EMLA

 

INDIA: ENVIRONICS TRUST
Prioritize reforms by conducting regional TAI assessment.
More about Environics


LATVIA: REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER – LATVIA
Conduct access to justice seminar for 35 judges who will be trained on practical implementation of access to justice principles in Latvian law and how it relates to obligations under the Aarhus Convention.
More about REC - Latvia

 

MACEDONIA: FLOROZON-ASSOCIATION FOR PROTECTION OF NATURAL ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Prioritize reforms by conducting national TAI assessment.


MALAWI: CENTRE FOR POLICY AND ADVOCACY
Activities aimed to use the media as a tool to reach out to new stakeholders. CEPA will also develop a series of training workshops that will include government officials and civil society members to raise the profile of—and generate public demand for—access in Malawi.
More about CEPA

 

MEXICO: CENTRO MEXICANO DE DERECHO AMBIENTAL
On behalf of The Access Initiative-Mexico. Training and assistance to TAI-Panama*. Work with members of the Government to implement recommendations from two TAI state assessments. Develop and begin to implement an Action Plan for the Federal District in Mexico. Translation of Code Green program into indigenous languages.
More about CEMDA


NEPAL: PRO PUBLIC
Prioritize reforms by conducting national TAI assessment.
More about Pro Public.

 

PARAGUAY: INSTITUTO DE DERECHO Y ECONOMÍA AMBIENTAL
Conduct TAI pilot poverty assessment.
More about IDEA

 

THE PHILIPPINES: ATENEO DE MANILA
Conduct TAI pilot poverty assessment.
More about Ateneo

 


SRI LANKA: PUBLIC INTEREST LAW FOUNDATION
Establish agenda for joint activities with government through PP10 commitments. Draft recommendations to National Environmental Act to include access to information and access to public participation. Conduct TAI pilot poverty assessment.
More about PILF

 

TANZANIA: TANZANIA LAWYERS ENVIRONMENT ACTION TEAM (TANZANIA) Implementation of TAI report recommendations including conducing community training on access rights; establishing a media campaign on access rights.
More about LEAT

 

THAILAND: THAILAND ENVIRONMENT INSTITUTE
Conduct regional workshop that will include training on poverty guidelines. Produce 2000 copies of the Asia regional report. Investigate options for developing a rapid assessment toolkit that could be used by local communities, with a focus on the poor and/or disadvantaged groups, to address access issues at the local level.
More about TEI

 

UKRAINE: ECOPRAVO
Form a national coalition of CSOs and other stakeholders active in environmental rights and access issues and develop a national advocacy strategy for decision makers. Present international complaint mechanisms to Ukraine government officials and establish a program to monitor the implementation of joint activities stemming from the national TAI report.
More about EcoPravo

 

ZAMBIA: INSTITUTE OF HUMAN RIGHTS, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND DEVELOPMENT TRUST (HURID)
Prioritize reforms by conducting national TAI assessment.

Support

This expansion of TAI is made possible through a generous grant from the Development Grants Facility of the World Bank.

Brief History of TAI

Since TAI began in 1999, more than 150 civil society organizations around the world have become TAI Partners. Assessments and advocacy have engaged governments in 45 countries to improve access to information, public participation and access to justice in decisions affecting the environment.

TAI bases its advocacy on original and independent research at the national level using an internationally recognized assessment tool.

TAI Partners use national assessments to examine the ability of the public to access information about government decisions, participate in those decisions, and seek justice when their rights are violated.

TAI Partners use assessment results to raise public awareness, set priorities for improvements in policy and practice, and work with governments to create change.

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