by Kristin Meek, C. Forbes Tompkins, David Waskow and Sam Adams - January 13, 2016
In his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama ranked the importance of a climate change strategy on a par with national security, economic equality and a more effective political process. Here are six steps his administration can take this year to cement its climate legacy.
Solving the challenges of air and water pollution will require more than the adoption of top-down solutions or greener technology. It will require countries to address key governance challenges, like inaccessible information and a lack of public participation.
The recent chemical explosion that left more than 150 dead was not only preventable, but reveals a clear breakdown of environmental governance, including poor transparency, corrupt oversight, and insufficient public engagement.
Despite the encouraging expansion of environmental democracy around the world, there are still areas where environmental laws are not being properly or fully implemented. The Environmental Democracy Index reveals four areas where practice is not living up to legal standards.
The need is growing for public access to environmental information, public participation in environmental decision-making and enforcement of environmental laws. Without these rights, explain WRI Managing Director Manish Bapna and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment John Knox, people are left marginalized and powerless.
EPA General Counsel Avi Garbow, renowned environmental attorney Rizwana Hasan and others explained at a recent event why citizens' rights to information, public participation and justice are critical for sustainable development.
WRI's new Environmental Democracy Index tracks and scores 70 countries' progress in enacting national laws that promote transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in environmental decision-making.