TAI Assessment Toolkit
At the heart of The Access Initiative’s (TAI’s) work is an Assessment Toolkit that helps civil society coalitions pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in environmental governance in their countries and identify opportunities to make positive changes. Using a framework of case studies and indicators that evaluate both laws on the books and government practices on the ground, TAI coalitions answer questions such as:
- Does the government inform citizens when pollution poses a health threat?
- Do citizens have a say in how natural resources are used?
- Does the justice system equitably resolve environmental disputes?
Based on experience gained from conducting 32 assessments around the world, TAI updated its assessment toolkit in 2006. As part of the update, web-based software was developed to help TAI coalitions easily conduct assessments, analyze their findings, and store their data. Access the TAI Assessment Toolkit here.
WRI’s Rapid Institutional Analysis for Adaptation (ARIA) is a tool for civil-society organizations to aid national governments in responding to climate change. The tool examines four qualities of decision making:
- Transparency and participation
National coalitions of NGOs focus on identifying gaps in systems for vulnerability and impacts assessment, prioritization, coordination, information management, and adaptation mainstreaming. Providing tools for civil society organizations to evaluate institutional capacity is a key component of a broader strategy to focus adaptation efforts on the needs of vulnerable populations, the ecosystems they depend on, and the systems of governance which aid in development and resilience. ARIA has been used by civil society organizations in Bolivia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, and Saint Lucia.
TAI’s Water Toolkit provides advice and guidance to civil society groups specifically interested in evaluating access to information, public participation, and access to justice in decisions related to fresh water. The Water Toolkit assists users in applying the TAI Assessment Toolkit to conduct a survey of water decision-making in their country. The Water Toolkit is intended for use by civil society coalitions already familiar with the process of conducting a TAI assessment. Typically, TAI civil society coalition members take part in a three-day training to learn the TAI assessment method and practice using the TAI Assessment Toolkit. TAI coalitions can choose to: conduct a stand-alone national TAI-Water Assessment or to conduct a TAI Water Assessment as a component of an overall national TAI assessment. Access the TAI Water Toolkit here.
Open Development Alert
The objectives of Open Development Alert are to: .
- Encourage greater transparency in the development control process by Governments and Private Sector Corporations that addresses secrecy in decision-making about the use of natural resources ( large developments e.g. highways, water use, forest removal, mining)
- Create a demand driven crowd source platform that allows greater public participation in the process of development control by the general public, experts, civil society, media and community members.
- Ensure that development is conceived, designed and implemented with the fullest possible participation of the beneficiaries in ways that are transparent and accountable to them by pushing Governments to release proactively more development control information.
This project is being sponsored by the Bridging Transparency and Technology Initiative (TAI Bridge) which is a multi-stakeholder partnership which seeks to build collaborations between those working on improving transparency and those who see the opportunity to use the internet to improve governance, streamline public service delivery and uncover corruption. TAI Bridge believes that “New technologies enable citizens to get closer to the policy-making process and allow campaigners to build and mobilize grassroots networks, amplify their advocacy and rapidly increase the scale of their activities”.1 Aspiration Technology is the chief consulting technical organization working with TAI Bridge that has provided advice and support for the project. The Access Initiative (TAI) has been awarded a small seed grant to pursueOpenDevelopmentAlert.org
The main TAI partner working on this project is the Jamaica Environmental Trust. The Jamaica Environment Trust is a non-profit, non-governmental membership organization operating in the island of Jamaica. JET was formed in 1991 and its main focus is environmental education and advocacy. JET and TAI have received funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund to do a website which includes all the main components of OpenDevelopmentAlert.org which will be utilized to design the first Jamaica OpenDevelopmentAlert.org platform. TAI is for the first time testing a seed project with the hope to :
- Provide Community leaders and activists with better access to information on proposed developments that are likely to impact their communities as well as decision-making documents, such as applications for development, resettlement schemes and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) to aid them in engaging in policy making, development permitting and monitoring processes
- Create a template for development alerts that can be expanded to other countries in the Network
- Create a novel, innovative and actionable approach to engagement with diverse audiences on the issue of the human side to sustainable development using technology.
For the TAI network, advocacy means turning our research into meaningful change on the ground. It means convincing others that our goal to widen access is worth implementing and ensuring that implementation is done well. The Advocacy Toolkit is a set of tools developed to help TAI partners strategically achieve reform and policy practice around access to information, public participation, and access to justice. Partners have used the toolkit successfully in Cameroon (FEDEV), Chile (PARTICIPA), India (LIFE), Ecuador (CEDA), and Zimbabwe (ZELA). Access the TAI Advocacy Toolkit here.