“Indonesia’s leaders have joined an ecologically progressive group of countries, civil-society organizations, and other actors in saying that their citizens need to know whether businesses are releasing toxic chemicals in their communities, whether the air is safe to breathe in their cities, and that the law recognizes the rights of individuals,” said Wiwiek Awiati of the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law, the Indonesian civil-society member of PP10.
Indonesia’s commitment was announced here at a global meeting convened by The Access Initiative (TAI) and hosted by the Thailand Environment Institute.
Indonesia joins Bolivia, Chile, Mexico, Uganda, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom as formal members of PP10, for which the World Resources Institute (WRI) serves as the global secretariat. PP10 partners, like the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law, make specific commitments and partner on initiatives to improve access and participation within member countries. A full list of the partners can be found at www.pp10.org.
“When a country’s political leaders officially endorse the PP10 approach, it opens doors to meaningful public participation in environmental governance,” said Frances Seymour, director, Institutions and Governance Program, WRI. “Indonesia’s commitment should be viewed as an example for national leaders throughout the world to follow. This is an important step toward keeping Indonesia’s government transparent, inclusive, and accountable.”
Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, has suffered for many years, with the Asian economic crisis, the fall of President Suharto in 1998, violence in provinces demanding independence, and the country’s susceptibility to natural disasters.
Whereas the country has recently made significant strides in holding free elections, deepening an independent judiciary, and promoting freedom of the press, Indonesia’s inclusion in PP10 promises a continued move toward improved governance and public access to decision-making, with a focus on environmental and sustainable development issues.
In joining the PP10, the Indonesian government commits to implementing a series of activities designed to increase access rights in the country. This includes increasing the public’s involvement in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, incorporating public participation guidelines in new local environmental regulations, responding to public grievances in environmental cases, and publishing more environmental information on the Internet as well as issuing environmental regulation booklets. The Indonesian Ministry of Environment is incorporating these commitments into the country’s Environmental Management Act (1997), which is currently under revision.
Using tools developed by The Access Initiative, civil-society organizations in 27 countries have completed assessments of public access issues. In another 15 countries, assessments are currently underway. Some countries have performed more than one assessment. The Thailand Environment Institute, for example, is beginning its third assessment of access in Thailand to compare changes over time.
Many of these success stories are being highlighted here at the first-ever global meeting of TAI (www.accessinitiative.org/GlobalMeeting.htm), which is being co-hosted by WRI and the Thailand Environment Institute. A handful of other success stories include:
Use of the TAI framework by the UNDP-supported Partnership for Governance Reform to evaluate Indonesia ‘s overall justice system.
Uganda’s implementation into law of a new Freedom of Information Act. This commitment came about in response to a TAI assessment which highlighted the absence of such a law.
Ukraine’s agreement, after a TAI assessment, to improve public access to information, participation in decision-making, and access to justice as key principles of environmental governance.
TAI’s Mexican partner’s release of a citizen’s guide to information in the water sector, which led to consultation with the National Commission of Water in Mexico in providing recommendations to improve access to information about water resources.
The TAI team in Zimbabwe ‘s identification of the need for judicial officials to receive better training on environmental issues.
“This is a landmark meeting. It is the first time that members of our ever-growing global network have been able to gather together in the same place to share stories of success and continuing challenges,” said Lalanath DeSilva, a senior associate at WRI and director of TAI.
The three-day meeting here in Bangkok is also featuring the release of improved methodology and software, developed by the global network, for assessing access issues at the national level. On Friday, April 28, fifteen members of the TAI network will train on the new software, enabling them to return to their respective countries to continue assessments.
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