Here is a quick summary of recent progress by Access Initiative partners working to strengthen civil society, increase participation, and improve environmental policy choices.
Over the past 10 years Access Initiative (TAI) partners from 50 different countries have played important roles in strengthening civil society and government capacity in order to build the foundations needed to move access rights forward. 2009 is proving to be no different. Partners from around the world are helping to open up the decision-making the processes for environmental issues, by widening the range of voices heard and improving the quality of policy choices available.
In the past year and a half, TAI partners have taken part in activities to reform transparency laws, train government officers to involve people in development planning, help build awareness among judges and media about the public’s ability to influence decisions that affect the environment. This work has lead to changes at the national and regional levels.
Some specific changes resulting from the work of TAI partners include:
Here is a quick summary of the work already underway in 2009 for 22 TAI partner countries, as part of the work funded by the World Bank, Development Governance Grant:
The Center for Human Rights and Environment is prioritizing reforms by conducting Argentina’s first national TAI assessment.
The Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association is managing a regional exchange program for community leaders intended to develop a network of forest dwellers in South Asia and advance their capacity towards participatory governance. This includes a regional training workshop on access issues relating to the forest.
Eco Ecolo is prioritizing reforms by conducting Benin’s first national TAI assessment.
PRODENA is developing the main indicators for the National System of Environmental Information (NSEI) recommended by the TAI assessment and advocating for its implementation. PRODENA is also advising the government environmental authority on how to organize the NSEI.
The Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme is working to create a task force to supervise public participation in the development of access and benefit sharing (ABS) policies. BPDC is also integrating civil society recommendations into a draft of the ABS policy framework.
The Foundation for Environment and Development is organizing and conducting workshops to train judges, magistrates, and lawyers on environmental law and access rights.
Participa is developing indicators to evaluate regional advocacy success. Participa is also prioritizing reforms by conducting Chile’s second national TAI assessment.
The Center for Mountainous Resource Conservation and Development Study is prioritizing reforms by conducting the first regional Guizhou TAI assessment.
TAI Yunnan partners are translating TAI indicator toolkit and concepts into Mandarin and conducting workshops to train Guizhou TAI coalition. TAI Yunnan is also advocating for public access to environmental information on water quality and pollution.
TAI Ecuador partners Coalicion Acesso and CEDA are conducting dialogues with government, civil society and the public to gather input on environmental concerns and access rights that can be used to draft a national strategy proposal for access to environmental information.
Croissance Saine Environnement is prioritizing reforms by leading Gabon’s first national TAI assessment.
Environics Trust is prioritizing reforms by conducting India’s first national TAI assessment.
TAI partner Florozon is organizing and conducting training workshops with government officials and civil society members as recommended by the 2008 TAI national assessment to increase attentiveness to access rights. Florozon is also launching a large media campaign to increase public awareness and demand for access rights.
The Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy is working to strengthen and implement proposed environmental and access bills that would provide improvements in access rights. CEPA is also publicizing proposed legislation and holding workshops to advance public participation and capacity building.
Pro Public is advocating for the inclusion of access rights and good environmental governance in the proposed Constitution of Nepal through capacity building measures including the training of the writers of the constitution, government officials, civil society members, and the public.
The Environmental Law and Economics Institute is working to revise access to information legislation and will present a final draft to government officials, civil society members, and the public through a series of workshops intended to integrate their comments on the legislation before formally submitting them to Congress.
The Peruvian Society for Environmental Law is working with Latin American partners to organize a regional meeting and conduct workshops intended to compile a set of practical advocacy tools, strengthen advocacy capacity, and train civil society members on access issues.
TAI member ATENEO is developing a single-volume reference ‘bench book’ intended to provide judges on the recently established environmental courts with complete answers to frequently raised questions. ATENEO is also advocating for the passage of the freedom of information bill via media briefings, videos, workshops, and a website.
Lawyers from the Public Interest Law Foundation are working closely with government officials to draft and implement guidelines for information disclosure PILF is also conducting training workshops on the new guidelines for relevant officials.
The Thailand Environment Institute is advocating for the amendment and implementation of Thailand’s Official Information Act of 1997 through a multi-stakeholder dialogue that will publish recommendations.
The Environmental Management and Law Association is determining the capacities and receptiveness for a TAI assessment in Turkey. EMLA is conducting a workshop on TAI methodology for interested parties.
Lawyers from Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association are working closely with the Ministry of Environment to develop and implement guidelines for how information is released to the public.