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Aligning Commitments

Public Participation, International Decision-Making, and the Environment

Reviews public participation policies of institutions in three international arenas: Multilateral environmental agreements, multilateral development bank policy and lending, and trade and regional economic bodies.

Executive Summary

This brief surveys public participation policies across a range of international institutions and environmental agreements to better understand whether opportunities exist for meaningful participation in international decisions that affect the environment.

Co-produced by WRI’s International Financial Flows and the Environment Program (IFFE) and The Access Initiative (TAI), the survey concludes:

  • Policies on public participation are quickly becoming the norm.
  • Public participation at the national level is uniformly weak; domestic stakeholders have limited ability to influence international decisions that affect their environment.
  • Institutions and agreements subject to the greatest public scrutiny have the most advanced public participation policy frameworks.
  • A common methodology is needed to assess the implementation and practice of public participation.

This analysis provides the reader with an overview of where multilateral institutions are contributing to the development of effective public participation, and the extent to which opportunities exist in domestic and international political spheres for affected parties and the interested public to incorporate sustainability concerns in multilateral decision-making processes.

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