One of the themes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development was the power of collaboration across stakeholder groups, both to build consensus on the way forward, and to implement the sustainable development agenda on the ground. Multi-stakeholder processes such as the World Commission on Dams have demonstrated that representatives of constituencies with widely different perspectives can find common ground on contentious issues. Local efforts to implement Agenda 21 around the world have demonstrated the ability of businesses and civic groups to collaborate with government agencies to share responsibilities for environmental protection and stewardship of natural resources.
One initiative unveiled at the Summit-the Partnership for Principle 10 (PP10)-is specifically aimed at improving conditions for good environmental governance at the national level. Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, adopted by 178 nations at the Earth Summit in 1992, commits national governments to an inclusive process of public participation in environmental decisions. The Partnership, formed a decade after Rio, is an effort to help nations live up to this commitment to good governance. It provides a common forum for governments, civil society organizations, donors, and other groups to design and implement practical strategies to enhance citizen access to environmental information, participation, and justice (the access principles).
The Partnership builds on the work of the Access Initiative (see Chapter 3), which has designed a framework of governance indicators to assess how well nations have translated Principle 10 into action. The first requirement of the Partnership is to support such national assessments of public access. Once NGOs have independently assessed a nation’s performance using the Access Initiative framework or another acceptable method, the Partnership’s work begins in earnest. Partners work together to plan, finance, and carry out projects tailored to each country’s need as identified in its national assessment. That may mean financing the development of a new public information system, committing to a program to enhance environmental literacy, or designing a training program to help public employees encourage and properly digest input from advocacy and neighborhood groups.
The Partnership for Principle 10 is targeted to the range of groups actively involved in environmental governance:
- Civil society groups interested in applying The Access Initiative’s framework for assessing government performance on the access principles.
- Governments (including national and local agencies) interested in collaborating with civil society groups to improve access to information, participation, and justice.
- Donors interested in providing development assistance for the Partnership itself and for independent assessment and capacity building at the national level.
- International institutions interested in promoting the access principles in their own operations as well as through their engagements with member governments.
Commitments, not rhetoric
The Partnership for Principle 10 is built around a set of shared commitments. These serve as a statement of the Partnership’s values and principles and set the parameters for the scope of work of the Partnership.
By joining the PP10, all partners commit to support the accelerated and enhanced implementation of Principle 10 at the national level and in their own policies and practice related to access to information, public participation, and justice by:
- Encouraging credible and independent assessments of policies and practice using a framework of indicators-such as those developed by the Access Initiative-to identify strengths and weaknesses in implementation;
- Collaborating with partners and other stakeholders to improve policies and practice by prioritizing opportunities and implementing programs to strengthen capacity and enhance performance;
- Developing individual specific commitments and being accountable for them.
Specific commitments could include:
- For governments: developing a new Freedom of Information Law; training judges and lawyers on environmental procedural rights; developing a new public legal aid program for environmental laws and regulations; crafting procedures to introduce public participation earlier in the decision-making cycle; developing environmental education programs; developing and implementing Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers.
- For nongovernmental organizations: repeating a national-level assessment every two years; contributing to the Access Initiative process of refining access indicators and assessment methods.
- For governments and NGOs together: committing to engage in a process of consultation and dialogue to identify priorities and develop joint activities, such as training courses for government officials responsible for providing environmental information or conducting environmental impact assessments.
- For donors: providing a specific level of funding to support the Partnership itself or to support capacity building in specific countries.
- For international institutions: mainstreaming activities that support the access principles in their country offices; adopting internal policies specifying transparent and accountable practices, as well as mechanisms for public participation, in all the institution’s activities.
- Progress toward meeting these commitments must be measured regularly and reported to all partners and to the general public. Commitments should be achievable within a specified time period, and are expected to differ depending on the kind of organization and the income level of the country where they are located.
- Governments: Chile, Hungary, the European Commission, Italy, Mexico, Sweden, Uganda, and the United Kingdom
- International Organizations: IUCN-World Conservation Union, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the World Bank
- Nongovernmental Organizations: Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (Uganda), Corporaci
Joining the Partnership for Principle 10, then, is one way groups of all calibers can work locally to advance open and equitable decision-making.
Members of the Partnership include governments, international organizations, and national and international NGOs. World Resources Institute is the acting Secretariat. As of April 2003, PP10 members included: