Remarks by Bill Rammell, Foreign Office Minister responsible for environmental issues, July 10, 2003 at the launch of World Resources 2002-2004
July 10, 2003
I warmly welcome the opportunity to support the work of the World Resources Institute and their new report “World Resources 2002-2004. Decisions for the Earth: Balance, Voice, and Power”.
This new report will be a valuable resource for those keen to find out more about how decisions on the environment are made and how that decision making process can be improved. As the report emphasises, money alone cannot produce sound development. Success depends too on sound institutions, prudent policies, transparent processes, open access to - and fair participation in - decision-making. In short, good governance.
Environmental governance was a central issue in negotiations at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg last year. We are working closely with other government departments to deliver our WSSD commitments.
One such commitment, on which we work closely with the World Resources Institute, is a new partnership called Partnership for Principle 10 (PP10). The British government is pleased to be involved as a key stakeholder to PP10, a partnership which promotes sound principles of good environmental governance. The FCO is keen to support this new partnership and has pledged �200,000 to PP10. Other partners consist of governments and non-governmental organisations from countries in the north and south plus a number of international institutions: the World Bank, UN Development Programme, UN Environment Programme, the European Commission, the World Conservation Union and WRI, which hosts the secretariat.
A partnership of this kind is an excellent way of promoting just, transparent and participatory environmental decision-making, since it brings together Governments, business and civil society in pursuit of common goals.
What does this mean in practice? Well, if people can find out where pollution affecting their communities is coming from, by accessing environmental information, they can take action to reduce or prevent it. They can put pressure on polluting industries to clean up, and on governments to enforce environmental laws. And if their demands for improvements aren’t met, citizens need access to courts, that is, access to justice, to find a legal solution.
The ability to participate in decisions which affect the environment is vital. Whether those decisions concern where a new industrial facility should be located, or what level of pesticide residue is acceptable in food, the voice of those affected should be heard. Again, this partnership should help promote more informed participation by the public in these critical issues.
As well as actively supporting PP10, the FCO also funds a number of small-scale projects all over the world. This year we are funding 60 new environment projects in 34 countries amounting to �2.5 million. Here are some examples of those which support just, transparent and participatory environmental decision-making.
Yerevan, Armenia - �21k
‘Improvement of legislation on environmental assessment in Armenia’
The aim of the project is to provide the legal framework for, and the public support to introduce and enforce, the practice of environmental assessment in Armenia.
- There is a need for a new practical law on environmental assessment to regulate economic development in Armenia and provide a basis for implementing Armenia’s obligations under international environmental agreements.
- The project plans to analyse the existing gaps in policy, draft a new law, assess the draft, obtain public feedback, and organise a campaign in support of the draft.
- Main outputs of the project will include recommendations for improvements; the Draft Law; expert discussions and a campaign of comments; public hearings; presentations, and meetings with relevant decision-makers to ensure the adoption of the law.
Caracas, Venezuela - �60k over three years
Environmental Assessment and Stakeholder participation in Pollution Control for the Manzanares River Catchment.
- This involves specific actions to:
Support consensus building as an integral part of sustainable development projects (e.g. in R�o Manzanares Environmental Assessment and Stakeholder Participation in Pollution Control project, in Sierra de Portuguesa and Canaima National Park).
Raise awareness through environmental education.
- This work is underpinned by more general work on human rights which includes
Building capacity and agreed common aims by establishing links between different actors/strengthening the Venezuelan human rights movement; developing contacts with other embassies, EU Delegation, UN bodies, human rights NGOs; establishing a network between interested contacts to share information, NGOs to make links with potential donors, create stronger networks, and to avoid duplication.
Involvement in efforts to reform the police: working with NGOs, state governors and police on legislation, training (human rights, minimal use of force), codes, community relations etc.
Pristina, Kosovo - �21k
‘Accessing environmental information as a tool for solving environmental problems’ - the project aims to improve public awareness of pollution caused by a power corporation, by introducing the access to information principle of the Aarhus Convention to the public and key stakeholders.
- The components of the project are:
Printing a leaflet about Aarhus Convention principles and the Environmental Protection Law.
Printing a directory containing all the information related to governmental focal points that have environmental information.
Organising public debates with all stakeholders involved in the pollution caused by the power corporation and broadcast through local radios.
Quarterly Environmental Bulletin (Albanian, English & Serbian) containing a series of articles about Aarhus Convention, pollution caused by the power corporation and Environmental Protection Law.
Weekly electronic newsletter.
I hope this demonstrates that the British Government is a keen advocate of environmental governance. My officials look forward to continued collaboration with the World Resources Institute and, once again, I commend the contributors for their efforts on this new and valuable report.