The recent chemical explosion that left more than 150 dead was not only preventable, but reveals a clear breakdown of environmental governance, including poor transparency, corrupt oversight, and insufficient public engagement.
Despite the encouraging expansion of environmental democracy around the world, there are still areas where environmental laws are not being properly or fully implemented. The Environmental Democracy Index reveals four areas where practice is not living up to legal standards.
Evaluating "environmental democracy" requires looking not just at the existence of laws, but their implementation.
The need is growing for public access to environmental information, public participation in environmental decision-making and enforcement of environmental laws. Without these rights, explain WRI Managing Director Manish Bapna and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment John Knox, people are left marginalized and powerless.
EPA General Counsel Avi Garbow, renowned environmental attorney Rizwana Hasan and others explained at a recent event why citizens' rights to information, public participation and justice are critical for sustainable development.
WRI's new Environmental Democracy Index tracks and scores 70 countries' progress in enacting national laws that promote transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in environmental decision-making.
At its core, environmental democracy involves three mutually reinforcing rights: the ability for people to freely access information on environmental quality and problems, to participate meaningfully in decision-making, and to seek enforcement of environmental laws or compensation for damages