People often lack the ability to participate in decisions that impact their environment—yet no independent tool currently exists to measure and map these gaps in rights. While many acknowledge that transparency, participation and access to justice are critical to good governance; to this point no platform existed to enable global comparisons while sharing resources on good practice. The Environmental Democracy Index (EDI) measures these rights using an internationally recognized set of guidelines developed through the United Nations Environment Programme.

For the first time, citizens and advocates are empowered with a credible, independent source to understand what rights they have to participate in decisions about their environment. Governments are able to benchmark their progress against an international standard, while learning about model laws and practice from around the world. Stakeholders are able to view and download data, make comparisons, and rank countries’ performance at any level of detail.

The World Resources Institute is the Secretariat of the Access Initiative (TAI)- the world’s largest civil society network dedicated to ensuring that people have the right and ability to influence decisions that affect their communities and the natural resources on which they rely.

WRI and TAI have extensive expertise developing tools, working with partners across the world, and conducting research that can be directly applied to advocacy. In addition, TAI has been deeply involved in national, regional, and international efforts to strengthen and expand access rights that are fundamental to sustainable development.

EDI builds on the success of past tools that TAI has developed, while integrating feedback and responding to recent international developments. It uses objective, actionable indicators with clear scoring criteria to limit or remove subjectivity. All indicators were developed under the framework of the UNEP Bali Guidelines on implementation of legislation on access to information, public participation, and access to justice in environmental matters. These guidelines were negotiated and adopted by the UNEP Governing Council in 2010.

EDI is a unique platform that features:

  • In-depth country information. Each country assessment provides in-depth information on its scores including a summary of areas of strength and areas for improvement and contextual information to help users better understand the economic demographic situation of the country.
  • Comparisons. EDI allows users to compare countries’ performances at multiple levels and download data on environmental democracy measures.
  • Rankings. Countries around the world are ranked according to their progress in achieving environmental democracy.
  • Government Feedback. In order to promote a collaborative dialogue around environmental democracy, each country page will provide a space for the government to respond and react to their country’s scores.

Photo Credit: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank