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access to justice

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The climate and open government communities have historically worked in silos. That arrangement can't continue if countries are to successfully implement their national climate plans under the Paris Agreement.

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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.

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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.

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The environmental democracy rights of access to information, public participation, and access to justice in environmental matters have gained currency as key drivers of informed, accountable decision making and citizen empowerment.

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The “resource curse" describes the paradox where countries rich in oil, gas, and minerals remain largely impoverished. Better transparency—both in how governments spend extractive revenues and how natural resource decisions are made—could help tackle this problem. While some new initiatives are making progress on this front, more needs to be done to ensure that drilling and mining doesn’t come at the expense of communities and the land, water, and wildlife they rely on.

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More than 70 percent of Samarinda’s land (the capital of Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province) is allocated to mining concessions, and little information is provided to citizens on companies’ compliance to safety and environmental health rules.

In the hopes of preventing mining fatalities, the Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), a group of Indonesian NGOs and community organizations, requested information from the Indonesian government to determine what companies were doing to mitigate mines’ environmental and health impacts. This process prompted the STRIPE project, which will focus on building strong civil society coalitions to advocate for corporate disclosure of information.

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